Bounty tournaments have gained a lot of popularity in recent years. Progressive knockouts (PKOs) have led the way, and, more recently, the mystery bounty format has taken the poker world by storm. All this means that there’s never been a better time to brush up on your bounty strategy and start crushing these games.
The number of resources covering this specific area is still somewhat limited, which makes the Knockout Tournament Mastery course by Run It Once that much more valuable. Presented by their longtime Elite coach Alex Theologis, a man with a proven track record in this format and privy to all the intricacies of these games, this course covers everything there is to know.
As Alex emphasizes in the introduction, Knockout Tournament Mastery is for everyone – whether you’re a seasoned pro or a recreational player who happens to enjoy this particular format. Every important aspect of KOs is covered in the videos, with solid theoretical fundamentals and accompanying calculations and examples to back them up.
RIO Knockout Tournament Mastery at a Glance
The course is divided into 22 main chapters and several logical units, starting with fundamentals of knockout tournaments and progressing through various stages of the game.
Throughout the course, Theologis sticks to the same tournament table to explain things, adjusting slightly as required. This helps keep things consistent and easier to keep up as you learn.
Some of the major topics you’ll find covered inside the course include:
- Bounty Basics
- Opening & jamming – big vs. short stack
- 3-betting and calling – from the short and big stack points of view
- Blind vs. blind play in KOs
- Postflop adjustments
- Knockout tournaments and ICM – bubble, final table, importance of field size, adjusting to very short stacks
- Mystery bounties
Throughout the course, Theologis uses Hold’em Resources Calculator and other poker software tools to explain different situations. These explanations can get a bit overwhelming at times, so it’s critical to take your time with this course and not try to rush through it.
Bounty Basics Explained
The first proper lesson of the Run It Once Knockout Tournament Mastery course is the one you’ll definitely need to watch, even if you decide to skip some later lessons. In it, Alex explains the theory behind different types of KO tournaments and explains how to figure out the value of a bounty.
The video offers very thorough and clear explanations that can be a real eye-opener if you like playing bounties but have never bothered with the theory. Theologis even introduces his “Helping Method,” which can help you figure these things out in real time without too much effort.
In addition to math and theory, the video discusses some other important aspects, such as:
- Future EV
- Soft spots at the table
- What will our stack look like after a decision and implications of this
These are all the concepts and numbers that are referred back to in the rest of the course, so make sure to take your time to understand and internalize them before moving on.
Opening and Jamming Ranges
Figuring out your opening and jamming ranges is important in any poker tournament setting. Most people who have been around have certain ideas about these ranges in regular MTTs, but how do bounties influence those ranges?
Theologis starts by looking at what he refers to as “vanilla” ranges (i.e., non-PKO ranges) and then expands with the addition of bounties to the mix to demonstrate how things change.
It is interesting to see how the added value of the bounties influences both the opening ranges and call-off ranges in certain spots.
For example, Alex discusses how short stacks need to adjust to the fact that they will be targeted more. At the same time, he suggests that, for larger stacks, flat calling instead of 3-betting shorter stacks becomes a much more viable strategy.
3-Betting & Calling
Continuing on from his first couple of lessons, Theologis expands to discuss how to adjust for this knowledge about changed opening ranges.
He once again reiterates that calling, instead of 3-betting, is usually preferred option except in situations where we are holding hands like AK and big pocket pairs. Having some strong hands in the flatting range protects us and allows us to see flops with suited and connected hands that play well after the flop.
In these two videos (short and big stack), he also discusses how our bluffing ranges change (as there are certain hands we’d rather see flops with), and how we almost have no 3-bets in our range when short-stacked (only calls and jams), as other players are too incentivized to get involved and try to get the bounty.
Blind vs. Blind Play in Knockout Tournaments
A couple of videos are focused on the blind vs. blind play, which makes up an important part of any tournament strategy. Theologis examines situations where the big blind covers the small blind, and then moves on to discuss reverse situations.
Some of the things discussed in this section include SB opening range adjustments (virtually non-existent when the big blind covers), and how the big blind increases its isolation range to include some of the pure vanilla call ranges when they cover.
Limping and Multi-Way All-Ins in PKOs
A couple of videos in the Run It Once Knockout Tournament Mastery course are devoted to two interesting topics. The first deals with limping, which is generally regarded as not-so-viable strategy in tournaments.
In PKOs, however, Theologis suggests there are situations where we want to limp more – with hands that we want to see flops with, but there are stacks that cover us left to act.
Another interesting aspect is the hands that we can use for multi-way all-ins. Alex runs some numbers and compares different ranges to figure out how to find the best candidates for these situations, focusing primarily on avoiding the hands that are likely to be dominated.
ICM Considerations in PKOs
Several videos towards the end of the course focus on ICM (Independent Chip Model) aspects and how these change in different stages of bounty tournaments.
For example, during the bubble stage, short stacks have to further tighten their ranges, as they can expect to get looked up much more. Big stacks have to be more careful, too, as short stacks can call wider since their risk premium is lower.
Talking about the final table, it is really interesting to see how things can change, as the value of bounties (expressed in big blinds) starts to drop.
Is RIO Knockout Tournament Mastery for You?
One thing I will say about the Knockout Tournament Mastery course is that it includes a lot of math and ranges. This isn’t always easy to keep up with, especially if you’re less naturally mathematically inclined, but it’s also the only way to really dig under the surface and explain how these tournaments differ from the “vanilla” ones and where the need for different adjustments comes from.
It really depends on how far you want to take your Progressive Knockout game. Even if you only pick up some smaller adjustments and understand basic principles, your game is bound to improve significantly.
On the other hand, if you are ready to put in the work, Theologis really breaks down this format to the finest detail. If you take the time to understand, learn, and memorize all the slight variations, you’ll be ready to compete with the best and easily crush the average competition in these events.
This is an advanced and detailed course, so the $499 price tag for lifetime access seems pretty spot-on. It will require some commitment, but if PKOs are your cup of tea, your commitment will undoubtedly be handsomely rewarded.