March 14, 2024

Tips to Improve Your Bounty Tournament Game

Bounty tournaments are on the way up- especially in the form of online progressive knockout events and mystery bounty events in live settings.

The bounty format has plenty of appeal, with the long-term rewards of the tournament paytable supplemented by the short-term reward of knocking another player out and claiming the cash bounty on their head.

However, bounty tournaments require different skills and strategies to freeze out tournaments. If you want to start working on your bounty tournament strategy, here are some quick tips to improve your bounty tournament game.

Tip #1: Adjust Your ICM Thinking For All Ins

In a cash game, the value of an all-in is determined by the pot odds determined by the equity of your range versus your opponent’s range, the size of the pot, and the size of the stacks involved.

However, in tournament poker, the value of your all-in is determined by a more complicated assessment of how winning or losing will affect your range of likely cashing positions. This is usually estimated using something called an independent chip model, which looks at how many players are left and what the payout table looks like.

The calculation falls between a pure ICM calculation and pure pot odds in a bounty tournament. At times when the ICM factor is low (for example, early on in the tournament), an all-in’s value might be a rounding error away from pot odds.

When the pay jumps are close and are much bigger than the bounty value, something closer to ICM will prevail, but not to the extent it would in a freezeout.

Tip #2: Short Stacks Play Wider When Playing For Value

When you’re shorter than your opponent, then your bounty comes into play, sweetening the pot every time you’re all in. As a result, players will call wider than usual. That means you can shove wider, but you should still ensure you’re shoving for value.

You’ll find a lot of players calling wider than usual. If you’d usually shove A♠ 10♠ or better in a spot, consider expanding that to include a few more middling suited-aces. You’re probably still ahead.

Tip #3: But Tighter When Bluffing

The corollary to playing wider for value is playing much tighter when bluffing.

Because you’re much more likely to be called when you play, picking hands with showdown value is a good idea. This might mean dropping a lot of playable suited-connectors but widening your range of AXXX-, KXXX-, and pocket pair-type hands.

You should shove a lot more, aiming to double up and if you do, you’ll hopefully find yourself switching to a big stack strategy in no time.

Tip #4: Big Stacks Should Try To Play For Bounties

If you have most players covered, you should consider shoving more often. Unlike short stacks, where shoving is a good way to win chips, big stacks are looking to win bounties.

The extra value of winning an all-in when you cover your opponent means that a shove becomes the correct move in some spots where a re-raise would normally be standard.

In a typical tournament, small ball poker can work wonders, but in bounty tournaments, aggression pays.

Tip #5: Playing Near And In The Money

In a freezeout tourney, ICM is at its most important near the money or nearing a big pay jump. In bounty tournaments, as much as half the value of the tournament is in the form of bounties, greatly reducing the impact of ICM.

For example, in a freezeout, you should sometimes pass up an otherwise chip-profitable all-in call on the bubble. Especially if it risks making you too short-stacked to survive deep into the money. In a bounty tournament, getting that bounty may well compensate for the ICM risk, and your call becomes not just chip-profitable but also dollar-profitable.

This is especially true in progressive knock-outs, where winning the tournament earns you your own (potentially huge) bounty, adding the incentive to play to win.

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