Rebuy tournaments are popular with a section of the poker community. But should you play in them? And if you do, should you use rebuys or not? In this article, we’ll discuss the key elements of rebuy tournament strategy. 

Rebuy tournaments can be fun, but there are certain things that you have to take note of

What Is a Rebuy Tournament?

Most people’s understanding of a poker tournament is a freezeout. You pay a fixed buy-in plus any additional entry fee, and once your chips are gone, you’re out of the tournament. But rebuy tournaments allow you to buy back into the event if you bust out.

Rebuy Rules

The number of chances you have to rebuy depends on the specific rules of the event. Some may offer a fixed number of bullets, while others offer unlimited buy-ins. But there are other rules too. 

Sometimes, if you fall below your original chip stack, you have the option to buy another stack immediately. For instance, let’s say the starting stack is 2,500 and you lose a small pot in the first hand. You can immediately buy another stack of 2,500 on top of your remaining chips.

The vast majority of rebuy tournaments allow you to make a final purchase called an add-on. This is available for the same price as a regular buy-in and the number of chips depends on the event. It may be equal to the starting stack, or it could even be double or more.

Rebuy Tournament Structure

Let’s take a look at exactly how a rebuy poker tournament works. The event will always be split into two clear phases.

Stage 1: Rebuys

The actual rebuy period is generally a crazy free-for-all, especially if you are allowed unlimited rebuys. Because players know they can buy back in, the focus becomes all about acquiring chips. And quickly, before the rebuy period expires.

As a result, people are more likely to try and hit draws. Any two suited cards might be enough to call a pre-flop all-in, in the hope of hitting the flush. Similarly, you’ll need to be prepared to see big starting hands cracked more often, as multi-way pots become frequent. 

Since everyone else loosens up, it can be sensible to tighten your own ranges a little. If you find a big hand, make people pay. You want to be 3- and 4-betting your monsters and charging speculative drawing hands the proper rate. There’s never any point in getting tricky during the rebuy period as you’re always going to get action.

Stage 2: Freezeout

At the close of the rebuy period, you’ll have the chance to buy an add-on. Then the event reverts to that of a standard freezeout poker tournament. Things will start to feel much more familiar now that players cannot return once busted. The kamikaze attitudes should vanish, and you’ll be able to play your standard tournament game.

Or at least, that’s the theory. In the early part of the freezeout stage, keep an eye out for the loosey-goosey types who haven’t switched off. They can be a great way to double up early on if they’re still splashing around with trashy hands. That aside, you should look to play your normal game.

Naturally, as the number of players remaining dwindles and you reach the end game, you’ll need to consider pay jumps. ICM considerations come into play and climbing the payout ladder must be factored into your decision-making. 

Pros and Cons of Rebuy Poker Tournaments

Rebuy tournaments are not for everyone. Some players love them, while others hate them. Here’s a summary of the main advantages and disadvantages to help you decide whether they are right for you.

Rebuy ProsRebuy Cons
More forgiving: Since you can buy back in for a long period of time, you can get away with making mistakes.
Greater variance: Tournament players can easily go on long losing streaks. Due to the nature of rebuy events, this variance is even greater. You’re going to experience many more bad beats.

Weaker standard: The rebuy format attracts gamblers who may not be as skilled. They are hoping to get lucky during rebuys and build bigger stacks. 
Bankroll sapping: The more rebuys you take, the more it hurts your bankroll. So, obviously, you’re going to need a bigger balance to consistently play rebuy events.
Bigger payouts: Naturally, with more money going into the prize pool than a freezeout, the payouts tend to be sizable.
Requires discipline: Even the best players can get carried away in the heat of the moment. Rebuy events require self-control to prevent throwing away good money after bad plays.

So Should You Rebuy or Not?

Okay, we’ve covered almost everything there is to know about rebuy tournaments, but one key question remains; Should you rebuy or not? This debate has raged in the poker community for years but we’re no closer to solving it. 

The Case Against Rebuying

Those who make the case that you should not rebuy do so from the perspective of value. If instead of rebuying, you take that money and enter a new freezeout tournament, you’ll be on an equal footing. But if you rebuy, you will be at a disadvantage. After all, the average chip stack will be greater than your new starting stack.

What’s more, if you don’t purchase the add-on(s), you will be even further behind. Therefore, you’ll have to commit to at least two buy-ins before you even think about rebuys.

Arguments in Favour

As solid as the above arguments are, they fail to take some things into consideration. For instance, the time spent during the rebuy period has given you a lot of information. You’ve learned about player tendencies, maybe even picked up some reads. 

It’s also more likely that you’re in a game where you have an edge. The events tend to be softer, especially at the end of the rebuy stage when players often become desperate. Finally, there’s your hourly rate to consider. It’s not ideal playing a rebuy event for an hour or more, only to just walk away.


Rebuy tournaments are not for everyone. While the payouts can be bigger and they can sometimes be more fun to play, there are downsides too. You need plenty of self-control and a much bigger bankroll.

Ultimately, whether or not you should play in them comes down to personal preference. And if you decide to get involved, it’s up to you which approach to take regarding rebuys.

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