PokerStars Introduces Knockout Poker Format

It seems that online poker rooms are coming up with new game variations all the time, particularly ones targeted towards recreational players. PokerStars is once again one of those poker rooms, launching “PokerStars Knockout Poker,” a bounty tournament format that right now is exclusive to PokerStars. Should it succeed, it would not be surprising if other rooms start their own version with a tweak or two and a different name.

The concept is fairly simple, especially for players familiar with bounty tournaments. In Knockout Poker tournaments, half of the buy-in is counted toward the regular prize pool, while half is used for bounties on every player’s head. When a player is eliminated from the tournament, the opponent who sent him to the rail receives half of his bounty, while the other half is added to the bouncer’s own bounty, making him a more lucrative target.

pokerstars knockout pokerFor example, in the $109 “Bounty Builder” Knockout Poker tournament that is about to start, $50 of each player’s buy-in will be put into the prize pool ($70,000 is guaranteed), $50 will be the starting bounty on each player’s head, and $9 is the fee that goes to the house. If Player A eliminates Player B on the first hand (just saying the first hand to remove the possibility of anyone having earned any bounties yet), Player A receives $25 and has the other $25 added to his own bounty. Thus, Player A’s new bounty of $50 shines a spotlight on him.

The idea behind Knockout Poker is most likely to appeal to recreational players in a few ways. First, the ability to profit in a tournament without actually “cashing,” should be attractive. Now, there  is a good chance that someone who knocks out enough players out to turn a profit with only bounties will reach the good side of the money bubble, but someone who eliminates players whenever they are very short stacks won’t be building up a stack quickly from those knockouts, so the bounties will be a great help.

Second, PokerStars expects these Knockout Poker tournaments will be conducted faster than regular tournaments. It is a logical premise – players will be more eager to put each other all-in because of the bounties, thus causing eliminations to come more rapidly. Those who want to have the fun of a big tournament but don’t fancy spending all day at the computer might like this sort of thing (not that a tourney with 1,000-plus people in it won’t take a while, but it will likely go by quickly than a normal tournament). And third, a Knockout Poker tournament could be just plain more exciting than a standard one. Immediate monetary rewards for knockouts and more aggressive play just makes it more fun for a lot of people.

According to a press release from PokerStars and something that is evident in the poker lobby, the game formats for Knockout Poker at the outset will be:

36-player hyper-turbo Sit-and-Go’s with $1 and $5 buy-ins
24-player hyper-turbo Sit-and-Go’s with $10 buy-in
6-player hyper-turbo Sit-and-Go’s with $1.50, $3.50, and $7 buy-ins
Scheduled multi-table tournaments will be mixed in with existing knockout tourneys

To celebrate the launch of Knockout Poker, PokerStars is also running a promotion from today through May 12th. It is nothing tremendous, but it is something and is worth participating in if someone is going to play Knockout Poker, anyway.

Players can complete Daily Challenges, which require them to knockout four or more players in Knockout Poker Sit-and-Go tournaments. Not all in one tournament, necessarily, but in sum total across as many tourneys as it takes. The prize for accomplishing this is a seat in a $10,000 All-in Shootout tournament. In all-in tournaments, everyone is automatically put all-in pre-flop on every hand, so these competitions finish up very quickly. Players will be automatically registered and don’t even have to be logged on to participate.

The Weekly Challenge is similar, requiring twelve knockouts over the course of a week. This one awards a ticket for a $50,000 added multi-table tournament. That tournament is not an all-in tourney, so players actually need to show up and play.

As part of the marketing for Knockout Poker, PokerStars polled a random selection of real money players from Brazil, Canada, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom (1,195 responded), asking them which celebrity from a given list they would most like to knock out of a poker tournament.

Daniel Negreanu, the face of PokerStars, was the runaway winner of the poll, with 34 percent of respondents saying they would like to send him to the rail. Phil Hellmuth was second at 25 percent and Phil Ivey was third at 13 percent. Rounding out the list were Chris Moneymaker (7 percent), Dan Bilzerian (6 percent), Liv Boeree (5 percent), Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier (4 percent), Howard Lederer (3 percent), and Jason Somerville (2 percent).

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