Defending Against the Super Loose Strategy

Rebuy Tournament StrategyOne hurdle that you’ll have to jump in almost all rebuy tournaments is players making massive over bets when they move all in before the flop and to a lesser extent on the flop. It’s not rare in the smaller rebuy tournaments to see some players move all in for thousands of chips when there are very few chips in the pot. These players are using the Super Loose Strategy and while they’re usually not doing themselves any favors, if you’re not getting good cards they can make it tough on you. It becomes difficult or impossible to put these players on a hand and you’ll find yourself getting involved in pots where your opponent could have just about anything.

You’re best bet against this type of player is to wait for a good hand, get your chips in there and cross your fingers. What you don’t want to do is get frustrated by your opponents moving all in left and right and start calling them down with hands that are below average. In the most extreme case where you are willing to do as many rebuys as you need to and you have an opponent who is moving in literally every hand you should get involved with any hand that is above average. The following hands are between 52% and 55% to win against two random cards: (pairs) 33, (suited hands) K4-K2, Q7-Q5, J8, T9, (unsuited hands) A2, K6-K4, Q9, Q8, JT, J9.

A major thing to keep in mind is the number of players left to act behind you. One of them might have a real hand or decide to gamble a little bit in an effort to win a big pot and all of a sudden you’re hand that looked OK against the maniac is way behind against a third player. If you’re last to act and you’ve got someone who’s sending in all of their chips every time then anything as good or better than the above hands is worth calling with.

If you’re not willing to rebuy more than a few times or you have a player who’s going all in frequently, but not every pot, you need to be more selective. Stay patient and at least wait for a pair, an ace or a king with a big kicker if you’re going to commit all of your chips before the flop against one of these super loose players.

Another thing to consider is limping in with a big hand if you find yourself acting before a player using the Super Loose Strategy. If someone seems to be raising every hand, when you get a big pair or a big ace, give them some rope to hang themselves with.

All Pairs and Kickers are not Created Equal

In rebuy tournaments you’ll find yourself going all in and calling all ins much more frequently that you would in a standard tournament. One big mistake many players make is calling down all ins against loose opponents with any ace or any pair when the difference between seemingly similar hands is drastic. Take the comparison between 22 and 55 for example. Both are small pairs, they’ll be small favorites against most hands that contain two over cards (they’ll be a little behind against hands like J-T suited and Q-J suited) and certainly neither is an earth shatteringly good hand. But with 22 you’ll never be a big favorite against a hand unless it contains one of the other two deuces. On the other hand, with 55 if you’re opponent has any one of 14 cards (4 twos, 4 threes, 4 fours, and 2 fives) you’ll be at least a 2 to1 favorite. Every time you’re pair goes up another notch it adds 4 cards to the list of candidates that you’d love to see in you’re opponent’s hand.

Similarly, the difference between an ace with a small kicker and one with a medium kicker is enormous. With A-2 you’ll always only have one over card against a pair (which will leave you close to a 3 to 1 underdog) and unless you run into another hand with a deuce in it, at best you’ll be a 60/40 favorite. Even with hands like A-5 and A-6 you’ll rarely have two over cards and if you do happen to run into a smaller ace you’ll almost always chop if you both miss your kickers. But, when you start getting into the medium kicker range, every time you go up a rank on your kicker the chances go up drastically that if you run into a player who has a smaller ace and you’re kicker will matter. Also you’ll find yourself in more situations where you have two over cards to a pair instead of just one, or two over cards against two under cards, which needless to say makes a big difference.

When to do the Add-On

At the end of the rebuy period in most rebuy tournaments you can buy more chips regardless of the number in your stack. To sweeten the deal, normally the add-on comes with 25%-50% more chips than a normal rebuy. While it almost always makes sense to take the add-on, taking it every time isn’t optimal. When making the decision about taking the add-on or not, the factors to think about are your stack size and how much those extra chips are going to help your chances. If you’ve hit the monster rush of all time, you’ve got 200,000 chips and the add-on is only going to add 2,000 chips to your stack then you’re better off saving your money. On the other end of the spectrum if you have 3,000 chips and you can put another 2,000 on it, clearly those chips are going to have a big impact on your chances.
In general, taking the add-on is a good idea. Those extra chips will have a multiplied effect every time you double up (in other words, if you add a 2000 chip add on to your 8,000 chips stack you’ll end up with 20,000 chips if you double up instead of 16,000, and you’ll have 40,000 if you double up again instead of 32,000) and could be the difference between going broke and surviving. While it might seem like the difference between totally broke and short stacked isn’t that significant, it’s actually huge. You’re never out of it until you have zero chips and I’m sure any regular tournament player you ask will have a story about how they came back from the brink of elimination to make the money or even win a tournament.
The bottom line is, when you can increase your stack by more than 10% taking the add-on will help your chances enough to justify the cost.

Playing in Rebuy Satellites

In a normal rebuy tournament there is a big pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that frequently justifies making quite a few rebuys. On the other hand, in rebuy satellites the maximum potential win is much smaller in relation to the size of the buy in and the rebuys. As a result you should play slightly tighter and plan on taking fewer rebuys than you normally would in a regular rebuy tournament.

You should look at the value of the seat you’re trying to win in relation to the cost of the rebuys when you’re deciding how loose and aggressive you want to be. After all it doesn’t make much sense to spend money on five or six rebuys for a chance to win a seat that’s only worth the value of 10 rebuys. But if you find yourself in a tournament where you’re playing for a $10,000 seat and the rebuys only cost $30 then taking more risks (which will frequently lead to more rebuys) is justified.

Another mistake some players make in rebuy satellites is playing too many hands when they’ve got the seat virtually locked up. Some players feel like it’s their duty to go after the short stacks when they have a huge lead. While it a regular tournament with different payouts for different places that’s exactly what you want to do, it doesn’t make any sense in satellites. When all of the top finishers get the same prize and you have enough chips to cruise into victory lane, why would you put any chips at risk that you don’t have to even if you have a monster hand? Just be patient. Those short stacks will bust each other eventually and you’ll end up with the same amount of money.

Also see Part I of the Rebuy Tournament Strategy guide.

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