How to Win Bounty Tournaments
Bounty tournaments are exactly like normal poker tournaments, except each player has a bounty on his/her head. This adds an entirely new element to the tournament, because not only do you get rewarded for surviving, but you also are rewarded for ending other players' tournament lives.
When playing bounty tournaments (also called "knockout tournaments"), players have two choices of strategy: the first choice is to play your normal poker tournament strategy and ignore the bounties, and the other choice is to adjust to the tournament and focus on knocking other players out.
Bounty Tournament Strategy
By understanding the differences between regular and bounty tournaments, you can better understand the correct strategy for knock out tournaments. First of all, the players at the bounty tables will play loose, unlike the type of play you would find at regular style tournaments. Bounty players are playing for the fun of knocking other players out more so than they are practicing good poker skills.
Players at these tables typically possess a lower degree of experience and knowledge of poker strategy in general. They place erratic all-in bets and go to showdowns with less than average hands, especially early in the tournament.
As a player in a bounty tournament, you can easily take advantage of this. For example, when you have a short stack, you can make bigger bets and get all in more often with big hands, because there is a greater chance that you'll get called. Replace value bets with over bets, because other players will take a shot to knock you out.
Another difference you can expect to find is that in normal tournament play, players check down a hand often when a small-stacked player is all-in, in order to increase the chances of eliminating that player. On the other hand, in bounty tournaments, the bounty illuminates this play and betting a dry side-pot is more typical. If you're a short stack, avoid all-in bluffs and make sure to get all-in with a solid hand, because it is likely your opponents won't have much and may be bluffing at the side pot.
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When small stack players enter the action or the blinds, there will suddenly be many players going after that bounty, which will result in a series of calls or raises by players who do not have the best hands. If you can isolate the small stack or catch a medium stack isolating with a bad hand, you can make a profitable play. Also, don't be this small stacked player - they will undoubtedly be after you next!
You'll also have to play aggressively enough to stay above the majority of chip stacks around the table. When big hands come up, keeping above the chip average will increase your chance of cashing in on a bounty, rather than losing it to another player who has just a few more chips than you.
Like all tournaments, when playing a bounty tournament, your sights should be set on making it to the final table. Knockout tournaments are structured so that 80% of all players' fees go into the standard prize pool. Therefore, the big money is at the final table and reaching this point should be your primary focus.