Satellite Tournament Strategy

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Satellite Tournament Strategy

Satellite tournaments are the gloss and finish of online poker.  Satellites offer thousands of cheap seats to major events each year that bring fresh new faces and wildcard champions into our TV screens. Both the 2003 and 2004 WSOP winners (including Chris Moneymaker) qualified to the event through satellites at PokerStars.  Nowdays, every poker room runs daily satellites to live tournaments starting from with unbeleivably low entry fees (sometimes even freerolls).  Party Poker, the former largest now 3rd biggest poker room in the world, schedules satellites to the WSOP, EPT and WPT (along with their own hybrid “steps” system and $1 satellites to the Monthly $1 Million.  Full Tilt Poker even runs their own FTOPS (Full Tilt Online Poker Series) with juicy satellites to all the major events of the year.

Best Site for Satellite Tournaments: PokerStars – $600 Bonus

PokerStars run the best range of satellites to live events including the WSOP, WPT, ETP and Aussie Millions.  Infact, both the 2004 and 2004 WSOP winners qualified to the event online through PokerStars!

Types of Satellite Tournaments

Winner Takes All Satellite: A winner-takes all satellite means only one prize or “seat” is available to the winner.  2nd or 3rd place may get their money back or a small payoff.

Low Buy-in Satellites: Satellite tournaments with a buy-in of less than $30.  In low buy-in tournaments with direct live tournament seats, the competition and numbers will be extremely high – potentially almost like lottery.  This is why the buy-ins are set so low; however it also makes the payoffs of getting lucky extremely high.

High Buy-in Satellites: Generally around $200+ for buy-in.  These tournaments are the best for high stakes/professional players; because they afford direct entry to live events at good odds (sometimes 1 out of every 20 will get a seat). Although the buy-in puts off most amateur players, these games are one of the most popular for players with deep bankrolls.  Competition level tends to be very high.

Winner Takes All Satellite Strategy

In winner-takes-all MTTs the objective has to be to come first. Online poker tournament strategy needs to be way more aggressive than normal, particularly towards the later stages.  Bad players play too conservatively with not enough hands hoping that the competition will effectively eliminate each other.  The winner of these games however are those players who accumulate chips as early as possible – taking down the dead-money flops with a monster stack worth 30-40BBs.  Winner takes all satellite MTTs are renowned with regards to the payoffs of playing aggressively. They require far more luck and volume because of the fields/one-prizes.

Low Buy-in Satellites

All I can say is that need to be extremely well stacked to get a seat in these tournaments.  In a low buy-in satellite, perhaps 1 out of 80 players will go through, which normally means you’re aim is to make it to the final table.  This requires you to get to the top places in the chip lead as early as possible in a tournament.  Everyone is aware of big chip stacks and tend to avoid challenging them.  Small stacks on the other hands are constantly shafted and targeted.  A lot of players in these games fall into the category of what I call the TAG player.  He’ll probably make it to where the “bubble” in a regular freeze out tournament will be, but from here on he’ll be disadvantaged because of all the larger stacks at this level (who played much more aggressively and riskier to get there).

High Buy-in Satellites

The same basic strategy of a low buy-in satellite tournament serves well.  The biggest change is that it’s no longer essential to get into the top 10 to get paid off –realistically players only only need to make the top 40.  This makes shooting for a prize much easier in these games statistically (albeit with far superior competition).  In all, try to keep an average/above average stack, and don’t make suicidal moves (patience is key).  If you can increase you stack size to a healthy position as the blinds and antes get big, you’re in a good position to receive prizes in these games.

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