Poker in Print: PKO Poker Strategy (2020)


Each week here on Calvin Ayre, we look at poker in the popular form of the written word. Books have always been important to poker players, with volumes such as Doyle Brunson’s Super System paving the way for thousands of different strategy-based books that are designed to help poker players improve.

At the tail-end of 2019, we wrote about the newly-released Poker Satellite Strategy which was put together by legendary Irish poker professional Dara O’Kearney and respected poker author Barry Carter. This week, the two men released their latest tome, which promises to help players become better at playing PKO (Progressive Knockout) or Bounty tournaments.

The release of PKO Poker Strategy is timely to say the least. Not only are PKO or Bounty events getting to be more and more popular, but half the world seems to be playing online given the restrictions on live poker that have affected over 95% of the world’s poker events.

While PKO and Bounty events have grown in popularity, just like with poker satellites, there aren’t too many professionals who talk up their skill in the formats. That’s where PKO Poker Strategy comes in. The strategy is markedly different to a regular MTT (multi-table tournament), and the book does a very good job in explaining how to adjust your ranges to PKO events or to fire for a bounty. There are other factors at play in PKO or Bounty events, of course. The size of an opponent’s bounty on their head needs to dictate a change in whether you’re prepared to call, but not only that.

Should you be raising an opponent or should you fold? The answer always depends on the size of bounties and the book explores the differences between their formats and standard NLHE action really well.

Just like with their original collaboration, O’Kearney and Carter break it all down in easy to digest pieces that won’t put a chokehold on your ability to play with confidence, but more supplement the knowledge that you go into each game with. If you play a PKO – of any buy-in – between chapters, you’ll actually feel yourself getting a better understanding of the fundamental changes taking place within your poker game.

The usual points of interest in an MTT are signalled, such as the bubble, the payout jumps versus bounty jumps, and of course that crucial final table strategy that can make the biggest difference to your bottom line in time.

With expert advice from Dara O’Kearney, a genuine specialist in online tournaments who has a fantastic reputation in the industry, this book would be worth the price alone if it felt woolly, bulky or difficult to process. It isn’t any of those things, however, flowing with the same sense of acceleration and anticipation that Poker Satellite Strategy did.

As mixed game player and online and live professional Adam Owen puts it in an official review of the book, “Dara’s outlook on PKO tournaments is expectedly methodical. Knowing how wide to chase bounties is one of the most important adjustments and this book will equip you with the knowledge to work it out on the fly.”

With the use of ICM solvers, you could be forgiven for thinking that you’ll need an adept grasp of advanced mathematics to apply the new rules of playing PKO or Bounty events to your game. But you won’t – all it takes is paying attention to the regular takeaways and learning how to apply the maths to decisions that you make with a kind of ‘donkey maths’ that you can carry with you.

With dedicated sections on post-flop play, mindset adjustments and a lot more besides, it’s a great book worthy of immediate purchase for recreational and regular players alike.

Retailing at just £8.01 on Kindle, that’s under ten dollars if you’re buying from America. Either side of the Atlantic, that seems like great value when you could be winning back the price of the book in one successful PKO or Bounty tournament. Highly recommended.