What’s the best hand to call for multiway bounties?

Would you rather have ATs, KJs, 89s or 44 when trying to win two bounties in one go? The answer may surprise you.

PKO tournaments surprise you, a lot, when you study them in depth. This is a classic example. 

It’s early in a PKO, we have 30 Big Blinds on the Button and a short stack goes all-in with one bounty, then gets called by another short stack with two bounties. 

Dara O Kearney

You know you have to call quite wide here, you can win two bounties and maybe more if the blinds get involved. I polled my Twitter audience to see what they thought was the best hand to call with here – 44, ATs, 98s or KJs. Before you scroll to the results, think about which hand you would pick. 

PKO strategy is very different from vanilla tourneys

Early in a PKO, hero is BB with 25BBs, MP1 with 1 bounty shoves for 13BBs, HJ with 17BBs and 2 bounties isolates. What is the best hand for BB to call with here?


— Dara O’Kearney (@daraokearney) November 14, 2021

My followers mostly picked 89s, which makes sense. It’s a hand we know plays well multiway and we know is unlikely dominated. ATs is strong but sometimes dominated by one of the other players. 44 is never in good shape multiway. 

The actual answer is KJs – we punched this hand into the excellent ICMIZER 3 and it revealed that KJs makes 0.25% of the prize pool on average, while ATs makes +0.07%, 98s makes 0.05% as does 44. They are all profitable here, but KJs crushes in this spot. 

Dara O Kearney These are all the hands and how profitable each is

Why is this? We discovered in our research for the book PKO Poker Strategy that hands like KJs perform well when they are up against several wide ranges. KJs can win a lot of ways. It’s feasible that KJs might be the best hand already (you see lots of KTo/JQs type hands in PKOs), if not then making a single pair might win it for them, if that isn’t the case it has the straight or flush equity going for it (and it makes more straights than ATs). 

89s is a bit of a trap hand for people who understand multiway equity is important. You need to specifically make a straight or better with 89s realistically to win two bounties, but a hand like KJs is more robust, it can win a lot of ways, starting with on rare occassion actually being ahead already. 

What did you pick? Let us know in the comments:

Dara O'Kearney

Dara O’Kearney

Dara O’Kearney is a Unibet Poker ambassador and the co-host of The Chip Race Podcast. He is the author of Poker Satellite Strategy, PKO Poker Strategy and Endgame Poker Strategy


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