3 tips for playing KO events

April 30, 2021inPoker

Knockout Poker

Ready to lace up your gloves and start collecting some bounties? It’s KO Sunday this Sunday, May 2 on PokerStars, when all your favorite Sunday events turn into knockout tournaments with cash rewards every time you knock out an opponent.

Check the “KO Sunday” tab in the client to see all 12 of this Sunday’s KO events with buy-ins ranging from $11 to $1,050.

Multi-table tournament players not accustomed to the progressive knockout format might be less than eager to jump into a KO event. It’s true that while many of the usual MTT tips still apply, KO tourneys also require some strategic adjustments given the significant rewards associated with collecting knockouts and thus player bounties.

In KO tournaments, the prize pool is split with part going to the top finishers and the rest distributed among players for each opponent they eliminate.

That means you can even turn a profit in the event without “cashing” in the traditional sense. If you knock out enough opponents before being eliminated yourself, you can still come out ahead in a KO tournament.

It’s worth adding, though, that in progressive knockout tournaments, the value of bounties can go up considerably the deeper you get into the event. That’s another factor worth considering. (Most of the events scheduled for KO Sunday are progressive knockout events.)

Because of the alternate way of cashing, KO tournaments need to be approached differently than regular MTTs. Here are three quick tips you can put into practice when you enter those events this weekend on KO Sunday.

1. Play aggressively from the start

There are two reasons to play aggressive early on in KO tourneys instead of playing a tighter, risk-averse game at the beginning as many like to do early in MTTs.

The prospect of collecting bounties and thus cash rewards is one obvious reason to play aggressively. More importantly, though, by playing aggressively you increase your chance of accumulating chips and thus having a larger stack capable of collecting bounties later on.

While some MTT players do just fine nursing a below average stack all of the way into the money, that’s not the right approach in a KO tournament. You can’t knock out anyone if you always have the shortest stack at the table.

Think about it — if you remain content to play a KO tourney with a short stack, half of the prize pool (in most cases) will not available to you at all.

Meanwhile, if you are short, expect larger stacks to come after you and your bounty with a lot more vigor than they might in a regular MTT.

Click here for more tips on playing against short stacks in KO tournaments.

2. Be a big stack bully

MTT players talk about applying “ICM pressure” when the pay jumps are big late in a tournament. The fact is, in a KO tournament you can always exert a similar kind of pressure on shorter stacks due to the bounties in play.

When you have the biggest stack at the table, everyone else has less incentive to get involved in pots with you in a KO tournament. That’s true not just because you can eliminate them, but because they know they cannot win your bounty.

That circumstance should encourage you to be a little more “bully”-like when you have a chip advantage than you might be in a regular MTT. Others avoiding getting involved with you gives you opportunities to steal more blinds, claim more “orphaned” pots, and make your big stack even bigger.

Being a big stack bully forms an important part of broader KO tournament strategy. Click here for more tips particularly addressing that approach when playing progressive knockout events.

3. Let the bounty help you make close decisions

KO tournaments can produce some interesting situations. These include some in which it makes sense to invest your chips by calling a big all-in when you might not do so in a regular MTT.

You can click here to see how the math works in these bounty-affected spots. The summary version of the explanation is to say the possible reward of claiming a bounty can be enough to make a call correct in a spot where you’d probably fold if there weren’t a bounty to be had.

The added bounty means extra “equity,” thus tipping what might be a “coin flip” decision into a clear call.

This is fairly generic advice, but in a PKO tournament in particular when your opponent could have an especially big bounty, it can be worthwhile taking a larger risk when given an opportunity to claim that big prize.

K.O. Bounty Reward
 

If you are a tournament player who primarily sticks with regular, non-bounty tournaments, give KO tourneys a try. If anything, they can encourage tighter players to add more aggression to their games, which can be useful when going back to regular MTTs.

Of course, there are other rewards to be hand in KO tourneys, too… including all of those big bounties!

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PokerStars staff

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