Knockout Bounty tournaments are a rapidly growing form of MTT where players get bonus money for eliminating other players.
These tournaments often run on the following format:
- Part of your buy-in goes towards the prize pool
- The remainder of your buy-in goes towards a bounty on your head
- Players collect the entire bounty on your head when they successfully stack you
The largest bounty I’ve seen is worth half a buy-in, with roughly 25% of a buy-in as a bounty being the usual. Thus, remember that most of the money is still earned by making it to the final table.
Because of the bounty, things get real wild real quick. The golden rule of Bounty Tournaments is:
These tournaments attract a ton of recreational players, and recreational players try way too hard to pick up bounties.
With that in mind, I’ll teach 3 strategies that’ll boost your winrate in these tourneys and help you get a leg up on the recreational players playing them.
Strategy 1: Never bluff against someone who has you covered
Remember the golden rule: most players are trying way too hard to pick up bounties.
These games are naturally much looser than standard MTTs. Players often call and shove very weak in hopes of taking someone else’s bounty.
A small stack is like a bleeding fish in a tank of sharks. In a knockout bounty, people crowd around a small stack like hungry animals. They’ll flat your raises and call your shoves wide to try and get your bounty.
This means that if you are a small stack:
- People won’t respect your steals
- People won’t respect your c-bets
- People won’t respect your shoves
Here’s an example: you try to steal with a good opening hand from BTN. Both SB and BB, big stacks, will tend to call and bust you on the flop for your last 900 chips.
In a vacuum, shoving here is not a bad play. You have 2 overcards and a backdoor straight draw, and with at least 30% equity and a bit of fold equity this should be a profitable shove.
The important thing to learn from this example is that BB will call you wide, often any pair better than 55 or 66. You’d be better off looking for a flopped top pair and shoving for value.
How should we adapt as a small stack, then?
- Steal from other small stacks who don’t have you covered
- Tighten up, play strong hands and shove with top pair or better for value against people hunting your bounty
- Don’t let yourself become a small stack through stupid early tournament plays
Strategy 2: Play for the final table, Bounties are a bonus
Remember the last tip – everyone else is trying way too hard to get a bounty. They often risk their shot at a deep run for a simple bounty. For this reason, you see lots of people busting early. If you play a strong, disciplined game, you can often reach the money without winning too many big pots.
If you play smart MTT strategy and make a deep run, you will eliminate players. You get the bounties anyway, but this way you don’t risk your shot at making the final table recklessly.
Here are the advantages of making it to the bubble with a healthy stack:
- You have good fold equity with your bets and steals, so:
- You can steal relentlessly by threatening to bust the smaller stacks, giving yourself even better in the money position. With your bigger stack:
- You cover more players, thus naturally pick up more bounties.
It’s a win-win-win. Don’t waste your stack early for a shot at a bounty, when making the final table is worth 15 bounties. You’ll pick up bounties along the way anyway
Finally, once you get to the final table, remember that first place is worth way more than any bounty. Earlier in the tournament, a bounty is worth way more relative to your expected win for the tournament. Later in the tournament, the difference between 7th and 6th place might be 10 bounties worth of money. Thus, it’s not worth throwing away chip leads for risky bounties.
Play close to a standard MTT game at the final table.
Strategy 3: Smart aggression to grind yourself to a big stack
In any tournament, the big stack’s job is to use fold equity and the threat of elimination to steal his way to a massive stack in the bubble. Knockout tournaments aren’t ANY different. The goal is still to steal your way to a big stack, and stack other players when your range is strong.
You should be bullying players with smaller stacks than you, opening the button relentlessly. Use late position steals and resteals to grind up your stack.
Similarly, wait for strong value hands then value bet relentlessly. As we discussed, people don’t fold enough and bigstacks are likely to chase bounties against you.
Finally, look for good opportunities like squeezes to add a huge chunk to your stack. Here’s a common scenario you see all the time:
A small stack with a roughly 1.2k stack opens to 2.5x. 3 players with medium stacks flat, trying to flop something and stack him for the bounty. You wake up with AJs, faced with a decision to flat or raise.
Raising is clearly superior as a squeeze. Why?
- Players 7, 8 and 9 are likely to have weaker, or speculative hands as they would have raised themselves to get all-in with the fish. They’re likely to fold, but even if they shove over you aren’t risking even half of your stack.
- Player 6 can either get all-in against you for 10% of your stack, or fold. You either take down 5bb for free, or get a cheap shot at a knockout bounty.
Thus, you have a high fold equity squeeze, with a good preflop equity hand, good blockers to AA, JJ, AK and AQ, and 4 chances to get allin for a bounty.
Where to find Knockout Bounty Tournaments?
Several of our partners offer knockout bounty MTTs. Our top picks include:
888Poker offers a very soft playing field and an excellent assortment of knockout bounties. This is our top pick for good knockout bounty MTTs.
Our iPoker.com partners offer great rakeback value and access to Knockout Bounty MTTs as well. Check out our partners: