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Bounty or Knockout poker tournaments are an exciting new format that can provide players with much action and excitement. In these tournaments, each player pays a bounty fee in addition to the buy-in awarded when they eliminate another player from the tournament. This unique structure has made knockout poker increasingly popular among experienced and recreational players.

However, playing in these tournaments requires different strategies than traditional multi-table tournaments due to the additional bounty element. To help improve your game and maximize your success, here are strategies you can consider before taking your seat at live or online poker tournaments.

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What are Knockout or Bounty Tournaments?

In multi-tablings with a knockout (KO) or bounty format, a portion of the buy-in goes into the bounty pool and a portion toward the regular prize pool.

You will also get the head bounty in a KO competition whenever a competitor is eliminated. You can find three different kinds of bounty poker tournaments, both online and live, namely:

  • Regular bounties: Bounties are funded by 20% of each buy-in.
  • Super knockouts: Prized money is divided equally between bounties and standard payouts.
  • Progressive knockouts (PKOs): The worth of your bounty increases with each player you eliminate.

Strategies When Playing in KO or Bounty Tournaments

Be Aware of Your Bounty

In knockout tournaments, it’s essential to be mindful of your bounty and the bounties of other players. Assessing whether taking a stand is worth the cost is essential. 

Knowing the value of your bounty can help you navigate your strategy in the game and may even allow you to manipulate the play of your opponents. Additionally, it gives you insight into the risks your opponent is willing to take or whether or not they’re likely to fold. 

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Avoid Risking Your Stacks on Early Stages of the Tournament

The rewards are usually small in the early stages of a KO tournament. The most important thing to remember is to make it to the later rounds, where most of the prize money is awarded. 

To increase your chances of success, avoid situations where the outcome is purely based on luck. Only risk a large portion of your stack when you are confident you have the upper hand. The main objective should be to reach the paid positions, which should be your top priority.

Be Aggressive When Needed

Being tight on the early stages of bounty or KO tournaments can work, but there are times when you have to play aggressively.

Surprisingly many players often play too tightly at the beginning. It’s amusing to see how many bounty MTT players guard their stacks carefully in the beginning, only to blow off and make bad plays as the blinds increase.

Playing too cautiously and losing ground to the pack will make you a target. Although you shouldn’t call off with any two cards in an attempt to take someone else’s bounty, you should at least slightly alter your pre-flop ranges.

When considering whether to call or not, you must also consider the additional equity.

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Middle Stages

As the bounty tournament goes on, the importance of knockouts in your decision-making will decrease. This is because, as the blinds increase and the average stack size increases, the value of a single knockout decreases. Therefore, it is better to focus on conserving your chips and strategically building your stack in favorable situations rather than collecting bounties.

It’s important to understand that winning blinds and antes won’t be as easy as regular MTTs when you have small stacks. This is because other players will likely want to play against you and see the flop if they have more chips than you do. As a result, you should expect to win fewer hands without revealing your cards, and you’ll need to adjust your poker tournament strategy accordingly. This may involve changing your approach to pushing all-in or folding, considering your opponents’ tendency to call with a wider range of cards.

Some players won’t risk calling you with broad ranges, for instance, if you have a little bounty, because it is not worth their wild. This allows you to be a little more aggressive in specific situations.

But, if you have a large bounty, you must play considerably more tightly because opponents will broaden their ranges to win an all-in against you by chance.

You should only consider calling all-in bets with wider ranges if you have more chips than your opponent. This is because when you have a larger stack, you have the potential to win the bounty. So, to capture the bounty, you need to have the player covered before considering a wider range. As a general rule, become engaged with the people you cover and stay away from the people who cover you.

Late Stages

In a knockout poker tournament, as you approach the final table, shifting your focus away from individual knockouts and instead prioritizing the Independent Chip Model (ICM) is crucial. This means you should strategize to position yourself for the ultimate victory.

As you get closer to the end of the tournament, the effect of a single knockout on your overall strategy decreases significantly. Instead, you should base your decisions on high-stakes factors like chip stack and the ICM.

If you have a large stack of chips in a poker game, be prepared to risk all of your chips to isolate yourself from players with small stacks and aim for a one-on-one tournament after the flop.

For example, if a player with a small stack places all their chips in the pot before your turn, it’s not wise to simply call their bet. Instead, if you have a strong hand, it’s better to go all in yourself and separate the small stack from other players. This approach will discourage other players from entering the pot.

If you have a small number of chips and have reached the later rounds of the game, adopt a highly conservative playing strategy. This means you should only play hands more likely to win and avoid trying to take pots from players with larger stacks, as this will probably be difficult. Rather than being aggressive, exercise patience and wait for stronger hands with a good chance of winning.


Adjust your strategy based on the number of chips in a Texas Holdem poker tournament. If you’re playing with a large stack, then it’s wise to aim for one-on-one games and be aggressive when necessary. On the other hand, if you have a small stack of chips, focus more on conserving your chips. Additionally, consider the bounty and stages you are in when deciding the move you need to use against your opponents.

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