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A guide to poker re-buys and add-ons

Rebuys and Add-Ons are two of the most under-appreciated and yet vitally important weapons in any poker player’s arsenal. If you want to succeed in online poker tournaments, it is crucial that you understand what Rebuys and Add-Ons are, how they work, and when you should use them.

Poker Tournaments: A Review of the Basics

Before discussing Rebuys and Add-Ons, it is worthwhile to go over the basics of how a poker tournament works. While a particular tournament might be slightly different in the details, these basic concepts apply to the vast majority of land-based and online poker tournaments.

The first concept is the Buy-In. This is the money you have to pay to play in the tournament. It is expressed as the sum of two numbers that can be as low as $0.25 + $0.05 or as high as $10,000 + $1,000 or even more, but in any event the first (bigger) number goes into the prize pool and the second (smaller) number goes to the casino as payment for hosting the tournament. In return for paying the Buy-In, every player receives an equal number of tournament chips.

Next is the concept of the Freezeout tournament. This means that a player who loses all his chips is eliminated from the tournament. Play continues until all players but one have been eliminated and the one remaining player is crowned the champion of the poker tournament.

Now, let’s take a look at Rebuys and Add-Ons.

Rebuys in Poker Tournaments

A Rebuy is, in many respects, exactly what it sounds like: a repeat of the original tournament Buy-In. In most tournaments, Rebuys are available ONLY during a specified time period, such as the first 60 minutes of the tournament, AND ONLY if you are out of chips or if the number of chips in your chip stack is equal to or less than your starting stack.

If these two conditions are met, then you can Rebuy. You pay a sum of money, usually equal to the prize-pool portion of the Buy-In (e.g., $10 if the Buy-In was $10+$1), and you receive a stack of chips, usually equal to the initial starting stack.

In many poker tournaments, you can Rebuy as many times as you want during the Rebuy period. The strategy implications of this rule are enormous. It means you can play wild and risky poker during the Rebuy period that you would not dare to play otherwise. Bet big on a possible but improbable draw: if you hit the draw, you’ve won yourself a big stack of chips and you’re in good shape to dominate the tournament; miss the draw, and you just Rebuy and you’re ready to start over fresh. When you play poker online you will undoubtedly see some wild and crazy—and very exciting—poker during the Rebuy period of a tournament.

Poker Tournament Add-Ons

Poker tournament Add-Ons are also just as the name suggests: a chance to add more chips to your stack. But Add-Ons differ from Rebuys is significant ways. Here is how Add-Ons work:

  • You may Add On only once.
  • The time to Add On is during the first break, after the end of the Rebuy period.
  • Every player may Add On, regardless of your stack size.
  • An Add-On usually costs the same as the prize-pool portion of the Buy-In (same as a Re-Buy).
  • An Add-On usually gives you more chips than the starting chip stack. For example, in the popular Montreal $500 GTD Lunch Date Tournament at Intertops Poker, the Buy-In is $8.00 + $0.80 and gives you 3,000 chips to start the tournament; a Rebuy costs $8.00 and gives you 3,000 chips; and an Add-On costs $8.00 and gives you 5,000 chips.

From a poker strategy point of view, it is always a good idea to purchase an Add-On. For one thing, you get good value for money: more chips for the same price. Even more important, it gives you a bigger stack, and a big stack allows you the freedom to play poker the way you want to: take risks when they are called for, to play cautiously when appropriate, and to intimidate your opponents into making dangerous plays, all good things that can help you succeed in any land-based or online poker tournament.

Good Luck in the Tournament!

Rebuys and Add-Ons cost you money beyond your original Buy-In to a poker tournament but in the long run, when used wisely, they can be seen as worthwhile investments in increasing your chances of winning the tournament and taking home a prize. Have fun, and good luck in the poker tournament!