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Everything You Need to Know About Bounty Poker

Shane C

Apr 27, 2023

Everything You Need To Know About Bounty Poker

Bounty poker is quickly becoming one of the most popular formats to play. The fast-paced action and gambling-friendly gameplay have made it a favourite amongst pros and recreational players alike. If you’ve seen these bounty tournaments in your online poker lobby and wondered what they were, you’re in the perfect place, as we’re here to give you everything you need to know about bounty poker.

What is Bounty Poker?

Bounty poker is a tournament where poker players are rewarded for knocking out their opponents. Each player has a “bounty” on their head that is awarded to the player who eliminates them from the tournament. This incentive leads to a lot of action because if you’re good enough to knock out enough opponents, you can make a profit before you’ve even made the money!

How do you Play Bounty Poker Tournaments?

Bounty tournaments work the same way as regular tournaments; you register and pay for your entry like normal and receive your starting stack, but not all of your entry fee goes to the prize pool. Some of the money goes to the poker site, some to the prize pool, and the rest acts as your bounty. This means that there are two ways to make money, either by finishing high enough in the tournament to make the money or by eliminating another player.

The more opponents you eliminate, the more bounties you earn, which gives you great motivation to splash around and gamble to try and knock out your opponents. It’s common for players to make their money back and even make a profit before they’ve reached the money in these tournaments, so trying to get a big stack and eliminate your opponents is the most profitable way to play.

If you manage to make it to heads up in a bounty tournament and win the whole thing, not only do you get your opponent’s bounty, but you also get to keep your own bounty - a nice little two for one! The value of the bounty may vary depending on the exact type of bounty poker tournament you’re playing, as several varieties have been created since it first began. 

Popular Bounty Poker Games

What are the Most Popular Types of Bounty Poker?

There are three main types of bounty tournaments you’re likely to come across when you’re playing: Standard KO, Progressive KO, and Mystery Bounty. Each of these has different mechanics, which changes how much you can win from each bounty, but all of them are really fun to play. Let’s take a closer look at each format.

Standard KO

This was the first iteration of bounty tournaments, and the way they work is very simple. A bounty is put on each player's head at the start of the game, say $10, which is the amount you win every time you knock out an opponent. It doesn’t matter whether you’re knocking out the first person or the last person in the tournament; the bounty you win will always remain the same. 

This is becoming less and less popular in MTTs, but it’s still widely seen in Sit and Go bounty tournaments. The problem it faces is that the bounties don’t remain relevant in the late stages of a tournament compared to the early stages. After a certain point, these tournaments essentially become regular tournaments again.

Progressive KO

After a few years, the Progressive Knockout bounty tournament was born, and it has now become the most widely played version of bounty poker. Rather than the static bounty amounts you see in Standard KO tournaments, the bounties in a Progressive KO increase the more players you knock out. The most common way they work is that when you win a bounty from an opponent, half of it goes into your pocket, and half goes to the bounty on your head.

For example, if you’re playing in a Progressive Knockout tournament where the initial bounty is $10 and you knock out one of your opponents, $5 of that bounty will go directly to you, but the other $5 will be added to your bounty. That means that if someone knocks you out, your bounty is worth $15 rather than $10.

This increase happens throughout the tournament, so by the time you get to the final table, it’s possible that a bounty is worth more than a pay jump! This is the preferred bounty poker format used by most poker sites, as the bounties remain relevant throughout the whole tournament, and the incentive is still there to gamble to try to knock players out and win their bounty right up to the very end.

Mystery Bounty

Such has been the prevalence of these Progressive KO tournaments that professionals have spent hours and hours trying to come up with ways to solve them. The addition of the bounties initially made the tournaments more interesting, as players didn’t know what adjustments to make, leading to even the best poker players making massive punts in big spots. 

However, just like everything in poker, eventually, the smart guys figured it out, and they started crushing the games. The key is to determine how much you should be adjusting your ranges based on the bounties in play. Many players and poker sites didn’t like this, as the point of these bounty tournaments were to create a fun poker variant where players were on a more level playing field. That balance has been somewhat redressed with the introduction of Mystery Bounties.

A Mystery Bounty tournament is a tournament where the prize you win for knocking out an opponent isn’t known when you make your decision; it’s only revealed after you win the prize. The list of prizes you can win is set at the start of the tournament; most bounties are the minimum amount, but some of them can be 50x or even 100x your buy-in! Not only does this add another layer of excitement when your bounty is revealed, but it also eliminates some of the skill edges that the better players have.

Mystery Bounty tournaments have become extremely popular over the past few years. The WSOP even hosted a $1,000,000 mystery bounty tournament this year, where one lucky winner won a cool million cash prize just for knocking out an opponent! 

Why You Should Play Bounty Poker Tournaments

Bounty poker tournaments are an extremely fun format of tournament poker to play. You’ll find that a lot more gamble-y players enter these tournaments due to the increased action, so don’t worry about being at a table full of nits. There’s less stack preservation and more gambling, as people get their money in to try and win bounties.

Even if you like to play on the conservative side, you could find these tournaments very profitable. Many players go crazy in these tournaments, so you can sit back, wait for a good hand, and pick up the bounties as they come to you. The truth is, whatever style of poker you play, there’s a lot to like about bounty tournaments!

Natural8 Bounty Tournaments

If all this bounty poker talk has got you in the mood to fire off a few tournaments, then we’ve got just the thing for you. Natural8 has plenty of bounty tournaments for you to play, no matter your bankroll! Whether you’re a high roller who wants to play the $315 Bounty King Progressive Knockout tournament with a huge $25,000 guarantee, or if you’re just starting on your poker journey and want to play the $1.05, $1500 guarantee Bounty Special, we’ve got you covered. Jump into one of these great tournaments for yourself and see just how fun they are.

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