Mystery bounty tournaments are a new sensation that combine the best of bounty tournaments with the surprise factor of not knowing the bounties ahead of time, and the chance of winning a major prize each time you eliminate a player. They are so fun to play.

I’m Vivian Saliba, poker pro and 888poker ambassador, and here are 5 tips to help you adjust to Mystery Bounty Tournaments: 

1- Preserve Your Stack

Stack preservation can be very important in Mystery Bounty tournaments. The prize pool is divided in two. Half goes to the general prize pool and the other half to the bounties. For this reason, having a wealthy stack when the bounties kick in can generate a lot of value. 

You might want to approach some spots in a more conservative way when close to the bounties stage in order to preserve your stack. A big stack lets you cover most of the other players and with that have the chance to eliminate them and win the mystery bounty prize. 

You may want to avoid going to battle against another big stacks. And don’t make marginally profitable plays that can compromise a big chunk of your chips. 

Also you can exclude the bottom of your range when calling all-ins or even jamming yourself. 

2- Categorise Your Opponents

Being able to categorize your opponents is key in Mystery Bounty tournaments. 888poker has an extensive MB tournament offering, every single day. After playing many of these, I realized that most players in these tournaments will play very aggressively and looser than in other traditional tournaments, probably because they want to build a big stack. I recommend that you bet bigger and more often with your value hands than you normally would. If you’re seeing that your opponents are playing very loose, you’re also going to want to bluff a little bit less often. Focus on making chips with your big hands! 

3- Adjust to Different Stages of the Tournament

Understanding the stages of Mystery Bounty tournaments is key to doing well in them. You have to adjust, or you’ll struggle to really succeed.

Once the bounties kick in, your fold equity will be smaller as players are incentivized to call all ins in order to win a bounty. You will often see players calling you down with hands they never would in other tournaments. 

poker table with cards and chips

For this reason, I would go all in with a tighter range than you usually would in traditional poker tournaments. Cut out some suited connectors and instead, give priority to high cards and pairs. 

4- Pay Attention to the Remaining Bounties

When you’re playing a Mystery Bounty tournament, keep your eyes on the bounty list. You need to know which bounties are still up for grabs. The average value of a bounty will vary according to those that are still available. 

Let's say all the major bounties are already gone. In this situation, the chips will probably have a higher value than a bounty. But, if all the big bounties are still in and there aren’t so many players left, it’s likely the bounty value will be higher than the chips, so don’t be focussed so much on a pay jump. 

Knowing which has more value – the bounty or the chips in play – will help you adjust and aim for the biggest payday. 

5- Don't Forget About the Prize Pool

Don’t forget when you’re playing Mystery Bounty tournaments, they do STILL have a prize pool. It’s not always JUST about winning the bounty in a hand. Don't overvalue knocking out an opponent just for the bounty. I've seen so many blunders from people compromising their entire stack, just to win a bounty and forgetting about the general prize pool. 

Most of the time you still will need a strong hand to call all ins. Don’t just gamble for the sake of it. You have to evaluate risk and reward. If you bust out with a bad hand, trying to take a bounty, you miss out on the rest of the tournament! 

Mystery Bounty events are incredibly fun and can add a new layer of excitement to poker itself. It’s important to figure out where and how to adjust, in order to do your best! And, always play responsibly. 

After making a name for herself in the summer of 2017, Brazil’s Vivian “Vivi” Saliba was welcomed to the 888poker team. That year, the 24-year-old became the youngest female to enter the World Series of Poker Main Event.