Holding a bounty in play in a knockout tournament at 888poker
Almost all bounty tournaments played in the online poker world today are “progressive knockouts“, where the value of the bounty is not fixed but can increase and thus remain relevant throughout the tournament. They differ from the Mystery Bounty Tournaments at 888poker by keeping these mysterious bounties a secret until someone wins one.
Because of this factor, in these events we sometimes want to modify our play in multi-way pots to keep a player we’re covering, rather than isolating a player who’s covering us. That said, when we have a hand that can go either way, we almost certainly want to avoid knocking out a covered player – a strategy that may conflict with what we do in non-bounty tournaments or cash games would prefer.
Here is an example of an actual hand being played in a $55 buy-in PKO Rumble at 888poker, which illustrates how bounties can influence strategic decisions.
The decision not to squeeze
We play this hand from the perspective of the big blind, who has a stack of 40 big blinds and was dealt . It’s the middle stage of the tournament – pre-money, when the “normal” prize pool is split, but when bounties are involved, as they always are.
A player of average skill opens the pot for 2.5x BB from under the gun, gets called in middle position by the weakest player at the table who has 30 BBs, and the button also calls. The small blind gets out of the way and it benefits us in the big blind. Both the initial raiser and the button cover our stack.
In this situation, the opener has the strongest range, the caller in middle position has the second strongest, and the button has the weakest. If we decide to 3bet, we’ll be pushing those weak ranges out to play our hand against the strongest. Worse, we may offer our bounty of the strongest range and drive away the player we’re covering.
Therefore, while squeezing may be tempting here in a freezeout, it is not advisable in a knockout tournament with significantly high bounties. We call.
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The flop is coming giving us the nut flush draw.
We hit this board very hard, but we have yet to decide which course of action will bring us the most money. A lead could create a raise from the first raiser’s strongest hands, which would eliminate our target from the pot. We would also have to play against a strong range that covers us.
We have equity that cannot be dominated, but on the other hand, we do best at dominating weaker ranges that involve dominated draws. Aside from the UTG player who opened preflop, our weak middle position player (who we cover and has a weaker range) and the button (who has the weakest range of the three) can each have something J-9, QJAnd 9-7 station wagons and 6-5 Straight draws that we dominate, as well as inferior flush draws. So we check.
The raiser’s initial continuation bets – a quarter of the pot. The recreational player calls and the button folds.
Sometimes calling with multiple players behind is strong. All other things being equal, it should be. But this doesn’t seem like such a situation. Our recreational target would probably have raised a pair or two here. make a big combination , would probably also increase. So his hand seems pretty weak. He draws or has a made hand of little power, something like T-9 or 5-5 or A-8.
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Meanwhile, the first raiser made a continuation bet into three people, but he also only bet a quarter of the pot. A betting range that required protection would probably have bet larger, but nonetheless our preflop logic remains the same – if we raise now, we put undue pressure on the player we’re covering to play against a stronger range just for chips (and no bounty) to play.
If the player stays in the middle position in the pot, our efforts will be overwhelmed by their bounty. If he folds, we’re playing for chips at risk of being eliminated and locking ourselves out of the prize pool. In other words, we have a little ICM pressure while our cover opponent gets a bonus to play for all of our chips. The differences here are major, not subtle.
Our final decision
While it’s tempting to raise the flop, we call again with our nut flush draw. We assume that we will never be knocked out of the pot on the turn. We can turn a pair, a straight draw, and of course the nuts. And indeed, the turn card is the to give us our flush.
We check again. The initial raiser is now double-barreling for two-thirds of the pot, a very sizeable bet. The recreational player calls the bet for about 40 percent of his stack.
At this point we have no choice but to go all-in. As soon as we do that, we actually get called in both spots. The first raiser has for a set of four. The recreational player has , after calling with a jack-high flush draw and an open-ended straight draw, both draw dead. After River we earned both a bounty and a nearly triple-up.
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The strategy of the UTG player
It is interesting to consider whether the early position player should bet on the turn. At first glance, this may seem ambitious. But on the flip side, if he ever somehow landed behind a better set, he probably would have been raised on the turn.
So if he bets his hand on the turn, he gets value from parts of his opponent’s ranges, such as J-9. But remember, he also covers both players who are still in the pot. So he’ll always be priced in to fold and try to hit his 10-outers to fill up against a straight or flush.
Since better sets aren’t within reach of either opponent, he can bet knowing he’s always live when he’s behind. It might not be the best spot – it’s certainly not a great spot – but if you hit 20 percent equity at worst, And With a bounty or two in play, it’s hard to go wrong.
In any case, it’s clear how the prospect of bounties – especially the larger ones that occur in the mid and late stages of progressive KOs – should be factored in, especially with multi-way hands like this one.
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