Freezeout or Re-buy, Which Do You Prefer?

Posted by Steven, March 21, 2013



Poker players can easily distinguish between the two formats of poker tournaments. In freezeout tournaments, you have your starting stack of chips and if that stack is depleted, you are eliminated from the action. In re-buy tournaments, you are allowed to purchase more chips, either when your entire stack is gone, or when it drops below a certain level. In some re-buy tournaments you are limited to one re-purchase of chips, while in others there may be unlimited re-buys. An add-on offered to all players during a tournament’s first break is also a common feature included in re-buy tournaments.

As a beginning poker player, which type of tournament should you play? Where do you have a better chance of finishing in the money? In addition, are there different strategies employed in the two types of tournaments?

All tournaments are freezeouts

First, you should realize that eventually, all re-buy tournaments become freezeouts. The purchase of additional chips, according to the tournament’s set-up, is limited in time. Eventually players get past the re-buy period and then the tournament continues along the lines of ordinary freezeout tournaments. If you lose your chips at that point, you are eliminated from the action.

The next thing you should understand is that re-buy tournaments offer players an opportunity to play for a bigger prize pool at a lower initial investment. If, for example, we’re talking about two tournaments that each guarantee $10,000 in prizes, the freezeout would have a higher entry cost than the re-buy. This is because it is assumed that many of the players participating in the re-buy tournament will make additional purchases of chips, contributing frequently to the prize pool that will be distributed to the winning players.

In re-buys, you’re up against a bigger field

With a limited bankroll, you may be inclined to play the lower-priced re-buy tournaments. If this is the case, you must realize that you will be playing with a disadvantage against players for whom a bankroll is not a concern. You may be hoping that your lower entry will allow you, with a good string of cards, to make it all the way into the money without having to make re-buys. As a result, you may end up playing very conservatively. Your opponents, on the other hand, will have nothing to lose when they’re opposing you in a hand. They will be more inclined to take chances by going all-in frequently, knowing that if they lose, they can always re-buy their way into the tournament.

Re-buys are actually additional buy-ins to the tournament. Instead of playing against a starting field of 100 players, for example, you’ll be up against a field of 100 players, each making 3 or 4 re-buys. In this case, you’re not really one out of a hundred, but actually one out of three or four hundred.

Starting levels of a re-buy are wild

The starting levels of a re-buy tournament can see very wild action, with very aggressive players making wild bets that will keep you out of the action. You may find that you’re not comfortable with this type of poker action. Playing freezeouts may be better for you. In freezeouts, the playing field is really equal. Once you’re out of chips, you’re out of chips.

Strategies differ between freezeout tournaments and re-buy tournaments. For some, staying in the tournament is a strategy in itself. For others, building up a huge stack during the re-buy period is essential, and will give them a head start when the re-buys end.

A general rule of thumb for participating in re-buy tournaments is being prepared, from the start, to make about five re-buys. You should consider this before you register for a tournament, because signing up for an event where you cannot make the financial commitment of additional chip purchases will leave you at a serious disadvantage.

The bottom line is that you must master the freezeout tournament and its playing style no matter what. Once you’re comfortable playing freezeouts at a buy-in level you can afford, you can consider adding re-buy tournaments to your poker-playing repertoire.

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