Add-ons in a Poker Tournament

All in
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An add-on is an additional buy-in in a poker tournament.

In a poker tournament, they may offer an 'add-on,' which is an option to buy more chips than a player received with his original buy-in. Usually, there is one option to 'add-on' during a tournament, at the end of the rebuy period or at the first break. Add-ons are more common in rebuy tournaments, where players have probably been buying in repeatedly already when they busted or their stack got low. However, an add-on is different than a rebuy in that players can choose to 'add-on' regardless of how many chips they have. And it is definitely different from a re-entry, where not only do you have to be busted, you need to go to the cage and buy an entirely new entry rather than just buying in where you sit.

The price of the add-on and how many chips it provides to the player is completely at the discretion of whoever runs the tournament, though it is the same for everyone and should be known before the tournament starts. i.e. "This $30 tournament features unlimited rebuys and a $10 add-on for 2,000 additional chips at the end of the rebuy period."

If the number of chips the add-on gives you isn't mentioned, you can always ask. It's a common question and It's best to know up front so you can plan your strategy accordingly.

Add-on Strategy

You always want to know how much of a percentage boost the add-on will give your stack and how much of a percentage of your buy-in it is going to cost. If you can double your stack for less than the original buy-in, you should definitely take the add-on. But if you've already gone on a good run and built your stack to the point where an add-on would only gain you 15% for the same price, then it would be silly to add-on. Basically, any time the percentage of your buy-in add-on costs is less than the percentage increase in your stack it provides, you should take the add-on.

There are other considerations, however:

  • Will it give you the chip lead at your table? Having the chip lead — and more importantly, knowing how to use it — can be worth a slight negative in the straight up value of an add-on.
  • Do the extra chips keep you even or ahead of a player you know would be hard to deal with if you didn't have enough chips to scare them with. By the time the add-on comes around, you should have a good idea of who these players are. Watch to see if they take the add-on — you may need to take one yourself just to keep pace.
  • Does the add-on's cost put you into the tourney more than you are comfortable? You should have factored this in before you played, but perhaps you used your case money to rebuy at a very good table. It can take quite a few rebuy/add-on tourneys before you get comfortable with how much they are actually likely to cost you.
  • If you are backed or sharing the tournament buy-in with others in some way, does the add-on come out of your pocket or the communal one? Another factor that should be hammered out before the first hand of tournament poker is dealt.

Edited by Adam Stemple.