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Kick-Off on PokerStars – Poker Strategy, Rules & Rake


  1. What is Kick-Off?
  2. Rake
  3. The bounty rules
  4. Bounty multiplies and probabilities
  5. Kick-Off tournaments pokerstrategy
  6. Analyzing Kick-Off hands
  7. Practicing Kick-Off Poker Strategy in MTT Coach

What is Kick-Off?

Kick-Off is the new poker format available on PokerStars. Behind tricky definitions and obscure phrases like "sprint" or "finish line" hides a 4-way fast-paced PKO (Progressive Knockout) tournament, with large blinds, the majority of hands played at the push/fold stage, and no classic prize pool.

All prizes are given for eliminations of other players, so the bounty prize pool is equal to the entire Kick-Off prize pool.


There are following buy-in options available:
$1, $2, $5, $12, $25.


All Kick-Off tournaments have a 10% rake. This sounds big, but due to the rules as long as you keep winning your 4-way "races" you advance further without paying rake so the rake is paid for the course of several tournaments which may make these tournaments possible to beat to a professional player which is especially true at lower stakes.

Whether or not a 10% rake can be beaten at $25 or $60 stakes is not obvious and will depend on the number of weaker players entering these limits.

The bounty rules

There are two types of bounty rules.

If the "buy-in" is less than $12 and the average bounty value is less than $10.80 (your bounty value will be $10.80 in $12 tournament because of 10% rake) after eliminating an opponent, you will get 50% of their bounty value added to your bounty value and 25% + a lottery based percentage immediate bounty.

With the expected value of the immediate bounty in mind, these are played just like all other PKO tournaments with the standard 50/50 immediate/add-for-head ratio.

If the average bounty at the start of the tournament is more than $10.80, players get 60% added to their bounty and 20% + a lottery based percentage immediate bounty.

So for Kick-Off tournaments of up to $12, 25% of the prize pool goes to lottery or jackpot bounty pool, and for tournaments with "buy-in" more than $12 20% of the prize pool goes to the lottery bounty pool.

Note that while the immediate reward is randomized, the expected value of busting someone is 50% in $12 or less tournaments and 40% in tournaments with a bounty value greater than $10.80.

Bounty multiplies and probabilities

For tournaments with $10.80 or less average bounty:

Multiplier Example for a $0.30 prize Frequency %
1 $0.30 259,849 in 1,000,000
1.5 $0.45 329,999 in 1,000,000
2 $0.60 163,999 in 1,000,000
2.5 $0.75 69,918 in 1,000,000
3 $0.90 48,985 in 1,000,000
3.5 $1.05 39,075 in 1,000,000
4 $1.20 32,615 in 1,000,000
4.5 $1.35 24,770 in 1,000,000
5 $1.50 13,375 in 1,000,000
6 $1.80 9,850 in 1,000,000
7 $2.10 3,196 in 1,000,000
8 $2.40 2,283 in 1,000,000
9 $2.70 1,304 in 1,000,000
10 $3.00 587 in 1,000,000
100 $30.00 130 in 1,000,000
300 $90.00 65 in 1,000,000

For tournaments with $10.81 or more average bounty:

Multiplier Example for a $20 prize Frequency %
1 $10 398,007 in 1,000,000
1.5 $15 260,000 in 1,000,000
2 $20 136,000 in 1,000,000
2.5 $25 53,000 in 1,000,000
3 $30 46,000 in 1,000,000
3.5 $35 32,000 in 1,000,000
4 $40 27,217 in 1,000,000
4.5 $45 20,620 in 1,000,000
5 $50 12,656 in 1,000,000
6 $60 8,215 in 1,000,000
7 $70 2,665 in 1,000,000
8 $80 1,900 in 1,000,000
9 $90 1,090 in 1,000,000
10 $100 490 in 1,000,000
25 $250 108 in 1,000,000
6,000 $60,000 32 in 1,000,000

Kick-Off tournaments poker strategy

With the fast paced nature of these tournaments and a lot of push/fold preflop action, ICMIZER with its TrueBounty model for PKO tournaments is the right tool to craft a winning poker strategy for winning the sprint.

You can review Kick-Off tournaments hands in ICMIZER and also practicing poker strategy in MTT Coach!

Analyzing Kick-Off hands

To analyze the Kick-Off tournament’s hand open the ICMIZER tournament selector window and select from the list the Kick-Off 4-max tournament structure.


Then set up the hand history or click on the "Paste hand history" button if you copied a hand before.

If you want to review a few hands or the whole tournament, click on the "Auto-analyze hands" button. Load hands or the tournament hand history file and select from the list the Kick-Off 4-max tournament structure.


Then click the “Load them” button.


The loading of hands to the server will begin, and analysis then. The whole complex and time-consuming analysis process perform in the ICMIZER cloud without overloading your computer. ICMIZER 3 revises hands in seconds with the new, improved engine.


Practicing Kick-Off Poker Strategy in MTT Coach

To practice the Kick-Off poker strategy in MTT Coach open the MTT Coach tab and choose from the list the Kick-Off 4-max tournament. You can select from:

  • PokerStars $1 Kick-Off 4-max Hyper PKO
  • PokerStars $2 Kick-Off 4-max Hyper PKO
  • PokerStars $5 Kick-Off 4-max Hyper PKO
  • PokerStars $12 Kick-Off 4-max Hyper PKO


Then MTT Coach will ask you 15 starting questions to quickly test your skills to adapt initial question difficulty to your level for the selected tournament type.



After that, you are able to train your skills in different Push/Fold contexts, based on:

  • How many players are left at the table
  • The relative stack size: small, average or large
  • The situation: open push or calling an all-in

Also, you can view a detailed assessment of your skills to decide what areas to focus on next.


ICMIZER 3 has detailed MTT Coach training settings, including blind level, positions, number of players at the table for all available tournament types. You can customize your training for getting more advantages in practicing Kick-Off tournaments. Click on the "Custom Quiz" button:


Set your training and start!


Kick-Off on PokerStars – Poker Strategy, Rules & Rake
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