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Last updated Tuesday 22 February 2022…

You might not have played a Bounty Builder Series before.

You might prefer to steer clear of niche events altogether. After all Bounties make you a target.

But imagine if that was different for a second.

Imagine you knew when to ignore the target on your own back and focus more on spotting the target on everyone else’s.

Imagine you could not only manage the change of pace, but know how to thrive in it? You could learn the ropes of Bounty Builder, so it all became clearer.

Even better. You could become the type of player who seeks out bounty events for the same reason others play them – locking in a win even without reaching the money bubble.

Well that’s what these tips are all about.

Because this weekend marks the start of the Bounty Builder Series on PokerStars. And we want to remove the mystery about how to play and how they work.

These tips will suit anyone curious about this new series. From regular KO Poker players to anyone about to try it for the first time.

Here you’ll learn things like…

  • The main priority you should keep in mind in any Bounty Builder event
  • The importance of judging risk
  • When to go on the attack and when to hold back
  • How to best utilise a big stack
  • What to do if it all goes wrong

Does this sound like something you’d benefit from? Then read on to find out more.

The important bit… this is how each bounty is calculated. KO a player, and you’ll get 25% of their buy in, while another 25% gets added to your own bounty.

The 5 steps to better Bounty Builders

There are 5 simple things to improve your Bounty Builder Strategy…

  • Survive (simple)
  • As bounties increase so does your risk.
  • Attack when small, less so when big
  • When you have a big stack = bully
  • The Fallen Giant strategy

Don’t worry if that sounds confusing. We’re about to explain it all.

Remember, Bounty Builder events look like regular tournaments, but require different strategy. Experienced players know this. But anyone new to KO poker can easily miss it.

By learning these 5 steps you’ll put yourself in a better position to level up your game.

It sounds obvious, but prioritise staying in the tournament so you can win bigger bounties late on.


Step 1: Survive

Sounds simple right? If you could crack this there would never be a problem. You’d win every event you played.

Well, we don’t mean it to sound trite.

But with bounties increasing in size as the tournament plays on it makes sticking around as long as possible the best way to earn those windfalls.

Do that by managing the risk you’re exposed to.

Take this example from our PokerStars Schools expert Pete Clarke

An early KO will boost your bankroll. But not by much. You’ll pick up 25 per cent of the buy-in, but alongside the overall prize pool… that’s not a lot.

The bigger prize money comes deeper into the tournament. Which makes ensuring you get there doubly important.

So avoid early risks. Going deep is your main aim.

There’s a right time to take risks, and a wrong time.

Step 2: Bounties increase but so does the risk

Let’s be clear. If there’s a bounty to win, go after it. But let’s take another example from PokerStars School

Imagine the tournament is a $44 Progressive KO (an easy number to divide four ways).

Imagine the field contained 1000 runners. Now you find yourself with a big stack with 100 players left.

That means 900 opponents have busted. And each one contributed 25% of the buy-in or $10 to the bounty of whoever knocked them out.

Put another way… $9,000 has been added to the bounties since the start of the tournament.

With 100 players left, each has roughly $90 extra on their bounty.

You get half if you bust someone.

So now you’re getting $45. Much better than that initial $10 for busting someone.

You can see how the Step 1 strategy of surviving can pay off!

But here’s the flip side of going after bounties late on.

Remember… like in any poker tournament the big money is on the final table.

While a large bounty is worth a few extra risks, keep in mind your own tournament status. Don’t take too big a risk and ruin your chances.

The size of your own bounty makes a big difference to how you should play…

Step 3: Attack more with a small bounty… less with a big one

This is where we get into the maths behind playing Bounty Builder tournaments. And how your opponent’s view of you depends on the size of your bounty.

Another example…

If you’ve not won many bounties, and your own bounty is on the small side, you’re more likely to get away with opening hands lighter than you might usually.

The reason is straight forward. There’s not much extra incentive for opponents to take you on with their own marginal hand.

Or to use the poker term, implied odds.

When you have a large bounty on your head it adds implied odds from your opponent’s point of view. It means they’re trying to win your stack, AND your bounty.

But if your bounty is on the small side those implied odds decrease. Your opponent is more likely to figure the price isn’t right (it’s not worth it) to play their hand.

Plus, as the blinds start to increase, more players will want to protect their stack. Their eye will be on the big targets, not you with your small bounty.

When you have a big stack be sure to use it…

Step 4: Bully with a Big Stack

Boiled down to its most basic elements poker is survival of the fittest. And the fittest have the biggest stacks. When you have one you must use it well to enhance your chances of surviving further.

Take this example…

If you have a big bounty on your head early on, you’re also likely to have a lot of chips to go with it. The result of all those players you sent to the rail.

That makes you a formidable opponent. It’s practically impossible for the smaller stacks to take you on as you’ll have them well covered.

Playing a big pot against them places all the risk with them, not you. If they win, you’re left unscathed and with your bounty intact. If you win it will likely be the end of their tournament, and you’ll rack up another bounty.

All of which means you should turn bully.

Use this power to KO opponents to your advantage. Most will avoid you, waiting to play against more favourable opponents. Meanwhile, you can start building your stack even more.

If you find yourself becoming a Fallen Giant, you need to adjust your strategy fast…

Step 5: When it all goes wrong. The “Fallen Giant” scenario.

Remember, this is still poker. Things can go against you, even when you’ve been cruising along as the big stack.

When that happens you can find yourself playing as the Fallen Giant.

This is when having amassed a big stack, you’ve suddenly found yourself on the wrong end of a hand.

Your once magnificent stack now looks, well, ordinary.

Even worse, your bounty is still enormous.

This puts you in a very perilous position. Especially as you reach the late stages of a tournament.

You’ll find it impossible to force your opponents to fold. The bounty above your head will be just too tempting to pass up on.

All of which means your mission needs to change. And quick.

Start shoving with a wider value range but avoid doing so with hands that are underdogs against hands like 87s.

You might do this in late position because it pushes some equity against very strong hands.

But as the Fallen Giant you need to switch these for hands like KJo and A9o.

You’ll find your well stacked opponent will take you on with less than good cards, especially if it’s just you and them in the pot. So be ready. Shove a lot of big cards in late position.

Then sit tight and start hoping they hold up.


A recap on those 5 things to remember…

So there you have it.

There are no guarantees in poker, but if you keep these 5 things in mind, you’ll put yourself ahead of opponents unaware of this Bounty Builder strategy.

Here they are again as a reminder…

  • Step 1. Bounties are small early on. Surviving into the later stages is your priority.
  • Step 2. Bounties increase a lot late in the game. This is the time to start going after them.
  • Step 3. With a smaller bounty, you can get away with a bit more aggression in steal situations.
  • Step 4. With a massive stack, you are not offering anyone the immediate chance of scoring a bounty. Use this situation to bully as much as possible.
  • Step 5. If you become a Fallen Giant with a large bounty, you must anticipate less fold equity and modify your range.

Follow these steps and you’ll be playing a more optimal Bounty Builder Strategy. And you can read the full article by Pete Clarke outlining these tips on PokerStars School.

And if you want to read more then try our Complete Guide to Knock Out Poker available here.

Good luck.


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