UK Bounty Hunter Tournament

If you are a UK Poker player then you will have noticed that on many of the more popular UK Poker sites, such as Sky Poker, Bounty Hunter games are growing in popularity.

In this article, we’ll examine first what a bounty hunter game is before outlining five key differences between playing in a traditional tournament and one of the more modern bounty hunter events.

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What is a Bounty Hunter tournament?

A bounty hunter tournament is an event that seeks to encourage players to try and eliminate each other from the tournament by placing a bounty on that players head for their successful elimination. Of course, the downside is that there is a bounty on your head too.

At the start of the tournament each player has the same bounty on their head and as players eliminate each other, they will earn a percentage of the eliminated player as cash which goes straight into their account and a smaller percentage of the bounty is added to the victorious players bounty.

So, for example, if Player One eliminated Player Two at the start of a Bounty Hunter game and each player had a Bounty Hunter of £1. Then Player Two would be eliminated, Player One would receive a stated percentage amount (usually around 75%) of Player Two’s bounty direct into their account, while the remaining percentage (in this case, 25%) would be added to Player Two’s bounty, making their bounty £1.25.

As players eliminate each other, the bounty on each players head can increase and the further you go on in the tournament, the more players you eliminate, the more money you earn in bounty, but the bigger the bounty on your head for other players.

In the final stages of a bounty hunter tournament, players can successfully earn much larger sums by eliminating players who have previously knocked out many others. The final player standing is not only the tournament winner, earning themselves a cash prize, but also they will earn the biggest share of the bounty (as they will have earned 25% of all the bounty available at the start of the game).

Other than the difference in how cash is awarded, the actual mechanics of the game of bounty hunter is no different to any other form of Texas Hold’em and all the usual Hold’em rules still apply.

Of course, the way the prizes in the Bounty Hunter game is structured means that this can change how a game is likely to play out while at the tables. With a clear cash incentive available for knocking out a player, this does alter the dynamic of the gameplay at the table.

Outlined below are the five key differences you’ll find when playing in a Bounty Hunter game, compared to a regular No Limits Hold’em tournament.

Key Difference One: How the prize pool/your buy in is divided up

The first major difference is how the prize pool, or effectively your buy in is divided up. In a typical Bounty Hunter game on Sky Poker, 50% of your buy in goes into the Cash Pot, the remaining 50% goes as your bounty. So for example, a £2.20 Bounty Hunter event would see the Sky Poker take £0.20 as their rake, £1 of your cash added to the cash prize fund and £1 placed on your head as your bounty.

All players pay the same amount to enter the tournament to ensure fairness.

By dividing the prize pool up this way, this means there is far greater incentive for players to try and eliminate you, especially if you have eliminated a few players yourself (and thus the bounty on your head has grown).

Key Difference Two: Expect people to be more willing to try to eliminate you, even if you possess a strong hand

The upshot of this is that with a bounty on your head, this makes aggressive players even more prone to be willing to try and knock you out of the game.

This is an important aspect to note when playing bounty hunter games, especially if you have a strong hand pre-flop.  While a modest to medium bet in a typical game may put off players from calling you, in a bounty hunter game, more players are willing to take a chance to try and eliminate you.

Indeed, in the early stages of smaller stakes bounty hunter events, don’t be surprised to see some players call you, regardless of what you hold in your hand, or what they hold in theirs.

There is a reason for this as will be explained in more detail in Key Difference number four.

The upshot of the bounty on your head means that it is likely more players will try to eliminate you from the game. If you are very tight player, this may be a concern, if you are a good player, you can use this to your advantage.

How? The key is knowing when to attack other players. Even in a bounty hunter game, the same basic tenets of poker still apply. Try to keep the hand odds in your favour when you do try to win a pot, avoid bluffing unless it is absolutely necessary (or you have a decent read of those at your table) and pick your moment to strike against the loose cannon wisely.

Key Difference Three: Picking the right time to challenge a specific player is vital

In bounty hunter games, it does not take long for some players to gain larger stacks, while some players see theirs dwindle. This inequality makes for rich pickings if you know how.

If you are at a table and have 1000 chips and a player goes all in who has more chips than you, even if you have a relatively strong hand, is it worth the risk?

Of course, that would depend on your point of view, but it is worth noting here that even if you win the pot, you can’t eliminate that player from the hand. So if you are in any doubt at all as to whether you have the stronger hand, it may be prudent to wait until you can find a player in a weaker position.

This is particularly the case if there are other players with an interest in this pot. Let them take on the player with the bigger stack and when the dust has settled, you’ll know which player has come out on top and then focus your attention on players who are not such a threat to you.

Now in contrast, imagine you have a large stack of $2,000 and a relatively strong hand and a player goes all in for $500 chips. Let’s say others fold. It makes complete sense here to take the risk and try to eliminate him as even if you lose, you’ll still have a good stack, but if you win, you not only eliminate him but earn his bounty.

Picking who you choose to battle with at the table is a key skill element of successful bounty hunter playing. That doesn’t mean of course that you shouldn’t win chips when you feel you can, it just means that you shouldn’t take unnecessary risks against players who can hurt you the most.

Key Difference Four: Stack size is imperative, the more you have the more Bounty you can hunt

If you can get on top at your table very quickly and get a decent stack size, then you become a far more formidable foe in a bounty hunter game. For sure, your bounty may be much higher, but fewer players will be willing to take you on as while they won’t be able to eliminate you, you are certainly able to eliminate them.

It is therefore crucial to try and keep your stack ticking over. If action is thin or non-committed then try and steal the pot. Use position when betting to place doubt in other players mind, but always be willing to fold chips in the pot if you have nothing and flop nothing.

If you can keep a steady supply of chips coming into your hand, even if you aren’t taking down bounties initially, it will give you much more opportunity to do so further on in the game.

Key Difference Five: Successful Bounty Hunter players can and will win more from the bounties they collect than their finishing position in the tournament

Good bounty hunter players have realised that it is possible to make a small profit playing this type of game, even if you don’t finish in the paying places.

The fact that 75% of all bounties collected go into your account means that if you can collect just 3 or 4 bounties, you’ll have paid for your entry and into profit.

For example, in a £2.20 bounty hunter game, £1 of the buy in is for the cash pot and £1 is for your bounty. Eliminate three players and you push your bounty up to £1.75, but you also get £2.25 added to your account (3 x 75p). Therefore, you are already 5p up and any extra bounties you earn will earn you pure profit.

This is partly the reason why many players are so aggressive early in the smaller stakes bounty hunter games as just two or three wins can effectively mean a player is not just sitting pretty with chips at the table, but guaranteed to earn a profit on their playing, however small, regardless of what happens in the rest of the tournament.

The downside is, of course, tighter players who only play the very strong hands, may struggle to make an impression in earning bounties, so this may be a good way for this type of player to learn the skills of how to play a little more loosely at the table. All poker tournaments offer a different opportunity to learn and practise different skills and bounty hunter matches are no different.

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