Global online poker giant *PokerStars is preparing to launch its take on Mystery Bounty tournaments, the new MTT knockout format where players win random prizes when they knock out another player, pokerfuse can reveal.
It is unknown when the operator will launch the new format and into which markets first. As seen in other new developments, it may trial in smaller European markets before a global rollout. Just how PokerStars will address perceived issues with offering the format online remains to be seen.
Mystery bounty tournaments (MBT) have been growing in popularity in poker in the last few years. Initially spread in live poker tournaments — it has become a very popular event at the World Series of Poker — it is also growing online. GGPoker and 888poker are among those that spread it online in Europe; in the United States, WSOP offers it in Michigan and Pennsylvania.
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How Mystery Bounty Tournaments Work
The Mystery Bounty tournament offers a unique twist by concealing each player’s bounty, only revealing it once they’re knocked out — adding an extra layer of excitement and strategy to the game. Mystery Bounty takes inspiration from the traditional bounty tournament, with half of the buy-in going toward the bounty pool, but it adds an element of intrigue and surprise. In a standard bounty tournament, players have a bounty on their heads, which is a cash reward for eliminating them from the tournament. In contrast, the Mystery Bounty tournament offers a unique twist by concealing each player’s bounty, only revealing it once they’re knocked out — adding an extra layer of excitement and strategy to the game.
The tournament is typically structured into the first and second stages. The first or early stage is played as a conventional tournament, and no bounties are involved. The players’ goal should be to reach the second stage, which commences once the bubble bursts. This is the stage where the bounties come into play.
What sets the Mystery Bounty tournaments apart is the secrecy surrounding the bounties. Each player’s bounty remains unknown to all until their opponent is eliminated from the tournament. The bounty value is then revealed to the player in an envelope, heightening the suspense and intrigue.
With each tournament ensuring that at least one player bags the largest bounty, prizes can range anywhere from $10,000 to a staggering million dollars, depending on the tournament’s buy-in. Other bounties throughout the event can also vary significantly, ranging from 2x the buy-in to even a hundred times the buy-in.
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PokerStars’ Path to Mystery Bounties
PokerStars’ approach to adopting the Mystery Bounty format remains uncertain. Whether it will stick to the existing structure, or will it introduce its own unique twist? In a pokerfuse podcast held late last year, Chris Straghalis, the Director of Online Poker Experience at PokerStars, shed light on the challenges associated with this format.
“[Mystery Bounty] has some challenges that, to me, I think you want to address those challenges before you can make it something that’s more than just what’s being used as today, which is more of a one-off type of a thing,” said Straghalis.
He pointed out that the primary issue lies in the timing of when players get to experience the Mystery Bounty aspect. In the current implementation used elsewhere, participants must already be in the money, making it frustrating for players to wait until approximately 85% of the field is eliminated, and they find themselves in the final 15% to enjoy the full benefits of the Mystery Bounty feature.
Straghalis emphasized the importance of overcoming these challenges to make the Mystery Bounty format more enticing and accessible for players. He hinted that PokerStars might be working on a solution to make the experience more engaging and rewarding throughout the entirety of the tournament.
It remains to be seen how PokerStars will address these concerns and if they will devise their own innovative take on the Mystery Bounty format. But the graphics files spotted by pokerfuse suggest that PokerStars will add a touch of polish to the Mystery Bounty tournaments with visually appealing animations and sound effects.
The animations will involve a case; players will receive envelopes each time they knock out an opponent. Additionally, players may have the option to redeem envelopes at any stage, adding a tactical element.
The operator could likely be just weeks away from introducing the flourishing Mystery Bounty Tournaments.