Meaning of the buy-in term

Buy-in in poker​Buy-in is a cash fee that is carried out in order to participate in a poker tournament. Each player pays the entry fee. This payment is used to create the prize pool, which is subsequently payable to the winner and people who hit the prize zone.

As a rule, buy-in amounts range from $1 (in some rooms 10 cents) to over $10 000 (for example, WSOP Main Event). Sometimes a buy-in might be the following: $50 + $5. This means that each player has to pay $55 to participate in the game. However, only $50 will go to the prize pool, and $5 is the rake.

If you’ve decided to participate in the tournament, you need to determine the amount of the buy-in. Use the tips to select the most appropriate buy-in amount:

  • How many players do you want to see in the tournament?? Big buy-ins reduce the number of participants. If you want to play in a large tournament for 1 000 people, then it is better to choose a smaller buy-in.
  • Define the amount you are willing to spend for the game.
  • If you are offered special dealers, free food and other profitable offers, then add another 10% to the buy-in amount (tips).

Quite often, players prefer a small buy-in to a big one. This choice may evidence the following:

  • Perhaps players have a small bankroll and they do not want to risk their money.
  • It can be assumed that they will play tight, therefore, you may steal pots from such players applying aggressive play.

Playing with a minimal buy-in, your main task is to minimize losses. It does not mean that you can often win with the minimal buy-in, but playing professional poker, you will still earn money despite all the bad beats and failures. With the maximal buy-in, you will be able to make money at a distance and increase profits.

Example

There are 10 participants at the poker table. Buy-in is equal to $10. You are in the big blind position having 3 ♥ 7 ♥. Surprisingly every player limps and you check.

The flop is 4 ♥ 5 ♥ 6 ♥.

You have a straight flush. The small blind and you check. Then the magic happens: one player makes a bet, the next participant raises, the third one - re-raises, and further all-in follows. Then you make a call and soon, players go all-in again. You admit your opponents may have a flush, a flush draw, a set, a straight, a straight draw, but your hand is the strongest one.

Now, you're glad your monster hand was paid, right? … Yes and no…

On the plus side, this is technically possible. The downside is you played in a tournament with the small buy-in and got only $4 from each player. Your total profit is $36.

Of course, such a course of events is unlikely, but imagine if you were playing in a tournament where the maximal buy-in - $100 and the minimal one - $50 and there would a similar situation occur.

An interesting fact is that most likely, you will rather lose more money with a minimal buy-in than with a maximal one. The reason is that $4 does not look like any bigger amount in certain situations.

Assume that your bankroll is equal to $50 and you are playing a $4 buy-in tournament. You fail and go on tilt. You can't believe that some loser called your KK having 2-9 and beat you on the river. You get enraged and pay another $4 for the game and after a few hands, someone beats you again. Now you are very angry, pay $4 once more, and then lose again to another participant, who plays similar garbage and “profits” from you. You are unable to win and continue tilting. Next, you make a re-buy and understand that your bankroll is $38 ($4 x 3). Now you blame yourself for such a big risk and want to "crack down" on those losers and get your money back. So, what are you up to? You pay a maximal buy-in of $10. You even say to yourself: “If they are able to win having the garbage, then I can do it as well!” In the end, you lose the buy-in.

It’s not about you’ve gone on tilt and risked a lot, but the fact is that $4 does not look like a big amount. Even if you’ve lost to the strongest hand and haven’t tilted, $4 may be misleading. You think it's only $4, but what will you say after depositing 5 or 6 buy-ins? Then it is no longer just $4.

Even if you look at your bankroll every time you pay a buy-in, you can still get under the influence of the thoughts “it's just $4.” $50 - $4 = $46. $46 - $4 = $42. $42 - $4 = $38. Even if you go down to $26, then $4 won't seem like a large sum.

If you calculate $50 - $10 = $40 by this principle, you will see a shift in your bankroll (BR). You may tell yourself that $10 is not such a big amount as compared with the BR. Therefore, in order to maximize profits, play with the maximal buy-in based on your BR. This will help you increase profits and save you money for the next game.

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