Join A Poker Community Of 200,000+ Users!

Winning Hands: How Much Is That Bounty Worth?

by Greg Raymer |  Published: Jan 11, 2023


Please let me encourage you to reach out to me with article ideas and questions for future columns. You can tweet to me at @FossilMan, or send me a message at

In 2019, I published FossilMan’s Winning Tournament Strategies, a 42-chapter book covering all of the basic concepts behind being a winning tournament player, as well as many of the more advanced strategies. This book could be compared to the lecture portion of my seminars. I have been working on a second book, however, and thought it should more resemble the live hand labs.

For this book, I will go through several dozen hands I have played and break down each decision along the way. Although not yet finished, I thought it would be fun to provide excerpts of some of those hands here for Card Player readers.

I love bounty tournaments, and the hand for this discussion is from level 2 of a World Series of Poker super turbo bounty event.

The blinds were 50-100, and I was on the button with 3,500 (down from my 5,000 starting stack) with KSpade Suit 6Spade Suit. The under-the-gun player had just lost a huge pot, and moved all in for their last 550. The hijack and cutoff, who both had me covered, called.

I decided to go all-in for 3,500, getting the hijack, cutoff, and blinds to fold, just as I had hoped, and got heads-up with the short-stack. He had QHeart Suit 6Heart Suit, failed to improve, and I won the pot of 2,300 plus his $300 bounty.

More than one player at the table thought I was crazy to make this play, and weren’t afraid to tell me so.

In this event, we paid $1,000 to enter, with $100 going to fees, $300 towards the bounty, and $600 into the main prize pool. Since our start stack of 5,000 is worth about $600 in the main prize pool, a bounty of $300 is equal in value to 2,500 chips. Given this, it would be a huge mistake for me to fold preflop.

If I call, I am risking 550 to win 1,800 in the pot, plus a bounty worth 2,500 (chip value), pot odds of about 8:1. Certainly, even with the other two players in the pot, this is too good of a price to pass up, and folding would be a mistake.

A lot of players would therefore call. But there is another option. If I raise, and the active players all fold, now I’m getting those 8:1 pot odds, and only have to beat the all-in player to win. And if I’m going to raise, the only reasonable choice is all-in.

Any of four remaining opponents could call my all-in, and have a shot at winning two bounties, as well as my chips. If they are highly-skilled players who understand how to adjust for a bounty event, then my shove will get called fairly often. If that’s the case, it would be a mistake to go all-in. If I believe I’m not getting any better hand to fold, then I should just call and try to hit a lucky flop.

However, even though it is only level 2, we can be sure that these opponents who already called do NOT have much understanding of how to adjust for a bounty event. How do we know that? Because they only called. 550 is a cheap price, and when each of them called, they should have known that it was highly likely other players would also call, and thereby reduce their chances of winning this bounty. Each of them, if holding a strong enough hand to call, also had a strong enough hand to reraise, and try to push the rest of us out of the pot. They should frequently be trying to isolate the all-in short-stack, to maximize their chances of winning that bounty worth 2,500.

Given the above, as well as how the table had been playing in general, I was confident that my shove would only get called if one of the active players had a premium hand. And with a premium hand, they would have typically reraised even if the first raise had not been all-in. So, we can rule out premium hands with a reasonable degree of certainty. Even better, it worked this time, as they and the blinds all folded.

Even though the UTG player is short-stacked and desperate, he will typically have a hand that is either ahead of, or in good shape against, my rather piddly K-6 suited. But this doesn’t matter. Even if he has a top 10% hand, I will beat him about one-third of the time. Getting 8:1 pot odds while being a 2:1 underdog is a massively profitable spot to put myself in.

Since he is UTG, short-stacked, and desperate, he likely has a much wider range than top 10%, meaning we are probably closer to even money against his range.

And if he survives because I eliminated the competition? So what! It is early, and I gain no value by reducing the field size. We are a LONG way from the money, where I gain equity whenever an opponent is eliminated. My only concern here is maximizing my own equity.

If my actions, done to increase my equity, end up increasing his equity at the same time, that’s fine with me. If I play the hand more passively, and thereby get him eliminated by somebody else, that does nothing to help me. Your only goal is to maximize your own equity, with zero regard for the equity you take from, or give to, any other player while doing so.

Have fun, and play smart!

Greg Raymer is the 2004 World Series of Poker main event champion, winner of numerous major titles, and has more than $7 million in earnings. He is the author of FossilMan’s Winning Tournament Strategies, available from D&B Publishing, Amazon, and other retailers. He is sponsored by Blue Shark Optics, YouStake, and ShareMyPair. To contact Greg please tweet @FossilMan or visit his website.