Evaluating PokerStars 3x Turbo Rebuy Tournaments
PokerStars has a great many so-called “3x-Turbo” rebuy tournaments running on a daily basis, and many more included as part of MicroMillions 6. These events can be good value if approached correctly, but you’ll want to know what you’re getting into before you try one.
What does the 3x actually mean?
The first thing to understand is that the “3x” refers not to the pace of the blind levels, which advance at a standard turbo clip, but rather to the length of the rebuy period. Whereas the normal Turbo Rebuys allow rebuys for 30 minutes, the period stretches on for 90 in the 3x-Turbos. The starting stack is likewise three times larger, but more importantly, the add-on is a massive 30,000 chips, ten times the starting stack.
The consequence of this format is that the tournament is really broken into three distinct phases, with a unique style of play for each.
Early Rebuy Period – Accumulation: For the first 40 minutes or so, the play resembles a standard rebuy, with plenty of wild play by the fish, and easy double-ups for the tighter players, provided they can avoid the bad beats.
Late Rebuy Period – Surival and Predation: Towards the end of the rebuy period, the blinds are so large that anyone forced to rebuy will inevitably be all-in again within a few hands. The huge add-on is an incentive to keep playing, but it becomes extremely expensive to get there for those who’ve busted at an inopportune moment. Meanwhile, the prize pool multiplies in size at their expense, and those with deep stacks feast on these nano-stack all-ins while enjoying wonderful pot odds.
Post-Rebuy Period – The Actual Tournament: Following the carnage of the end of the rebuy period, the add-on suddenly equalizes the playing field, benefitting the short stacks much more than those who were already deep. In some sense, the tournament only really begins at this point, with everything before having been a sort of bizarre satellite to determine the actual amount each player paid to buy in, and how many chips they were given to start.
A Realistic Look at Cost and Value
Casual players are often tempted into these tournaments, because they see a one-digit price tag and a five-figure guarantee, but these tournaments are misleading, and intentionally so.
An average player in these tournaments pays about 6x the buy-in for rebuys and the add-on, and about a third end up bailing out before escaping the rebuy period. From there, it’s still a long way to the money. This isn’t to say the tournaments are bad value, because the top spots do pay out hugely, but players should be aware that their actual cost is likely to be anywhere between three and ten times the sticker price, and that there’s a long road to walk just to reach the actual starting line.
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