In bounty tournaments a portion of each players buy-in goes to the prize pool, with the remaining amount becoming a bounty on the players head. When a player goes broke, the player that took them out wins their bounty. For example if you are playing in a $10 Poker Nordica bounty tournament where 50% of the buy-in becomes each player’s bounty, you would win $5 for each player you took out of the tournament.
The bounty structure varies slightly from room to room. For instance, Merge network poker rooms such as Poker Nordica have half of your buy-in become your bounty, whereas at CakePoker only a third of the buy-in amount becomes a bounty. PKR’s terminator bounty tournaments are even more complex with half of each players buy-in becoming their bounty, but each time you knock a player out you only win 80% of their bounty, with the remaining 20% being added to your bounty amount. This variation makes the bounties you earn later in the tournament worth more than the ones you win early on. Regardless what structure of bounty tournament you are playing there are a few adjustments you should make to your game to increase your bounty tournament success.
1. Isolate the super short stacks with monster hands
When you notice a player’s stack dwindling on the brink of extinction you should be licking your lips and ready to pounce. There are often times in the game a player will double through a slightly larger stack leaving someone with only a few chips left and his bounty up for grabs. If you manage to get dealt a monster hand when the super short stack player is having to put in his last few chips you should make an effort to isolate him and keep everyone else out of the pot. You don’t want other players to get a cheap look at the flop and steal the short stacks bounty and possibly a good chunk of your chips.
2. Try to see the flop against super short stacks
If a player’s chip count is getting very low and you know he has to make a move soon it’s a good idea to see a lot of flops with him. Chances are he will be moving in if he catches anything on the flop and possibly even if he doesn’t, so if you can see a flop with him and catch a piece of it, this is a good opportunity for you to try to pick up a bounty for relatively cheap. You should include the player’s bounty when calculating pot odds in these situations. For example, consider if you make four to a flush on the flop with a player who had 800 chips, with the blinds at 50/100 and the pot at 350. The player moves in for the rest of his stack, which is now 700 chips. You will have about 35% to win which normally wouldn’t be enough to justify this big of a call. However, in a bounty tournament you have to add in the fact that you have a 35% chance to win half of a buy-in, which would probably justify a call in this situation.
3. Double through the big stacks
In bounty tournaments you are much more likely to get your all-in called than in regular tournaments because players will be looking for your bounty. For this reason you can start pushing earlier than you normally would and you should restrict yourself to only pushing with big hands. In the 8-15 big blinds range you should only be pushing with top quality hands because you can still afford to be patient and get your money in with a big edge. Once you drop down below 8 big blinds you have to increase your range and push with more moderate hands even if it means trying to win coin flips to double up.
4. Don’t risk too much trying for a bounty
As much as you do earn money from bounties, you can’t afford to forget about the prize pool. Bounty tournaments are basically the same structure as normal tournaments so you shouldn’t change your strategy too much looking for bounties. Follow the few points we outlined above, but don’t go completely bounty crazy and take your eye off the main prize.