The important differences between a Rebuy and a Re-entry

The terms Rebuy and Re-entry are often used interchangeably to refer to how a player can continue to take part in a poker game after losing all their chips. In both cases the player pays a fee, receives another stack of chips, and continues playing.

However, these terms refer to two quite different ways in which a player is able to buy back into a game. These differences usually don’t matter for small single-table games, but they can become important for larger multi-table tournaments.

Rebuy

A rebuy is where a player, who has just lost all their chips, is immediately given the option to buy another stack of chips and continue playing at the same table without having to leave their seat.

The order of play, including the movement of the dealer button and especially the posting of the small and big blinds, is not affected.

For the purposes of tracking the state of the game, a player who rebuys does not count as either a knockout or a new player entry. They’re counted only as an additional rebuy.

Re-entry

A re-entry is where a player, who has just lost all their chips, leaves the table they were playing at and pays to enter the tournament again as if they were joining the tournament as a new player. They receive a full starting stack of chips and are randomly allocated another seat.

Because in this case the knocked-out player leaves their seat, the order of play and possibly the amount of blinds posted at the table they left could be affected if the position of the newly-vacant seat receives the dealer button or would have been required to post a blind on the next hand dealt.

For the purposes of tracking the state of the game, a player who re-enters firstly counts as a knockout and then, after buying back in, counts as a new player entry.

The Differences

From a player’s point of view, the difference is simply whether they can continue playing in the same seat (a rebuy) or have to move to another table (a re-entry).

From the tournament host’s point of view, there are a few differences to consider concerning money, chips, and keeping a tally of player entries and rebuys:

  • The fee required for a rebuy could be lower than the initial entry fee.

The entry fee to a tournament might comprise an amount that goes towards the prize pool plus an additional “house fee” taken by the organisers to cover the expense of running the tournament. The cost of a rebuy could omit the “house fee”, with all of the rebuy fee going towards the prize pool.

(Do note that in most countries the taking of such a house fee, or “rake”, is usually illegal outside of licensed gaming venues such as casinos.)

  • Another case where the rebuy cost could be lower than the initial entry fee is where the player receives fewer chips for a rebuy.

This could be an option where players might be reluctant to pay the full cost of another entry and, to encourage players to stay in the game, the host offers a rebuy of, for instance, half the starting chip stack for half the original entry fee. This gives a player a cheaper way to keep playing, while also increasing the prize pool.

Rebuys and Re-entries During a Game

Depending on the structure of your game, differentiating between rebuys and re-entries could be essential to accurately tracking the current state of the game, such as the current number of players and the total prize pool.

If you are using the Blinds Are Up! poker timer to track your players and prizes, be sure to use the correct buttons on the Run Tournament screen as follows:

+ Player for each new player.
– Player and then + Player when a player gets knocked-out and re-enters.
+ Rebuy when a player simply rebuys.