AngusD switched from pro chess to poker two decades ago and has been professionally involved in the game on numerous levels since the very beginning of online poker, including playing as a poker ambassador both online and at major festivals around the globe. He has written much about the game over the years, and brings to YPD a wealth of experience in all aspects of the poker industry. Meanwhile, his many years on the pro chess circuit (he’s an International Master and prolific author) afford him an interesting perspective on the psychology of poker.

· Published 29.03.2021 · last updated 29.03.2021

Not only are Bounty tournaments all the rage nowadays, but it looks like this exciting format is going to retain its popularity and be a future favourite of the online poker masses.

The variant continues to evolve, to the point that simply winning a fixed bounty for eliminating a player could already be described as a somewhat old-fashioned version of the format. The much more thrilling way of doing things is the so-called Progressive Knockout tournament. Here, each player has a bounty prize on their virtual head, with the tweaked mechanics of the format meaning that when someone is knocked out, half of the amount is rewarded to the player who eliminated them while other half is added to that player’s bounty. In this way, the stakes continue to increase as a tournament progresses, with each successive elimination bumping up the successful player’s bounty.

Not surprisingly, the dynamics of a Progressive Knockout tournament are quite different from a standard one, with a distinct characteristic being that we need to factor in the additional value a pot offers in the shape of the bounties available. Moreover, these bounties can grow big enough to justify gunning for them when opportunities present themselves rather than avoid taking chances in an effort to build a stack.

It might seem counter-intuitive, but ignoring chances to pick up bounties by instead adopting a safety first, tight approach is, in fact, a serious mistake. It’s imperative that we speculate to accumulate in order to have other players covered – there’s no point spending time and money on Progressive KOs if we’re not prepared to do what’s necessary to put ourselves in a position in which we can actually make the most of the format.

Equity changes

As well as simply needing enough chips with which to eliminate opponents and in turn get our hands on that juicy cash, we also have to factor in how the presence of bounties on every player’s head impacts on equity. For example, if we’re in the Big Blind and it’s been folded round to the Small Blind, who shoves, and who we have covered by a few chips, then the equity in the middle increases thanks to the added value of the bounty we’d win by winning the all-in. Bounties is the name of the game here, so when such opportunities arise we should be calling with a considerably wider range than would usually be the case.

Obviously, we can’t be calling every all-in regardless of both our hand and the situation, but it’s important to get into the right proactive frame of mind. And the bigger the bounty, the more inclined we should be to hunt it down. However, this might mean being one of a number of players trying their luck when, for instance, a short stack with a massive bounty goes all-in. With a chance of picking up a bounty that’s bigger than some of the main finishing position prizes, players are going to be putting their stacks on the line with any two cards.

This is an important feature of the Knockout format, and can impact on our fortunes on more than one level. First, we need to remember that, should we call a big bounty’s all-in with more players to act, we should be prepared for a family pot that could well feature random hands. Consequently, even if we’re sticking to a pretty strong range, shoving can be a mixed bag in terms of our hand being vulnerable but at the same there being a chance to emerge victorious with both a big stack and multiple bounties bagged.

Meanwhile, the implications of our own bounty must be considered, as our shoving could lead us to be hunted down by anyone whose stacks cover ours. It’s surprising how much of an incentive just a single bounty can be in inducing players to call an all-in, so it’s tantamount to a given that if we shove once our bounty has become conspicuously big, there’ll be at least one caller, and possibly a bunch of them. Again, the same gamblers might (often justifiably) throw their chips into the middle with anything, so some caution is called for if we still have a choice about our actions.

Moreover, our shoving range should get tighter as our bounty gets bigger. An appreciation of how different kinds of hands perform in multi-way pots is very useful – small pocket pairs, for instance, are going to deliver much less than more versatile hands such as JTs or KTo.


Not surprisingly, and particularly with Progressive Knockouts, the play in a Bounty tournament revolves  a great deal around the bounties themselves. We should be looking for reasons to hunt them down by taking shots in spots that tick enough boxes, as well as striving to accumulate enough chips to increase the likelihood of such opportunities presenting themselves. Frankly, if this sounds illogical or ‘risky’, then the Knockout format isn’t for you. Meanwhile, it’s important to be conscious of the impact our own bounty can have on other players’ decisions/strategy.

Have fun!

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