Five Tips for Progressive KO Tournaments

PKO Lobby

With KO Week currently underway on PokerStars, the PokerNews strategy team have come up with five top tips to help you avoid some common mistakes when playing Progressive Knockout (PKO) Tournaments.

For those unfamiliar with PKO events, it would be helpful to understand what they actually are. When you enter a PKO tournament, half of your buy-in goes into the overall prize pool and the other half becomes your bounty.

PKO’s, like normal tournaments, award prizes for where you finish. They also award prizes for each play you eliminate. In traditional bounty or knockout events, if you felt a player there is a fixed amount that you win, in PKO’s it is slightly different. In this format, every time you knock out a player, you win half their bounty while the remaining half goes onto your own bounty. This is where the progressive element takes place.

This means that the more players you knock out, the bigger your bounty will be. A consequence of this is that you now become a target for other players, as they will want to be one to eliminate you and claim the spoils that come with it.

Avoid Risking Your Stack Early On

Early on, bounties are small and surviving to the lucrative late stages is the most important aspect to consider. While it might be nice to get a bounty early on, the financial gains of early eliminations are dwarfed as the event goes on. It’s crucial to make it to the latter stages of a PKO tournament as that is where most of the money resides.

You should try to avoid coin flip scenarios and only risk the majority of your stack when you are a clear favourite. Making it through to the paid places should be at the top of your agenda.

Beware of Aggressive Bounty Hunting

Bounties ramp up a lot in the late game. This is the time to start going after them.

However, don’t forget that the big money is made at the final table. Don’t threaten your chances of finishing in the top five just to collect a few bounties. The risk doesn’t justify the reward. That’s not to say be a complete nit, if a big bounty rips in their stack and it would make little difference to yours then go for it.

Know When to Attack

With a smaller bounty, you can get away with a bit more aggression in steal situations as players are not financially motivated to play pots with you.

Just be aware that if you three-bet an opponent with a marginal hand and they call, it is very likely they have you dominated or a made hand so approach with caution in these scenarios.

Use Your Big Stack to Apply Pressue

If you have a massive stack in the middle stages of a PKO, you are not offering anyone the immediate chance of scoring a bounty. Abuse this situation as much as possible.

Players will be less likely to risk their stack if they aren’t able to win a bounty so they’re forced to avoid confrontations with you. This will help you increase your stack to a point where you are untouchable but as always, you have to pick the right moment to do this.

Playing With a Target On Your Back

Lets set the scenario, you’re in the money and you’ve been near the top end of the chip counts for most of the event. You’ve racked up a plethora of bounties and are just a handful of eliminations until the final table is set, but disaster strikes. You now find yourself as one of the shortest stacks left in the tournament while also having one of the biggest bounties, naturally you are going to be a target for your table mates.

It is now way less likely that the opponents that cover you will fold when you move all-in. You now need to modify your ranges accordingly, this means folding hands like {8-Spades}{7-Spades} when in late position as you are most likely the underdog. You need to shipping in your stack with hands like {k-Spades}{j-Hearts} or {a-Diamonds}{9-Clubs} as you are going to be called with a lot of speculative hands so it helps to be moving all-in when you have big cards.

If you get called by a hand like {10-Diamonds}{9-Diamonds}, you’ll often have two overcards. Even if they pair up on the flop, you’re still live on the turn and river. If you had shoved with medium suited connectors in this spot, you’re drawing extremely thin.

Enjoy KO Week With a $600 Bonus

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Calum Grant

Editor & Live Reporter

Calum has been a part of the PokerNews team since September 2021 after working in the UK energy sector. He played his first hand of poker in 2017 and immediately fell in love with the game. Calum’s proudest poker achievement is winning the only tournament he has ever played in Las Vegas, the prestigious $60 Flamingo evening event.

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