Rebuy Madness. Sounds kinda like a Broadway play. Or maybe a Cheech n Chong movie. But no. Rebuy Madness is the name some of our poker blogging brethren have given to the nightly low-limit rebuy guaranteed tournaments on pokerstars. In particular I have heard the $11 rebuy 55k guaranteed tourney referred to in this way, but to me, the true embodiment of Rebuy Madness is the slightly earlier $3.30 rebuy tournament with 22k guaranteed. I've played this a few times when I'm online earlier than usual, and it is a crazy time, every time. So I thought I'd present here a guide to this tournament, for those who have not yet dared to try, as well as those who just like hearing the stories of what is, seriously, the craziest regular MTT I know of on the Internet.
First of all, given that the buyin is so low at just over three lousy bucks, almost everyone at your table will rebuy once before the first hand is even dealt. Personally I don't dig on that, but I think at my 9-person table, 7 of us rebought prior to hand #1, with just me and one guy across the table being willing to strike out alone on just our $3. As if anybody in this thing ever goes through without rebuying at least once. So, right off the bat, I was short stacked. Great.
Then the tournament begins, and what you'll see in the first several hands is just plain funny. I mean, really hilarious. As bad as it is in the $11 rebuy (and believe me, it's also hilarious at first in that one), for a $3 buyin, these guys will push with anything. Literally. Here's the second hand last night (the first hand was just like this but I didn't screenshot it in time -- take my word for it):
Care to guess what everyone had to justify the early position allin raise, then the allin from middle position, then the allin call from another player in middle position, then the allin reraise from late position? Formulate your guesses, and when you're ready, here comes the answer:
And there you have it why the $3 rebuy truly is Rebuy Madness. K5? Push! Q7 against an allin raise from early position? Move 'em in! AJ after FOUR allins ahead of you? Why not?
OK now here is the very next hand:
Wanna play the guessing game again? Formulate your guesses, and then here it is:
Here we've got an allin raise from early position with 77. Then an allin call from middle position with the powerhouse 98s. Then an allin reraise from middle position with AQ, another powerhouse with 2 allins ahead of you. Then the obligatory allin re-reraise with bullets, the early luckbox, and finally the allin call from late position with A7s, because he certainly couldn't think he was dominated in that situation by one of the four allins ahead of him.
So this is what you get to watch for the first 10 or 15 minutes of every one of these Rebuy Madness tournaments on stars. People show up, especially for $3, ready, willing, able and in fact insisting to rebuy 5 or 6 times, and that's just what many of them do right off the bat, moving in with any cards that have any potential at all, regardless of the action in front of you or the number of players left to play behind you. These clowns want you to call their K5s with your 99. They need you to call their 98s with your AQo. They rely on it to give them their shot at building a huge stack cheaply early on in this tournament. And they could not care any less about the prospect of dumping another $3.30 to start it over again. The proper strategy adjustment here, assuming you're not one of the pushmonkeys, is to only play strong starting cards, or else just sit on the sidelines and watch the monkeys at play. Because if you do get a hand (case in point: the bullets in the screenshot above), you're gonna get paid off on it in a big way. And if you do get a hand, maybe try to move in real quick or something to make yourself look just like another one of the pushmonkeys. These guys will call you with anything remotely possible to win, and boy do they love them some sOOted cards!
After 15 minutes or so, the monkeys have either rebought 5 or 10 times, or they've found their way into a pile of chips. This is when the tournament screws down a bit preflop. But the funny thing about it, is that it suddenly, almost from one hand to the next, becomes the most passive game around before the flop. This will also last for another 30 minutes or so, and during this time, you can see almost every flop for just a limp and with almost every pot being multiway, in many cases family pots. The monkeys are still out to play after the flop, and people are still actively looking to either double or rebuy, but before the flop people will rein it in quite a bit. So, during this phase the smart player can adjust his or her starting card requirements to play for the minimum any two cards with decent multiway chances. Sooted cards, connectors, good hands of course, anything that if you do hit it, you can make a large pot with it. Here are some examples, taken from just maybe 10 minutes after the earlier screenshots with the five preflop pushmonkeys. Here is me limping in to a five-way pot with an offsuit one-gapper from the big blind:
And here is the very next hand, me limping from the SB into a 6-way pot:
Why does the smart player adjust to limp along from any blinds into an unraised pot, and play as many hands with potential as possible during this super-passive preflop phase? Because sometimes, starting hands like the one above can quickly turn into this one when you've limped in along with 5 of your opponents at the table:
I figured I wasn't making a dime on this hand unless somebody hit something, but that if someone did hit something I should be able to take advantage given that this was Rebuy Madness, so I checked the flop, and it checked around. I checked again on the turn (a 6 of diamonds), and it was again checked around. I even checked on the river, and when the big monkey across the table bet out with 80, I figured he must have an Ace. So I did what any reasonable Rebuy Madman would do -- I pushed, figuring I'd get a call. And he reraised allin of course:
Doyle gave some dang good advice in the original Super System when he said that he will typically check the flop and even the turn if he has to when he flops a boat. He does prefer that more with the nut boat than the under full, but still. The man knows his shiznit.
