Explanation of Rebuy

In most cases rebuying additional chips is only an option a cash game. In cash games players are free to add chips to their stack or cash out at any time (apart from when involved in a hand). In tournaments, rebuys are typically not permitted, although there is a special brand of tournaments known as “rebuy tournaments”, where players are permitted to replenish their stack (after going broke) for a period of time. Once the rebuy period is over, rebuys are no longer permitted; if a player loses his stack, he is out of the tournament.

Example of Rebuy used in a sentence -> Many online cash game players like to rebuy as soon as their chip stack drops below 100 big blinds.

How to Use Rebuy as Part of Your Poker Strategy

Should we rebuy in rebuy tournaments?

Generally, the answer to this question is no, although there is some measure of debate along with some obvious exceptions.

We can generally answer this question (at least in general terms) by utilizing a thought experiment. Imagine an infinite amount of identical (regular) tournaments with the same buyin cost. Player A sits down at the beginning of every tournament while player B always joins the tournament after the fifth blind level. Assuming both player A and player B have equal skill, is their long-run expectation equal?

The majority of players would understand that player A has an advantage since he is routinely playing more hands than player B. Any time we rebuy in a poker tournament after busting, the expectation of the subsequent rebuy is hence lower than that of the initial buyin, similar to player B’s expectation in the thought experiment. We hence maximize ROI by buying in just once at the very beginning of the event.

However, there are some obvious exceptions as to why players might consider it +EV to rebuy despite the fact that it clearly does not maximize long-term ROI. 

1. We are playing a live tournament which involves significant travel expenses.

2. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime live event. If we don’t rebuy, we’ll never get another shot.

3. We are an online player but we want to maximise our volume and hourly rate, even if it means taking a small hit to overall ROI.  

Although it’s commonly imagined that the goal of a professional is to maximize their ROI (or winrate), the truth is that good players should usually be mostly concerned with maximizing their hourly rate. It’s easily arguable that rebuying can increase hourly rate in a number of different scenarios since it potentially allows online players to play a larger amount of tournament tables at one time.

As a final pointer, it’s worthy of note that rebuy tournaments involve more stringent bankroll requirements since the variance is higher. I.e a rebuy tournament with 200 players carries a greater degree of variance than a regular tournament with 200 entries. If we assume 50% of the players rebuy, then the 200 entry rebuy tournament functions more closely to a 300 entry regular tournament in  terms of variancet etc. (Generally the more players involved in a tournament, the higher the long-run variance).

Unlike tournaments, rebuying in cash games is generally consider standard practice. Rebuying allows us to play as close to our desired stack depth as possible. (While we’d be equally skilled at all stack depths in an ideal world, the average poker player has a skillset most applicable to playing at 100bb effective. Most professionals hence rebuy to 100bb if their stack drops below this).

See Also 

Tournament, Buyin, Winrate, Expected Value

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