Poker: Knockout Tournaments Explained

As Sean Connery said in The Highlander, don’t lose your head. Knockout tournaments have arrived at Bodog Poker, and they’re the biggest thing in the poker world right now; everyone’s got a bounty on their head in these tournaments, so there’s even more incentive to hit the felt and take out your opponents, until you’re the only one left standing. There can be only one.

But what if you’ve never played any knockout poker tournaments in your life? Not a problem; this guide will tell you everything you need to know about the latest craze in online poker. We’ll look at the three main types of knockout tournaments at Bodog, we’ll consider their good and bad points, and we’ll even show you a trick or two that will help you claim as many heads as possible while keeping yours intact. On top of that, our recent article gives our top five tips on how to overcome a "bad" poker hand. Let's get to it, shall we?

Pros and Cons of Knockout Poker Tournaments

There are dozens of ways to play poker, each with something different to offer. Tournament poker is the most popular game at the moment, made even more popular by the knockout format, but it’s not always the right game to play. You have to have enough time in your schedule to play tournaments, and you have to have a big enough bankroll to deal with all those upswings and downswings that come with the added variance compared to cash poker.

Knockout tournaments bring even more variance to the table. At the same time, these tournaments might be the most fun you ever have playing poker. There’s already nothing quite like the satisfaction you get when you eliminate someone from an event. Receiving a cash prize for your efforts makes it even more rewarding. Those bounties can get very, very big, too – sometimes almost as big as the money you win for finishing first.

Types of Knockout Poker Tournaments

If you have any concerns when it comes to scheduling or high variance, fear not. There are three different types of knockout tournaments on the schedule at Bodog Poker, so chances are one of these formats will fit your needs.  

Multi-Table Knockout Tournaments

The poker boom of the early Aughts was built on Multi-Table Tournaments (MTTs). They took everything that’s great about cash poker and turned it into an actual sport; everyone buys their seat in advance, and starts playing poker at the same designated time, trying to see who comes out on top and takes home the biggest prize. Knockout MTTs simply add to the fun by awarding a bounty for every player you eliminate.

Standard MTTs take all the buy-ins and put them in the prize pool, which will be distributed among the players who last the longest. The deeper you go, the bigger the prizes get. With standard knockout MTTs, 20% of that prize pool is reserved for bounties, and with Super Knockout MTTs, it’s 50%. For example, if you buy into a knockout tournament for $100, you win $20 every time you felt someone. That goes up to $50 when you enter a Super Knockout for the same price.

As you can see, you only need to claim a few bounties to break even when you play a knockout tournament. You don’t even have to finish in the money. It definitely helps, though, so don’t just go out there willy-nilly and start throwing punches. Play more aggressively as the bounties get bigger, but do it the smart way by betting for value and bluffing less often, just like you would in any other aggressive tournament.

You’ll also want to call your opponents more often than you would in a regular MTT – more risk, more reward. But that’s assuming you have more chips than your opponents. If you don’t, that changes the risk/reward balance again. Always be aware of everyone’s stack size, not just your own, and if you’re a bit short, don’t be afraid to take chances in the right spots to accumulate the chips you need to start knocking people out again.

Sit & Go Knockout Tournaments

The Sit and Go (SNG) might be the smartest way to play poker. This format combines the sporting elements of tournament poker with the scheduling flexibility and lower variance of cash poker; the events start once enough players have signed up, rather than at a designated time, and because the field size is limited, SNGs usually take a lot less time to finish than MTTs. You can even play a heads-up SNG with just you and one other opponent.

Knockout SNGs provide the same balance, but with bounties included. So if you’re short on time, or you find the upswings and downswings of regular tournament poker a bit too much to take, consider playing knockout SNGs instead. They’re also a great learning tool for dealing with the late stages of knockout MTTs, especially the all-important final table, where the prizes get really serious.

Progressive Knockout Tournaments

Speaking of serious money, the bounties at progressive knockout tournaments will blow your socks off. With a basic knockout event, you collect 20% of your buy-in as the bounty; under the progressive format, you collect 10%, and the other 10% is added to your own head. That means everyone’s bounty gets bigger the deeper they go into the tournament. Make it a Super Progressive Knockout with 50% of the prize pool dedicated for bounties, and the action gets really intense.

Want to collect one of these enormous bounties for yourself? Now’s the time to visit the Bodog Poker lobby and see what’s on the knockout tournament schedule. And while you’re at it, don’t forget about all of the other useful strategy articles we have waiting for you here at Bodog. With a little know-how and some practice, you’ll be bossing the tournament felt in no time, so keep reading, keep playing, and we’ll see you at the knockout tables.