Rebuy Poker Tournament Strategy Guide for Beginners

rebuy tournament strategy

One of my favourite types of tournaments is the old-fashioned rebuy format. For those of you inexperienced in tournaments or new to poker, I’m going to share the key parts of rebuy tournament strategy; what a rebuy tournament is, the advantages to playing them, how often to rebuy, whether to add on, and more. By the end of this post, you’ll have a good idea whether rebuy tournaments are worth exploring in future sessions.

What is a rebuy tournament?

Rebuy tournaments offer entrants the chance to purchase more chips. It is usually when you have a starting stack or less or when you lose them all. It’s important to note that rebuy tournaments only allow players to rebuy during a specific number of blind levels or duration. Once that period is over, you’ll be given the option to add-on. Each rebuy is usually the same price as the original buy-in (less the rake) and likewise for the add-on.

Advantages to rebuy tournaments

The major advantage to playing rebuys is the larger prize-pools it offers. This means you don’t need as many entrants as a freezeout would to earn more. With most players willing to rebuy at least once, plus the add-on, you can potentially generate a better ITM and ROI at the same cost as a regular multi-table tournament. PokerStars are generally known as the best online poker site in the industry and where you’ll find the best prize-pools fore buys.

Another perk to playing rebuys is the weaker players involved. From my experience, the rebuy tournaments tend to attract the whales. These are players who love to gamble and don’t mind paying many rebuys to chip up. The obvious advantage to this is that you can acquire a larger stack at their expense.

Now you know what rebuys are and the primary advantages, here are some tips if you choose to play them….

Set buy-in limits

Rebuys are great if you have solid bankroll management skills and self-control. But for those that are prone to tilting or gambling heavy, it can be a nightmare. For those with poor self-control you might find yourself rebuying lots and costing yourself a lot of money. Before you know it, you may need to final table just to break-even! Therefore, we recommend players set personal rules when it comes to rebuys. Set a limit to how many times you’ll rebuy and stick to it. We suggest rebuying no more than three times.

Take calculated risks during the rebuy period

The beauty of rebuys is the opportunity to chip up and build a nice stack for when the rebuy period is over. This means taking calculated risks during rebuy to amass a big stack. Whilst you can play a nitty style in rebuys, it’s not advisable. Otherwise, you’re relying on getting aces or kings and getting paid. Sure, it may happen sometimes, but it’s better to use the rebuy stage to speculate. Remember, your opponents will be playing wider ranges so you can drop your standards a wee bit too. Otherwise, you may as well play a normal freezeout tournament.

Always use the add-on

If you’ve survived the rebuy stage, you’ll get the chance to add on. This is usually for the same cost as the original buy-in. We always recommend students use this as a chance to increase your stack. It’s almost always wise to utilise the add on and it should be factored into your entering the tournament.

If you’re short stacked, it will represent a significant increase and if you’re already big stacked, it is a healthy add-on. Remember your first goal is to cash and those extra chips may help you survive a bad beat or make a double up even more worthwhile – so take the add on.

Punish those still gambling

Good rebuy tournament strategy is to adapt to the table once rebuys are over. We often find there are still people gambling more than they should be. Perhaps they just entered the tournament to gamble or mentally can’t adjust, either way, they are there to be punished. The best way to beat up on those playing too many hands is to isolate them pre-flop and abuse them in position. By getting pots one on one with them and playing in position, you can expect a high success rate post-flop. Remember, your opponents will only hit the flop around 1 in 3 so you can win a lot of pots from these. Just remember to slow-down if they check-raise or call down on dry texture boards.  

Middle and late rebuy strategy?

Once you’ve passed the initial rebuy phase and the hour or two after, it will feel like a regular tournament. Usually, stacks are deeper so push-fold will be less important to you. So now it’s time to employ standard tournament strategy. For that, I recommend reading our articles below:

Narciso Baldo is the Director and Head Coach of Texas Hold'em Questions. He has been playing poker for over 16 years. After spending many years as a professional, he now runs UK poker training site Texas Hold'em Questions. Narciso regularly writes poker articles sharing tips, strategy, news and experience with gambling enthusiasts. Narciso also writes for reputable gambling portal Casino City Times, (bio here). Contact: