Attention all normal, average, non-professional poker players out there. Rebuy events are a tournament of a different color and if you not ready for a world class rebuy event, you may be in for an experience that if nothing else might be "less than optimal." A rebuy event at the WSOP is not like a super-satellite with rebuys; it is also not like your local cardrooms Thursday night $60 NLHE w/ rebuys event.
In a WSOP rebuy event there is a professional strategy and there is the "other" strategy and they do not mix well. I wrote about this last week, but the message does not seem to have reached the masses, at least not the five or six amateurs who were caught in the professional rebuy squeeze at our feature table today. Rather than repeating the warnings and cautions once again, let's just follow the table for the first two levels (two hours) of todays $1,000 NLHE w/rebuys event (#34).
Upon entering the room today, I was in search of a "live" table, which means a table with at least one player who will implement the professional strategy of extrememly loose play during the rebuy. I was looking specifically for Daniel Negreanu, Gavin Smith and Mike Matusow. Fortunately, I found Mike and Gavin separated by only the spectator aisle, so I had two of the targets within my sight line. Gavin also had Mike O'Malley at his table and Mike knows how to play a rebuy event. On the first hand Gavin moves in with T7 "double-suited" and gets called by a QQ and Mike's AK. A river Ace gives Mike the triple up and the QQ player shakes his head and decides that his previously announced 'unlimited rebuy' policy might be unwise and he leaves the tournament. Over on Mike Matusow's table, Mike moves all-in with AK and gets "Big Slick" cracked by Pocket Aces.
The professional strategy is to get a lot of chips out on the table as 'loans' so they can win them back later. A normal tight table means no chips, no rebuys and no chance that you will be even an average stack after the two hour rebuy period. A normal, tight regular player also will get run down, so at the very least, you must adjust your play to look for double up opportunities. All pots are raised, most are raised all-in, and if they are not all-in then you have four or five or six callers. This is a very, very different game.
Within just a few hands it was clear that several of the amateur players were upset by this style of play. Of course, mentioning this outloud means instead of just a fish, you become a game fish for the pros. Did I mention this is a very different game?
By 12:15 Gavin had three rebuys, Mike Matusow had 6 and Mike O'Malley with his first triple up is cruising. To the frustrated amateurs, Gavin chortles:
"These events are the most fun."
A few hands later, Mike O'Malley is all-in (early triple ups may not last) and with his chips, he pushes a $1,000 casino chip into the pot and calls for a rebuy! This would be the early concession bet. Moments later, Mike Matusow is all-in again and has his AK cracked again, this time by KJ. Next hand Gavin moves in for the umptenth time and gets two callers with 55 and TT, Gavin tosses over J6s, flops the flush and sends two stunned amateurs to the rail. The remaining three non-pros wonder if they shouldn't pool their chips and make a stand with one hand.
At 12:45 Gavin has 8 rebuys Mike Matusow has 7 but down at the far end of the room, Daniel Negreanu is leading the pack with 13. Michael Gracz is moved onto the O'Malley/Smith table and it is clear where the action will be for the remainder of this rebuy period. M. Gracz complains that his first table was dead and all the chips were locked up with no rebuys. This will not be the case at this new table. Moments later Victor Ramdin appears in the other empty seat and the professionals rejoice and the amateurs groan. Joe Bartoli, one table away, curses his luck "missing by one table the perfect rebuy seat."
This is exactly where the two rebuy strategies diverge. All of the pros would pay to sit at the wild, aggressive table and all of the amateurs want to trade their seats for a quiet, dark, rock table in the corner of the room. Now one of those amateurs, at the feature table, has taken his initial stack up to 5K and announced he is on post and fold; but just a few hands later he limps with an AQ and when the flop is A7K he bets out and gets called by Michael Gracz; the turn is a 3, bet and call; the river an 8, bet, raise, all-in and call. Michael turns over the pocket 8s and the amateur loses a chunk of his stack. Post & fold was a good idea but so was moving all-in on the flop or the turn of this hand. Pot size bets mean absolutely nothing here.
Another new player is moved to the table and after a few hands he asks: "I thought we were playing poker today!"
"Not for the first two hours, Sir" Gavin laughs.
Victor loses his stack and makes a rebuy but is $1,000 short, he asks Gavin for a $1K chip and it gets tossed down the table. After the next hand, Victor has Mike O'Malley throw Gavin the $1K and another $4K to Victor. Did Mike owe Victor $5K? Is Victor now into Mike for $5K?
"How do they ever keep track?" asks Poker News writer.
I see Daniel Negreanu jumping up and down and doing a little dance at the far end of the room, when I get there Daniel is moving into record territory with 29 rebuys! That was not a dance for joy. Back at the 'feature table' we have lost 8 players and seated in one of those empty seats is Men "The Master" Nguyen. With only 775 in chips, Men says he is ready to rebuy but on his first hand with two all-ins in front of him, he pushes with 65h and triples up with a pair of sixes.
Moments later the 5K stack amateur gets up to take a call and Gavin and both Michaels shout: "Sit your ass down, we want those chips back, the clock is running." When Mike Matusow stops by to check on the chaos and report his 10th rebuy, our amateur uses the distraction to slip away for about ten minutes. When he comes back, the players demand the floor tie him to his chair.
Victor Ramdin moves all-in on a river 4 to a 567K board, the newest addtion to the table folds his Aces face up and Victor shows T2o. As if as one the pros laugh:
"Its a rebuy event!"
"Don't try that lame move on us, Victor."
On the next hand the same player plays AK to a A85 board and calls down Victor who flushes on the river. Its an unfair advantage the professionals have. Not just the skill but the fuel. You must have the cash to rebuy and rebuy and rebuy and you must have the skill to pull the trigger and get those chips on the table. With forty minutes to go in the rebuy period, Michael Gracz has built a big stack, he just recedes into his chair and avoids those big stack-builder & stack-cracker pots, he has what he needs to play the real event that starts after the rebuy period is over.
Moments before the rebuy is over, Daniel Negreanu gets moved to an adjoining table. He tells us that a player at this table won 26 straight hands, with Daniel all-in for most of them. That deck-struck player now has over 40K in his chipstack. Daniel has 9900 at the break and his total for this rebuy event. 1 buy-in + 46 rebuys + 2 addons = $49,000. Some are calling it the Daniel Negreanu Overly Rebuy Event.
Ed Note: Playing at Bodog will make you feel more like a man (or a woman), trust us.