We all love a Bounty, don’t we? We’re not talking 80’s retro chocolate bar, but a poker tournament where there is a price on the head of every player in addition to the prize-pool! Bounty tournaments add an element of danger to every hand (even all-in pre-flop with aces) and players behave very differently in bounty tournaments than they might usually. But what can you do to make sure you’re headhunting like The Walking Dead’s casting director? We take a look.
What’s it Worth?
The value of your own bounty (indeed, any bounty) should be something that you routinely convert in your mind to a stack of chips. This will give you the best chance of winning poker tournaments such as bounty or elimination knockouts. Look at how much of the entry goes to the bounty and then divide your starting stack into chips. For example, if you start with 3,000 chips and are sitting on the dealer button and a player who shoves from mid-position, should the bounty be 20% of your entry, then you should add 600 chips to the value of the pot and re-evaluate your decision accordingly.
Knowing your pot odds is a crucial part of poker, but even more so in bounty tournaments. Later in the poker tournament, you’ll hopefully be tackling ever more crucial all-ins, not in terms of bounties but money and final table bubble, etc. While bounties retain some importance, this should naturally play less of a factor in your decision the later it happens in the proceedings. By the time you reach the final table, an opponent’s bounty should hardly be a prevalent thought.
Know the Worth of Knowledge
Your own worth as a value to your opponents should they win your chips is the mirror of the above argument, but knowledge of your worth in a poker tournament is important anyway because of the confidence it should give you to play your favoured tournaments. Knowledge of how to excel in the bounty format should hopefully give you an edge to begin with. How you rate yourself before play begins may sound unimportant once the cards are being dealt, but it actually plays a major part in deciding the big money at the end of tournaments. Familiarise yourself with bounty tournament by watching a couple – it’s free training! – before you play, and you can rightly assume that your stack is worth more than your opponents before the actions kicks off.
Watch Out for Bounty-Hunters
Bounties can look juicier than a medium rare steak in knockout tournament, so be wary of others and their attempts to stack you. Play in all-in situations can change dramatically from what you’re used to, and although we’ve outlined how bounties affect pot odds above, the same applies to the attractive nature of hoovering up your stack should you decide to risk it. Big stacks can often go on hunting sprees where they enter all-ins simply to chance their arm of a knockout because they’re stacked up, so adjust your thinking to how opponents play their stack until after you’ve seen them below the average as well as chipped up. They might be very different to compare.
Be Careful when Short-Stacked
There’ll probably come a point in most tournaments when you find yourself under pressure to survive due to the relative size of your stack. In a regular poker tournament, you’d simply pull up the information you store in your head (or notes if you’re a beginner) about push/fold ranges. But in bounty tournaments, you want to be looking into what players call and adjusting those ranges of yours all the time. As the value of a bounty in relative terms decreases over the period of the poker tournament, players may not adjust with it, offering you some juicy positions to hopefully enter an all-in and call confrontation with dominating or pair-over-pair situations. However, earlier in the action, the opposite will ring true. Make sure you’re going to be favourite to win those early skirmishes.
Bounty Knockouts are a huge amount of fun, with cash on the line every time a player is all-in and at risk, so we think you’ll enjoy the ones you’ll find in the partypoker lobby, especially boosted guarantee in the Power Series poker tournament. You should definitely be on the lookout for some crazy calls and bold bluffs, though!
Just like you may find yourself, players experiencing their first bounty tournament can ignore mathematics, push for any value they identify and play a little more fearlessly than normal just because they could win their buy-in back through bounties before the money bubble. This might also mean your three-bets or c-bets don’t get the respect they might in a standard tournament format. Understand that, adjust to it…and forgive it if you’re bad beat from the tournament and try again! Over time, optimal play in bounty tournaments can be very rewarding!
Every Bounty for Themselves!
With an all-in bounty called by two or more players, it is important to remember that if you’re one of those players, you can’t be casual about the value of your hand. Multi-way all-in calls in standard tournaments can frequently lead to the other players involved checking the board down to see if they knock out the player. It may be for a small amount of chips and therefore not vital, a mere bonus to their bigger stack. However, a bounty being in play effectively makes the call of an all-in the beginning of what can be a torrid scrap for that cash prize. The play for the side-pot will typically be more aggressive and it’s unlikely that you’ll get to check down with your rag-ace to scoop a pot very often!
What can happen often in bounty tournament (and this is why you registered before play began) is that late registering players can turn up and hope to ‘spin’ their micro-stack into a playable stack by banking on being called lighter than usual. They can often get multiple calls, as they are like an instant treat to big stacks looking to hoover up bounties like oh-so-many miniature Bounty bars at Christmas, mmm, Bounties. Ahem.
Your tactic should be to look for opportunities to squeeze opponents off these confrontation once they’ve already called the micro-stack, maximising your chances at winning a big pot, not just in bounty value, but chips.
Battle the Average
Is there anything worse in a bounty tourney than getting it all-in good and when you win the hand, seeing that your opponent has lost 95% of their stack to you…only before you’re dealt 9-2 off-suit in the next deal. You’ve done all the hard work for another opponent to hoover up a bounty!
So how do you avoid this situation? Make sure that you try as hard as you can to be ahead of the average chips. This will give you the best chance of being on the right side of winning a bounty or not when the time comes to get busting those shorties!
Bounties Mean Prizes…But the Pool Still Matters
Most bounty tournaments will put aside between 15-30% of the prize-pool for bounties, so while you should definitely amend your style to become optimal within the format, you should always have your eye on the biggest prizes – for winning the tournament or finishing in the final few places.
Don’t get side-tracked by the bounties on offer of way your opponents play. Playing your own game in poker has always mattered, but rarely is it so crucial to your chances of winning than in distracting formats, and bounty tournaments can be exactly that.
Best of luck in bounty tournaments, and let us know about your successes after you’ve taken one down!
Use These Tips During Powerfest
There are several bounty tournaments on the $5 million guaranteed Powerfest schedule so why not buy into one, put these tips to the test, and see if you can win yourself a few bounties and an entry to the Tournament of Champions?