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I’ve long been a big fan of the Bounty Hunters at partypoker for lots of reasons, but perhaps most notably because there is no rake on the bounty element. It essentially makes them half the rake of their Vanilla MTT equivalent, which makes them automatically more profitable than at sites that charge the standard rake.

There are a lot of things about PKOs that make them profitable – regs hate them, recreational players love them and not many people study the right way to play them. There are so many unknowns in PKOs that Dara O’Kearney and I have just written the first-ever book on them – PKO Poker Strategy.

Today I wanted to highlight one of many leaks otherwise good players have in PKO tournaments, and that is what to do when you cannot win a bounty. Most players instinctually know they can call wider when they can win a bounty, but they don’t adjust well when they are the bounty everyone is going for.

The gut instinct most players have is that nobody will fold to them, so they should play really tight. This is half true, you should not expect anybody to fold when you are short and/or you have a big bounty on your head. However, that does not mean you should be playing tighter, you just need to change your ranges.

If nobody is folding, then instead of trying to ‘bluff’ should be playing for thin value. High card hands go up in value, whereas small pairs and speculative hands like 67s go down in value. A hand like K2o actually gets stronger when you are covered in a PKO because there is really good chance that you will get looked up by a hand like JTo.

Here is an example from our book, which is what a short stack Small Blind should do against the Button open of a bigger stack. We compared the same spot early in a normal MTT to early in a PKO:

Small Blind Reshoving Range

Format Range
Early MTT 33.6% 22+ Ax K3s+ K8o+ Q8s+ QTo+ J8s+ JTo+ T8s+ 98s
Early PKO 40.4% 22+ Ax K2s+ K5o+ Q5s+ Q8o+ J8s+ J9o+ T8s+ 98s

As you can see, the range is actually wider, because we expect the Button to call with 100% of the hands they open with, so any hand with a hint of showdown value plays well against a wide bet/call range. Suited hands do well too, in part because we need them for if the Big Blind gets involved, we need a hand that can make a flush to win three-way.

This works post flop too. It is not uncommon, for example, to check-raise all-in with KQo on a T-9-X board and get called by 78o for a draw we beat. Even better if we get called by JQo, a hand which on paper is a better draw, but which we dominate and block their draw.

The name of the game is change your range to hands that don’t need to improve against a wide (sometimes any two). Indeed, before you even consider buying a book like ours, it is useful to play around with an equity calculator to see what hands play well against a super wide calling range.

If you hear a player complaining because people won’t fold against them, they have their logic flawed. It’s a great thing when people won’t fold, it means you can value town them with a really wide range. One of the biggest adjustments you can make right now in PKOs is changing your value range when you are the player who is covered.

Barry Carter is the editor of and the author of PKO Poker Strategy, the first book written about progressive knockout tournaments.

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