Summer’s often a slow period at the poker tables. But BetMGM Poker is giving tournament fanatics and action junkies a reason to sit back down and start stacking chips.
Summer PKO Fest starts on Aug 14 and will run through Aug 21. As the name suggests, this tournament series consists entirely of Progressive Knockout events. There’s a separate series running in each of the three states BetMGM Poker operates in (MI, NJ and PA), and the Michigan version has guarantees totaling over $150,000. That includes $25,000 for the Main Event.
Those guarantees cover only the main prize pool in each event. Since about half of each buy-in goes to bounties, that means there should be over $300,000 in total prizes paid out by the end of the series.
BetMGM Poker Favors Straightforward Schedules
Big tournament series on other sites are often quite complicated, with different games and formats, tournaments running throughout the day, and so on. BetMGM’s strategy has always been to keep its schedules tight and straightforward. Summer PKO Fest is no exception.
Every day of the schedule is pretty similar (you can find the whole thing at the bottom of this article). There are some exceptions to the pattern, which we’ll cover below, but most days consist of three events, spaced one hour apart.
- The first event (the “Slam”) costs $100 and starts at 7 PM.
- A $50 buy-in event (the “Scrap”) starts one hour later, at 8 PM.
- The cheapest event (the “Sprint”) comes last, with a $20 price tag and a 9 PM start.
- Most days, the guarantees for these events are either $10k/$5k/$2k or $8k/$4k/$2k respectively.
Here are the exceptions to that pattern:
- On the first day, Sunday, Aug 14, all the events start 2 hours earlier (5 PM, 6 PM and 7 PM), and the $100 Slam is replaced by a $215 Opener with $20,000 guaranteed.
- Two of the Slams – on Wednesday, Aug 17 and Friday, Aug 19 – will be played six-max rather than full ring.
- On Saturday, Aug 20, all the events are Pot-Limit Omaha rather than Hold’em.
- On Sunday, Aug 21, there are four events, starting with the $215 Finale at 5 PM, with $25,000 guaranteed. Then comes the $50 Scrap at 6 PM, followed (unusually) by the $100 Slam at 7 PM and finally the $20 Sprint at 8 PM.
What are Progressive Knockouts?
Progressive knockout tournaments (PKOs) have been a staple of most online poker sites for the better part of a decade. However, online poker was illegal in Michigan for most of that time. Those only coming back to the game now after years away may need a quick primer.
Just like an old-fashioned bounty or knockout event, part of each player’s buy-in gets withheld from the prize pool to be placed on their head as a bounty. Traditionally, that would only be something like 20% of the buy-in, but for a PKO it’s usually closer to 50%.
Aside from the size of the bounty, the key difference is that eliminating a player only awards half the bounty. The other half gets added to the eliminating player’s own bounty. Thus, the value of knocking players out goes up as the tournament goes on, and the more successful you are in doing so, the more people will be gunning for your bounty.
By the late stages, the biggest bounties can be worth more than a pay jump, making for a lot of very aggressive play. Best of all, the last player standing keeps their own bounty, effectively doubling all the money they’ve won from bounties previously.
How to Beat PKO Tournaments
The nice thing about tournaments, and PKOs especially, is that even the pros don’t understand them quite as well as cash games. In a cash game, a $1 chip is always worth $1, and you can take things one hand at a time. That’s not true with tournament chips. Their value varies depending on your situation.
In a conventional tournament, survival is the priority, so the chips you win aren’t worth quite as much as the chips you lose. Something that would be a break-even call in a cash game becomes a tight fold in a conventional tournament for that reason. If you’ve heard the term ICM (short for “Independent Chip Model”), this is the phenomenon it refers to.
The opposite is usually true in a PKO. About half your winnings are likely to come from bounties, but you can’t win a bounty if you don’t have the player covered. A full PKO strategy guide would be too long for this article, but here are some basic tips:
General Guidelines for PKO Tournaments
- If a player is all-in and you cover them, you can treat whatever money you stand to win from their bounty as dead money in the pot. For simplicity, convert dollars to chips by assuming a starting stack is worth as much as the tournament’s buy-in.
- If a player isn’t all-in yet but could be, do the same calculation but reduce the amount to reflect your guess at the chances that you both end up committed to the pot. For instance, if you’re contemplating a preflop call against a player you cover, but you think there’s a 90% chance one of you is going to fold before the showdown, you can only count 10% of their bounty when calculating your pot odds.
- When you’re the shortest stack at the table, you can’t win any bounties. Doubling up becomes a priority in this case. Don’t play survival poker like you would in a normal tournament. You won’t have much fold equity anyway since everyone wants your bounty.
- When one player at the table has a very large bounty, it’s important to have them covered (and more important the shorter they are). If you have them covered, play tight against other players so as not to drop below their stack size. If you’re the shorter stack, play looser to try to win enough chips to put yourself in a position to go after their bounty.
- Expect multiway pots when a big bounty is up for grabs. Consider folding hands that only play well heads-up, and call more with drawing hands.
- It should go without saying, but don’t try to bluff when you’re the short stack and have a big bounty on your head!
BetMGM Summer PKO Fest Schedule
Here’s the full schedule for the series:
|1 (Opener)||Aug 14, 5 PM||$215||$20,000|
|2||Aug 14, 6 PM||$50||$5,000|
|3||Aug 14, 7 PM||$20||$2,000|
|4||Aug 15, 7 PM||$100||$8,000|
|5||Aug 15, 8 PM||$50||$4,000|
|6||Aug 15, 9 PM||$20||$2,000|
|7||Aug 16, 7 PM||$100||$10,000|
|8||Aug 16, 8 PM||$50||$5,000|
|9||Aug 16, 9 PM||$20||$2,000|
|10 (6-Max)||Aug 17, 7 PM||$100||$8,000|
|11||Aug 17, 8 PM||$50||$4,000|
|12||Aug 17, 9 PM||$20||$2,000|
|13||Aug 18, 7 PM||$100||$10,000|
|14||Aug 18, 8 PM||$50||$5,000|
|15||Aug 18, 9 PM||$20||$2,000|
|16 (6-Max)||Aug 19, 7 PM||$100||$8,000|
|17||Aug 19, 8 PM||$50||$4,000|
|18||Aug 19, 9 PM||$20||$2,000|
|19 (PKO)||Aug 20, 7 PM||$100||$8,000|
|20 (PKO)||Aug 20, 8 PM||$50||$4,000|
|21 (PKO)||Aug 20, 9 PM||$20||$2,000|
|22 (Finale)||Aug 21, 5 PM||$215||$25,000|
|23||Aug 21, 6 PM||$50||$5,000|
|24||Aug 21, 7 PM||$100||$8,000|
|25||Aug 21, 8 PM||$20||$2,000|