Anyways, near the end of the first round of Rebuy Madness, people will suddenly start taking some more chances again with their whole stacks, because you can't rebuy after the first break, and in fact you can't rebuy at all unless you have under 1500 chips. So, when you get a fairly strong hand, you can push with it again preflop and expect to get some action from people who are behind you, and from people ahead of you but who are susceptible to getting beat once the board hits. Case in point, about three minutes before the end of Round 1:
I raise big preflop on the button, and two early limpers raise and call my large raise. Turns out, this is the board, and I doubled up again just minutes before the first break:
And then, on the very last hand before the break, I'm dealt AJo again, and again I push, on the same theory that the monkeys will make their last grab before the end of the rebuy period:
The BB thinks and thinks, and as the system notifies us that the break will start at the end of this hand, the BB types "I'm bored", and calls me with the following killer for all his chips:
And SLAM! Two double-ups in a row to end Round 1. So remember, the very end of the rebuy period is your last chance to get the pushmonkeys when they are once again at their most aggressive during Rebuy Madness. And one other strategic point: following the advice of poker literature heavies like Doyle and Harrington, I recommend as a strategic decision to always take the add-on at the first break (unless you have a huge, huge chip stack I suppose), because it is at better odds than the original buyin. During the first round, you can purchase 1500 additional chips for $3.30. The add-on, however, is 2000 chips for $3.30. So I took one even though I was above average heading into Round 2. Those chips just come noticeably cheaper than the original buyin, and the experts seem to agree that these kinds of add-ons are good choices in rebuy events.
At the beginning of Round 2 of Rebuy Madness, you're now down to around 1000 people left, and it's like the start of a whole new tournament, a regular, normal tournament. However, people will still start off Round 2 a bit on the passive side before the flop -- a holdover from the last 30 or 40 minutes of Round 1 -- so by playing good multiway starting hands, and complementing that with being aggresive after the flop, you can steal more than your share of pots as Round 2 begins. One move that I love to crack out in this situation is the steal-bet when a pair comes on the flop. With a pair on the flop (assuming it's not AAK or something scary like that), the odds are significantly less than the flop hit your opponent's hand, since there are only two cards for your opponent to match to his hole cards, instead of the usual three options if the flop comes with three different valued cards. So, if you have the mettle to make aggressive stealy moves with nothing, these are golden opportunities at a time when seeing the flop can be so cheap like early in Rebuy Madness Round 2. So, for example, this hand:
can take down the pot, even on a scary flop, when bet properly post-flop, because you can use the increased likelihood of your opponent having missed the flop entirely to combine with a sizeable bet and elicit a fold:
Similarly, this hand:
wins again when bet properly, mostly because of the pair on the flop making it very difficult for an opponent to have hit the board. And notice, with both of the above hands, since I am properly only playing fairly strong cards to see flops cheaply, in both cases I'm pretty sure I actually did have the best hand after the flop came out, so we're not really bluffing in the true sense of the word. This is just good, solid, aggressive poker, making a strong move on a flop that is highly likely to have missed your opponent and where you are most likely ahead. Yes I will fold these situations almost automatically to a reraise, but the percentage of players in a tournament like Rebuy Madness who are capable of making that move on me with a weaker hand than mine is well into the single digits.
And now we get to the best part about making all those aggressive moves at pots with flops that seem innocuous to most unobservant players: A hand like this comes up:
Here I've hit two pairs on a raggy flop. First position bets, and I raise:
He calls, a Jack comes on the turn, and when it's checked to me, I pause for effect but then bet it again, and I'm not talking about a gutless bet, but a real man's bet of around the size of a now large pot. This guy calls me again, because he's seen me take down all these pots on raggy flops in this round, and just doesn't see how I could have hit the board again. Then on the river, I move in despite the flush card showing up, and this guy calls me down for all his chips, with just his 3rd pair and busted OESD on the flop:
Again, this is all brought on by my early aggressiveness in this round of the Rebuy Madness tournament. These moves don't work nearly as well in a tournament that is not designed to attract crazy people, and it will really not work as well if you are a rock and consistently only get your money in with the stone nuts, as rarely as that occurs. But this is a great example of the power of using your aggression to set up your plays in future hands when you really nail the board in an undetectable way.
By the time you're about halfway into Round 2, the madness is largely gone from Rebuy Madness. People begin to play more or less like any other MTT. There is still a higher fish factor than in most other MTTs at this point, as a lot of dopes will have monkeyed their way into large stacks early, and are just hanging around now and waiting for pocket Aces to slap them in the face. But otherwise, it plays like a normal MTT. Unfortunately, this means that there will still be plenty of guys who just can't find the inner strength to lay down AQs against an allin reraise preflop for all their chips:
That one SUCKED! A few hands later, I limped in with 22, and pulled another of my big-raise-on-the-paired-flop moves, and won a nice pot when AKo could not lay that hand down either even with no hit on the flop:
Although this hand got me back to a respectable stack, the luck was not with me when a few hands later I moved in in late position against three limpers with AJo, and unfortunately only one guy called my allin raise:
I got no help, and IGH in 480th place out of the 1500 entrants and 6000+ total buyins to the tournament. In all, an extremely fun tournament to play, and one which I look forward to playing in again the next time I am free around 9pm ET for some pokery goodness. The strategy guidelines I have included above seem to work well in all the low-limit rebuy tournaments on pokerstars, so I expect to use them again in the near future in another of these events. If anyone has any other hints or tricks for the big rebuy tourneys online, please post them in the comments!