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Poker Life: How wild should you play in a rebuy tournament?

Thu, Nov 17, 9:10am by Poker Guru

Some players use a very loose, maniac style, strategy in rebuy tournaments. Dan Negreanu has done it a few times, even in some re-entry tournaments. The basic idea is of course to build up a huge stack during the rebuy period, even if means making tens of rebuys. It usually includes going all-in with any two cards, sometimes without even looking at the cards! For the other players at the table it will be profitable, on average, to call with any ace or king in this situation so there will be a number of big pots. And at some point, the wild player will get lucky and win a big pot, after which he will settle down and start playing normally.

An interesting aspect of this strategy is that if a player makes a large number of rebuys there will be more chips in play at his table after the rebuy period has ended. I know that this is an important part of Dan Negreanu’s strategy. If he has a huge stack at a table where more chips are in play than at any other table, he thinks it is a huge advantage for him. Of course, it is then important that his table does not break too quickly.

Is this the optimal way to play a rebuy tournament? No, I do not think so. Not for anyone. For a player like Dan Negreanu the value might lie in building his own brand and I am sure he also likes the bragging rights of making 48 rebuys in a WSOP rebuy tournament. But to me this is the poker equivalent of buying magnum bottles of Cristal Champagne at a nightclub to impress girls. I get why some guys do it but I would not do it myself. There are better ways to impress girls and there are better way to succeed in rebuy tournaments.

Back to poker. How should you play a rebuy tournament? Personally, I like to play quite tight during the rebuy period and wait for good hands. A boring ABC kind of style. Then when I get a hand I will play it very aggressively—I will surely not fold to a raise. Even if the other players pay attention and notice that I play tight, I usually get action anyway. I thank the wild players, the Dan Negreanu wannabes so to speak, for that. After the rebuy period, I will loosen up and play my normal style. After the rebuy period, it becomes a freezeout tournament and except for adjusting to big differences in stack sizes, it should be played like one.

Should you always make rebuys when you can and how about the add-on? Personally I would never enter a rebuy tournament without money for rebuys and add-on. Bring at least three buy-ins: one for the initial buy-in, one for the instant rebuy (if that is allowed) and one for the add-on. If you cannot afford that then you are better off playing a freezeout tournament. To me the add-on is almost mandatory but I have skipped it a few times when I have managed to build up a huge stack (at least three times the average) during the rebuy period.

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