McHaffie: MCU lesson 133 / Rebuy or not

Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published in Poker Player newspaper in 2008.

This is part of a series by Diane McHaffie. She wasn’t a poker player when she began writing this series. These entries chronicle the lessons given to her personally by Mike Caro. Included in her remarkable  poker-learning odyssey are additional comments, tips, and observations from Mike Caro.

Diane McHaffie index.

Diane McHaffie is Director of Operations at Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy. She has traveled the world coordinating events and seminars in the interest of honest poker. You can write her online at

Diane McHaffie

Lessons from MCU

— With bonus content by Mike Caro (pending) —

Lesson 133: To rebuy or not to rebuy

Tournament players are often in doubt about concerning whether to rebuy, if the opportunity is presented. Mike doesn’t advocate tournaments that offer the chance to rebuy. He feels that it doesn’t allow players the same shot at the prize.

But, despite his advice to management, many tournaments do allow you the chance to rebuy. And, if you enter these, Mike suggests that you often take advantage of the rebuy opportunity, but there are some factors that he says you might want to consider before doing so. If you’re playing a rare tournament where the winner takes all or you get to keep your remaining chips when the tournament ends, then rebuying is of less importance.


Always consider whether you are monetarily able to rebuy. Mike suggests that if rebuying is going to be too risky for you, it might be more profitable to walk away and go in search of a side game.

Suppose it’s a typical prize structure — what Mike calls “proportional payout” — where first place wins a portion of the prize pool, but most of the money goes in reduced percentages to second, third, fourth, and so forth. If other players have chosen not to rebuy and have surrendered their spot and exited the tournament, you might find it profitable to rebuy and remain in the game. Your chances for profit have just improved.

You should take the skill of the remaining players into consideration when deciding whether or not to rebuy. What if many of your opponents have towering stacks of chips, but aren’t forceful bulldogs out to chew you up, but are instead weak and kittenish? Absolutely rebuy! Here’s your opportunity to stomp on the meek and claim some of the money!


Mike says it’s usually correct mathematically to rebuy if you lose all your chips. If you have the opportunity to rebuy without going broke first (as is the case with so-called “add-on” decisions), then a good rule of thumb is to do so if you will at least triple your current stack. But you can make even wiser rebuy decisions by evaluating opponents. If you’re regarding your dwindling pile of chips, chewing on your lower lip, wringing your hands in indecision about whether you should or shouldn’t rebuy, take a minute to look around at your opponents. Where are the intimidating stacks of chips residing? Are those chips owned by the pathetic players or the tough players? Well, if the chip owners are the tough opponents, you might want to pack it up and go in search of a desirable side game. But, if the chips are owned by the puny, hesitant players, rebuy and stay to conquer!

Be more aggressive when you plan on rebuying; you can take advantage of the small advantages that that you would be unable to if you don’t plan on rebuying.

If you’re playing tournaments where you aren’t allowed to rebuy then you need to go back into survivalist mode. You have to play more conservatively.


In a non-rebuy tournament, bluffing is easier, because players are more cautious about endangering their chips at the beginning. When bluffing in a rebuy tournament it’s wisest to attempt bluffing it after the last rebuy option has been offered, since the players that have taken advantage of this opportunity are usually going to go back into conservative mode, not wishing to risk their newly purchased chips. Another player that is easier to bluff is one who hasn’t taken advantage of the rebuy and is nursing his remaining chips.

It’s profitable for you to be able to determine who is going to rebuy and who isn’t. Mike is known for asking his opponents: What do you think I should do?  How would you play this? Would you rebuy in my situation? If you’re subtle about it you’ll often get a response. If their answer is that they don’t like to rebuy or they rarely rebuy or they usually just rebuy once. Then you know how to proceed. Bluffing gets the green light!

I hope that I have helped with your rebuy dilemma.  — DM

Next entry in Lessons from MCU series


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