Are Progressive Knockout (PKO) tournaments unsolvable?
“It’s true that there’s some serious math going on, but unsolvable I’d say is a bit of an exaggeration,” says BBZ coach Jonathan “apestyles” Van Fleet in his Webinar Bundle.
In his PKO video, apestyles covers a couple of methods he uses to estimate how to play PKO tournaments–and whether it’s worth going for a bounty–on the fly.
Let’s go through them.
- Changing odds method
- Bounty power
Changing odds method
Let’s say we’re playing a $109 Bounty Builder PKO tournament (with a $9 rake). The starting stack is 5,000 chips.
We spend $50 for 5,000 chips and that money goes into the main prize pool. The other $50 goes into the bounty prize pool. We win $25 if we knock out a player, while the bounty on our heads increases by $12.50.
As we spent $50 for 5,000 chips, it stands to reason that $50 = 5,000 chips.
Therefore, it also stands to reason that a $25 bounty will equal 2,500 chips. So if you have someone covered and they’re all in, you can add 2,500 chips to the pot to calculate your pot odds.
TIP: Check out our article: How to convert your pot odds into equity
“If you’re always getting 2:1 then some pretty crazy plays can be advocated,” says apestyles.
But as the main prize pool is held back until the later stages of the tournament–and the min-cash in PKOs is usually less than the buy-in–is this really how we should approach things?
Making wild plays in a bid to win starting bounties will almost certainly put you at risk of not getting future bounties (or reaching the final table, where the prize money becomes significant). Those future bounties will be far larger as the tournament progresses.
“The truth is the changing odds method is not useful for any stage [of the tournament] except for the early stages,” says apestyles. “ICM, stack depth, changing prize pools etc. all influence our $EV at any given stage of the tournament. But it’s better than not doing anything.
“It’s tough to assign a static amount of chips to how much a bounty is worth since that will be a constantly shifting figure.”
Quite simply, apestyles summarises the bounty power concept as:
Number of starting bounties won ÷ Number of starting stacks risked
“A good question to be asking yourselves is: what kind of a deal am I getting?” says apestyles.
Let’s say you’ve got to risk four starting stacks for one bounty; that’s not a good deal. “There’s no additional equity we get,” says apestyles.
But let’s say someone has one bounty and one starting stack; that’s a better deal as you’re risking a smaller percentage of your own stack.
“If you have to risk multiple starting stacks for one or two starting bounties the deal isn’t good, so it’s not a huge equity drop. However, if you can win several bounties, the required equity will drop significantly.”
Apestyles concludes that if someone has one starting stack and one bounty, for all-ins you’ll need around 5-7% less equity than you would if it was Chip EV.
TIP: You can study Chip EV with BBZ’s charts
If they have two bounties for one starting stack–a great deal–you can have 8-10% less equity.
If they have two starting stacks but only one bounty, the deal isn’t as good, but you can still widen your range a little bit: around 2-4% less than Chip EV.
More in this series:
The apestyles guide: Small blind vs big blind
The apestyles guide: C-betting on the flop
The apestyles guide: When to defend on the river
The apestyles guide: How to play the turn