Explaining "Rebuy" in Poker

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A rebuy in poker is buying more chips when you have lost your entire stack or have fallen to a short stack level. Depending on whether you are playing in a tournament or a cash game, there are different rules and procedures.

Rebuys in a Cash Game

In cash games, if you lose your entire stack or most of it, you may choose to rebuy back in with more cash and keep playing. In cash games, you can only rebuy when you are not in a hand. If you are running short on chips and are dealt a pair of aces but can't make the maximum bet you want, you can't rebuy at that point.

The rules for rebuys for cash games usually include a maximum buy-in, and your rebuy can't put you over that limit. There may also be a table minimum and you may have to make your rebuy enough to meet that minimum.

Rebuys in a Poker Tournament

In a poker tournament, there is often an option to rebuy to get back into a tournament if you bust out or your chip stack falls below a certain number. You may be allowed to rebuy only once during the tournament or you may be able to rebuy multiple or even unlimited times.

When a tournament allows rebuys for short stacks, such as when you fall below 500 chips for a 2500 starting chip stack, your rebuy will only bring you up to the original chip stack.

Tournaments limit rebuys to a designated period, such as until the first break. After that, it is a freezeout. If you bust out during the freezeout, you are out of the tournament. Always check the tournament rules to see when the rebuy period expires.

The effect of rebuys and reentries on tournaments is that they build the prize pool, leveraging the number of players who enter the game. You may start out with a small prize pool, but as players bust out and rebuy or reenter, the prize pool grows.

Budget for rebuys, reentries, and add-ons and decide on your strategy. A tournament that allows rebuys and reentries will often have looser play in the rebuy/reentry period. You can use that to your advantage. You may decide to play looser yourself in the early blinds or play aggressively when you are short stacked, knowing you can rebuy if you bust out.

Tournament Rebuy Compared with Reentry and Add-on

Some people confuse rebuys with a reentry. In a rebuy, when you bust out or your chips get low enough, you buy back in right there at the table. You even retain your same seat. In a re-entry tournament, you need to go back to the cage and buy a whole new entry and draw a new seat as if you were a brand new entrant into the poker tournament.

Rebuys are also different from add-ons, which allow all players to purchase additional chips, regardless of how many they still have. Usually, this is done at a specific time, such as at the first break. Add-ons usually have a better value, and you may be able to time it right to have both a rebuy and an add-on at the same time.

Edited by Adam Stemple