This is the one in a series of strategies I am developing for no limit hold’em played online. The idea is to identify patterns and use a combination of player composition, patterns and applied mathematics (odds) to come up with the best way to beat any particular game at a given point in time.
One basic theme in all of my hold’em strategies is that both of your pocket cards must play to be successful. The reason is to take as many options away from your opponents as possible.
This article is about re-buy tournaments. In general I think you should always re-buy and add-on. So why not stop here? Well, I think there is some strategy to re-buy tourneys. First, we have to segregate the tourneys into manageable chunks.
Here is how I divide them:
- Free-rolls with re-buys.
- Buy-in with unlimited re-buys in the first hour.
- Buy-in with limited re-buys in the first hour.
For paid re-buys, consider the initial pot of money to at least double in a re-buy tourney without increasing the number of places paid.
Now that we have that settled, let’s take a look at the differences...
First off a re-buy will generally allow you to add-on chips during the first hour if your chip count falls below your starting chips. The strategy here is to play the first hand that is not raised before you make your play and add-on right after that hand. This will give you the chip lead at your table or will put you near the chip leader board at your table right away.
Second, anytime you fall below the starting chips, do an add-on. You will need these chips to help build your stack.
Most players in a free-roll re-buy tourney will not re-buy. You should always re-buy in these tourneys. Free-rolls with re-buys will generally have unlimited re-buys for the first hour. For free-rolls, consider the tourney to be volatile until the end of the re-buy tourney. You can also be pretty loose during this period since you can always buy back in if you go out. So what does it mean to you? Is it worth it to re-buy 10 or 12 times in a $1 free-roll that has a total prize of $1000 with $200 as first place? You would have to get to the final table to make your money back. From the pure money standpoint I would say no. From the standpoint of final table play or making it to the final table, I would say this is worth the price. Consider the $12 an investment in experience on playing in high stakes (for this tourney anyway) poker.
So the hand selection for re-buy tourneys would be to add to your normal hand selection (consult the tourney hand selections from this site, either mine or p-s.org’s) calling with any paint or any suited hands. Also, call with any Ace. If you hit top pair you should go all-in. If you have any pair, go all-in pre-flop. Once you get to double the starting chips, then play your normal strategy with an eye to a little looser play since you can always re-buy.
Buy-ins with unlimited re-buys:
These tourneys have a little more commitment. There will be more players that re-buy than in the free-roll. Much like the free-roll, play your first hand that you can and fold so you can re-buy. Again, being chip leader at the table is important, even with a re-buy tourney.
In addition to your normal strategy, I would play mid to small pairs strongly along with suited hands that have a 10 or better in them. I would also play any Ace suited or not by limping or calling 4x the big blind. Post flop play can be tricky, but betting big with high pairs, 2nd pairs that are paint and 4 flush hands is something to do. Try to drive limpers out. After all, you can re-buy.
Buy-ins with limited re-buys:
This type of tourney generally allows 3 re-buys and one add-on at the end of the first hour. I would employ the strategy of playing the first hand for the big blind and folding so I could add-on right away and be the big stack at my table right away. I would then play my normal strategy with the following modifications.
Adjust to your normal strategy when you are down to one re-buy.
- Go all-in with any pair if only limpers or all folders came in before the flop. Call any raise up to 8x the big blind, otherwise fold.
- Go all-in with any 2 cards that are paint before the flop unless there is a 6x raise in front of you, otherwise fold.
- Raise 4x with any Ace if no raises in front of you, otherwise fold.
- Call with any Ax suited as long as the raise is less that 50% of your chips.
- Consider that you can add-on if your chips fall below your starting chips.
- You should call if you fall below the chip starting point since you can add-on or re-buy.
- Evaluate your hand after the flop to decide if you want to go on.
After the end of the re-buy period there will be an add-on period. Take advantage of this unless you have so many chips that you don’t need the add-on. As a general rule, if the add-on will give you less that 10% of your chips or if no-one can pass you as the chip leader then do not add-on. If you can become the chip leader or if adding on will increase your chip stack more than 10%, then go ahead and add-on.
Once the re-buy/add-on period has ended, go back to your normal tourney strategy.
I welcome comments and actual results using this strategy. I make no warranty that it will work, but I will affirm that I have used it myself with success under the conditions I played (those specified above). Your mileage may vary.