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It’s the new format that’s swept the poker world, both live and online. Here’s a guide to how Mystery Bounty tournaments work.


Mystery Bounty tournaments combine the thrill and skill of poker tournaments with the excitement and anticipation of a raffle or lottery. Huge prizes can be won and you don’t even need to be near the end of the tournament to win them.

But if you’ve never played one before, you might be unclear on the rules. Don’t sweat, we’ve got you covered.

Find out how Mystery Bounty tournaments work in this guide.

ONLINE

PokerStars Mystery Bounty is a type of poker tournament where can win Mystery Bounties as part of the prize pool.

Mystery Bounty tournaments have an initial stage and a final stage:

  • Initial stage – The tournament begins like a regular tournament and players cannot win Mystery Bounties during this stage.
  • Final stage – This usually begins when the money bubble bursts. Players will now win a Mystery Bounty for every player they knock out during this stage. More details about when this stage (such as the remaining bounty prizes) can be seen in the ‘Tournament Info’ widget in the corner of the table.

If you win a Mystery Bounty you will be awarded the prize there and then, meaning you could have a huge sum added to your PokerStars balance instantly.

Mystery Bounty table on PokerStars

Eliminate a player and you get your prize immediately

A part of the tournament buy-in for Mystery Bounty events goes towards the regular prize pool and another portion contributes to the Mystery Bounty prize pool. See the tournament lobby for more information.

Prize unveiled on PokerStars Mystery Bounty table

You can view the remaining prizes in the Tournament Info widget

There can be up to nine different tiers of Mystery Bounties, with the highest tier offering the top prize, and lower tiers offering lower-value prizes.

If you knock a player out during the final stage of the tournament, you will receive one of the remaining Mystery Bounties.

Players can win multiple Mystery Bounties – one each time they eliminate a player during the final stage.

Players can win multiple Mystery Bounties with one hand if they knock out more than one opponent. They will win a Mystery Bounty for each player they eliminate during the hand.

If a player is knocked out in a chop hand, all the winning players will split the Mystery Bounty equally.

Players can monitor which Mystery Bounty prizes are still available in the ‘Tournament Info’ widget.

LIVE

Live Mystery Bounty tournaments are almost identical to online but with one major difference…

Like online Mystery Bounty tournaments, live versions also have two stages.

The initial stage — usually Day 1 — plays like a regular tournament with no bounties in play. The goal is to accumulate chips like you would in a regular event because you’ll want a big stack once the bounties do come into play.

The Final stage — this could be the beginning of Day 2, a few levels into Day 2, or when the money bubble bursts, depending on the field size — is where each player gets a mystery bounty on their heads. Eliminate an opponent and you collect a token that allows you to open a mystery bounty envelope.

The major difference between live and online Mystery Bounty events is that online, players are told what the bounty is worth immediately when they KO someone. But in a live version, it’s up to the player to decide when they go up and pull their envelopes.

Do you pull one at a time as you win them? Or wait until you have a few and risk the biggest prizes already being won?

Player picking out Mystery Bounty envelope at EPT Monte Carlo

Mystery Bounty draw in Monte Carlo

MYSTERY BOUNTY STRATEGY

HOW TO ADJUST FOR MYSTERY BOUNTY TOURNAMENTS: DARA O’KEARNEY’S VIEW

Players at EPT Prague got to sample a “Mystery Bounty” tournament for the very first time – a new format in which knocking someone out earns you the chance to pick a random bounty and a potentially huge bonus payday. Irish poker pro – and expert in satellite and bounty tournament play – Dara O’Kearney watched it play out, and here offers his view on how strategy should change in this format.

A player celebrates picking out a big prize at a PokerStars event

MYSTERY BOUNTY ADVICE FROM EPT PRAGUE’S ENVELOPE CRUSHER ELIAS GUTIERREZ 

Elias “SinKarma” Gutierrez was king of the bounties at EPT Prague in 2023, winning €200,000 in mystery prizes alone. Here, he shares his advice for the online versions you’ll play during Mystery Bounty Series.

Picking out a winning Bounty prize in a PokerStars event

MYSTERY BOUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP: WHEN SHOULD YOU PULL YOUR BOUNTIES?

When playing a live Mystery Bounty tournament, players have the choice of when they go up to the box to pull their envelopes. But when’s the best time to go up and pull your bounties? Is there a GTO strategy at all? What factors at your table do you need to take into consideration? And what impact can the big bounties have on the players psychologically?

To find out, we asked the pros. Find out what SpraggyLex VeldhuisChristoph VogelsangDan SmithNick Walsh, and Wistern had to say in this article.

A box full of gold envelopes containing PokerStars EPT bounty prizes

OTHER TYPES OF BOUNTY TOURNAMENT

A pie chart showing what portion of prize money is allocated in bounty events

Before you launch into any upcoming Bounty Builder Series or Mystery Bounty Series, it is probably a good idea to get a firm grasp on the different types of knockout tournaments.

So what is a PKO tournament? What’s a PKO got that a KO hasn’t? And how do things change again in a TKO or Mystery Bounty?

Find out in this article:

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN KO, PKO, TKO AND MYSTERY BOUNTY POKER?

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