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02 Jun 2014

Re-entry Considerations 

No, this post is not about NASA missions. It’s about poker tournaments where you are allowed to re-enter the tournament after you’ve busted out at least once.

The tournament I won last week at Aria was a single-reentry tournament, and you could only re-enter up til the fourth level of play was over.

Around the middle of the third level, I found myself all-in preflop with TT vs. QQ:

(Image courtesy of [CardPlayer's Poker Odds Calculator](http://www.cardplayer.com/poker-tools/odds-calculator/texas-holdem)) How did I get myself into this situation? Well, for starters, let's state the obvious about the potential advantage a re-entry can give you: a chance to double (or, more rarely, triple)-up early. If you really believe in your skills as a tournament player, risking the need to buy-in again to potentially double-up (even taking the worst of it) early is worth it. In fact, often times if you get all-in with the worst of it and win, it's better! You will have a great table image and the chip stack to wait for good hands and get paid off. Here are some things I was considering at the time: - How big is the field? The larger the field, the less effective an early double-up is going to be. This particular field was around 200 players, which meant an early double-up would definitely be helpful and worth taking a shot at. If it were >500 I might have played more conservatively. - How soft is the field? If you look around and your opponents all seem to know what they're doing, it makes an early double-up less helpful, and it decreases your odds of turning a second buy-in into a win. In this case, I had some soft opponents on my table, and a quick assessment of the room revealed a lot of people that seemed to be "tourists" and were therefore likely to be soft. - What is your table image? If you have a tight table image then pushing with marginal hands hoping to double-up is not very effective, because you will only be called by better hands. Not that it should stop you from trying, if the answers to all the other questions are aligned. In my case, I had been employing my "double-up or go bust" strategy by moving all-in preflop for a few rounds, so my image was probably a good one to get called at some point, not necessarily by better hands. - What is your chip stack? If you have 1.5-2x the starting stack, I think you should consider your work to be done and save yourself the extra buy-in. At the start of this hand, I had about my starting stack. - How much time is left before the re-entry period ends? The closer it gets to the end of the re-entry period, the more you should try to get all-in if the answers to the above questions are in your favor. In this case, there were 1.5 more rounds to go, which was plenty of time for me to try to pick up chips the "old fashioned" way (normal poker play), in order to save myself the extra buy-in. My scenario was unique because I had tried (unsuccessfully) to sucker people into calling huge raises on previous hands where I undoubtedly had the best of it (JJ, QQ, AK, etc) preflop. But my opponents didn't know what I had. So my image was that of a maniac :) With that in mind, I re-raised the initial raiser all-in when I looked down at TT. I thought I might get a call from AQ or AK, or a fold from AJ or KQ, and worst-case scenario, I could rebuy... she called and suddenly I was all-in with only an 18% chance to win! I wanted so badly to get lucky as it would've given me such a great table image! Result ====== The result doesn't matter, as the thought-process and strategy are much more important, but I ended up losing the hand and rebuying. However, I was still able to fall back on "Plan B" and turn my second buy-in into a win. :) If the tournament weren't a re-entry event, I would have played the early levels much, much more conservatively than I did. This is just one example of special considerations to make concerning buy-in rules. There are unlimited-rebuy tournaments, added-chips tournaments, multiple-day-1 tournaments, etc. and each requires a similar type of analysis to be sure you are maximizing your expected value whenever you sit down.


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