Satellite Poker Tournaments
Satellite poker tournaments have become increasingly more significant as the number of players have increased over the years. The reason for this is because many of the high priced poker tournaments now have online and live satellites in which to gain entry. Only a few years ago there were merely a couple of hundred players in the high stakes events. Now those numbers continue to grow due to the influx of online qualifiers via satellite.
Another reason why satellite poker tournaments are so popular is because they are inexpensive. Typically a satellite tournament will cost 10% of the buy-in for that particular poker tournament. This means that you are getting a tremendous bargain whether you are in a multi-table satellite or a single table satellite. Satellites also change your approach to the game as well. The idea of survival is even more apparent in these kinds of scenarios than most.
Lastly, satellite poker tournaments are a tremendous way to help you manage your bankroll. They also have the potential to have a huge impact on your bankroll should you go on to win the big tournament. Just ask Chris Moneymaker.
Now that we have explained the benefits to playing satellites I am going to go more in-depth in how you should approach them to maximize your edge.
Single Table Satellites
Single table satellites are just that, they are one table satellites with 9 or 10 players that usually pay 1 or 2 seats into the main event. This means that you are going to see some extremely aggressive play and you need to play these tournaments to win them. There is definitely an approach to playing and winning these kinds of satellites. The typical poker strategy you may use in a normal poker tournament does not apply here. Aggression is extremely important even to the point of taking a big flush draw with 7 players or less left to position yourself to finish in one of the top two spots. I do not encourage slow play in these tournaments for obvious reasons. You are not going to be the only one that is hungry for a shot at the big money.
Tighten up early and allow other players to bounce around and get knocked out unless you are picking up premium hands. The real satellite play doesn’t start until things get short-handed at 6 players. Then the more astute players get more aggressive and pick up the blinds and antes if there are any. This is extremely important at this stage because the structures are usually so fast it becomes an all-in fest because the levels are only 10 minutes or less. You also need to open up your hand selection when you are short handed as well. If you are not a very good short-handed poker player then I would stay away from single table satellites. Conversely, if you are comfortable playing a fast structure with 6 or less players then you will likely do well in single tables.
Multi-table satellite poker tournaments are my favorite. Why? Because they usually pay out multiple seats into the main event and I can usually put myself in position to win one of those seats if the cards break even. Most of the larger online poker tournaments on various sites get the majority of their players by running these low cost high reward satellite poker tournaments.
The approach taken in these kinds of poker tournaments is a little different than in a single table format. First, you do not have to “win” the tournament and that takes a certain amount of pressure off. However, this does not mean that you can be lackadaisical in your approach. You still need to accumulate chips as the tournament progresses. Unless you have a monster stack with only 1 or 2 players left before winning your seat you are going to need to be smart.
My approach to these kinds of tournaments is a little different. Instead of laying back and waiting to open up as in single tables I prefer to play a lot of hands early in hopes of accumulating lots of chips. Once I do so and hit the break with a better than average stack I will usually slow down a bit unless my table is so passive that it would be detrimental to do so. I also try to stay away from players that can seriously hurt me unless I have the nuts. Again, the idea here is to get the seat and not necessarily to win the poker tournament.
Ultimately, you have to find the platform that fits your game best.
Curtis Mayfield III