Many online poker tournaments have some sort of re-buy structure whereby if you go below a certain amount of chips, or lose all you chips, you can re-buy a specified amount during a time period (usually the first 90 minutes). After which the tournament will play to conclusion in a "freeze-out". This rebuy-in amount is usually the initial buy-in amount. Many beginners find this problematic when starting out in the world of tournament poker. Cardrooms and casinos only really hold freeze out tournaments (no rebuys) when the stakes get a lot higher (though there are some available, check you local cardroom). There are different strategies to be used in both types of tournaments. This article will focus on rebuy tournament strategy.
Most beginners make the mistake of playing too tightly, time is of the essence in rebuy tournaments, so the quicker you get the table figured out, the quicker you can adopt an optimum style of poker for the table.
If you find yourself at a loose table with people losing chips quickly and then re-buying in again immediately, it's simply not good enough playing tight. You can make the mistake of thinking that you're not doing too bad because you haven't re-bought, while these maniacs are going all in and then are re-buying constantly. It's true, you're not losing a lot of money, but unfortunately you won't be winning too many hands either and someone at your table will be accumulating a lot of chips.
You should be aiming to clear the re-buy period with about 2-3 times the starting buy-in at least. Most players around you will have set themselves a budget, for instance if you are playing in a £10 rebuy tournament, they may have a budget of £50 in which to double up chips with any playable hand.
The only answer to this situation is to play more aggressive. If you are playing conservatively to conserve your chips, this will not allow you to compete effectively with the other players. After the rebuy period is time to play conservative. During the rebuy period playing aggressive is the only way to play in a tournament during the rebuy period, you want to build your chips up as soon as possible. Chips are king, and the king has power at the poker table. You need to win pots and distance yourself from the re-buy threshold.
If you can't afford to be able to buy-in at least 3-4 times and add-on, then you shouldn't really be playing at that level. You won't be able to play your best poker, if someone can endlessly buy-in where you can't, the action will be too loose and aggressive. Bad Beats happen - in the early stages of rebuy tourneys they are all the more frequent as all-in hands are shown down to the river. It's very rare that you will win a £10 tournament with a mere £10. As with all poker, start off small and move up, or try and find a Freezeout tournament.
Why should people be allowed to re-buy?
The reason why re-buys are allowed in tournaments, is that is it makes it more exciting are forces the game to be more aggressive, also it contributes tidily to the prize fund. Also from another point of view it gives a player more options to see more cards if he/she is allowed to re-buy in; you are allowed to play looser because if you lose you can rebuy. It also dampens those hideous bad beats. This can only be a good thing in something like a multi-table tournament, when you're competing against a huge amount of people for a big prize. Look on the bright side, you've come to play poker, do you really want go out in the first half hour due to bad cards?
Before the rebuy period stops, you will have the option of adding on or buying in another fixed amount of chips, no matter how many chips you have. As a rule of thumb you should always buy the add-on unless it will not increase your stack by at least 20 percent. For example, if you have £100 in chips, you should add on if it provides you at least £20 more in chips. Once the rebuy period ends, the tournament then becomes a freeze and once your chips are gone, they're gone - and you're out. The key here is to revert back to the tight aggressive style of play, that's assuming of course that the blinds aren't too crippling.