Excitement is building here at the European Poker Tour (EPT) in Barcelona as bounties in the €3,000 Mystery Bounty Championship are about to come into play.
It was just a regular tournament on yesterday’s Day 1. Grind, build a stack, and hopefully find a bag at the end.
But Day 2 is when you can start winning bounty tokens and when players return from their dinner break, the bounty tombola containing all of the prize envelopes will officially open for business.
That means anyone who has eliminated a player (or players) so far today will be able to exchange their bounty tokens and pull a mystery bounty envelope.
Naturally, everyone is hoping they’ll be the lucky one to pull the biggest possible cash prize, or the PSPC 2023 envelope containing a Platinum Pass worth $30,000.
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 Spraggy, Lex Veldhuis, Christoph Vogelsang, Dan Smith, Nick Walsh, and Wistern had to say below.
When would you pull your bounties?
Straight away. Straight away.
Listen, I don’t know what GTO dictates. I don’t know what’s the most +EV. But I do know that I’m like a kid in a sweet shop. So, when I get an envelope, I need to see what’s in it straight away. I’m leaving the table. If I’m in the big blind, I’m like: take my blinds. I’ve got to go.
I’d queue up ASAP. I’d abandon the tournament, but that’s only because my energy is uncontrollable.
But in all seriousness, I think getting it straight away is probably the best thing to do. Especially if the big one is still in. You probably shouldn’t miss hands, though.
It’s like Deal or No Deal, you know? You don’t want the biggest prize to disappear because obviously, that’s a huge part of the prize pool. If that’s still in you’ve just got to go up straight away and try to ding it off.
I think the first thing you should do is check the short stacks at your table. If there’s a 10-big-blind stack, then I wouldn’t go. But if everyone has around 30-40 big blinds, then it might actually be a good idea to leave the table and instantly cash it.
Imagine you’re thinking ‘Should I go now? Yes or no?’ and then someone else goes and pulls the biggest bounty, and that could have been you. That’s misery. But I do think that getting it as soon as possible–on some tables–is a good idea.
There are going to be situations where it’s better to stay at the table and get more bounties though.
For Mystery Bounty strategy advice, check out: How to adjust for Mystery Bounty tournaments: Dara O’Kearney’s view
It really doesn’t matter.
It wouldn’t be good for the structure of the tournament if [people were leaving the table constantly to go pull bounties]. But it’s pure logic, right? If the worst prize gets pulled then your chances increase. So it doesn’t matter when you go up. At no time is a single time [to go pull your bounty] better or worse. It’s always the same. You have zero chance to get some money once you bust, so psychologically it can be nice to go [after you’ve been eliminated]. Whatever makes you happy, I guess!
Read: All PokerStars Blog coverage from Barcelona
I’d say it’s important to go up and take them as you get them–assuming you’re not going to miss any hands. You still want to be involved in as many pots as possible. But I think that’s GTO because if you pull the absolute monster bounty, the demoralisation and destruction that you can wreak on your opponents will be unbelievable. If you save them up, sure, it might be exciting for you, but you want to be out there trying to demoralise everyone as fast as possible. If you spike the big daddy right off the bat, it’s going to be good.
Conversely, if you end up picking a bunch of min-bounties, you might demoralise yourself in the process.
Do it for the memes. Do it for the laughs. A bit of camaraderie. I think everyone is going to play a little bit worse if they know the big prize is gone, so that’s what you want.
I actually spoke to the Spanish guys about this the other day. They think you should go up there and grab an envelope as quickly as possible. Every time you get one, go up because once the big prize is gone, it’s gone. You’ve got to take your chance. If you wait around and the big prize gets pulled, you lose so much equity right away.
Missing hands might be a thing. I think it depends on how many other people are up there and if there’s a queue. If you see people going up there quickly, you want to go too, but the longer the queue, the more hands you’ll miss. I’m not sure!
The EV doesn’t change.
There’s a set number of bounties and I’ll just do it when I’m on break and there’s not much of a line.
Someone’s going to go up and they’re either going to get a good bounty or a bad bounty. It doesn’t change your expected value.
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