Satellites have begun on most online poker sites for this year's $10,000 World Series of Poker Main Event.
If you'd like to make it to Vegas for the big show this year, there are countless ways to qualify. You can play multi-table tournaments or step SNGs. You can play freerolls or real-money tournaments. You can buy-in for $2 or $2,000.
I've had a great deal of success in satellites during my career, and they were very helpful early on when I couldn't afford to buy into the $5k and $10k events.
I've won over $250k in satellites, including multiple packages for the World Series of Poker, Aussie Millions, WPT, and seven seats to the 2008 PCA in the Bahamas (soooooo close to getting my own table).
That is why I'd like to give a few tips on how to succeed in these tournaments. I'd like to focus on large multi-table satellites where many seats are awarded. Since there are multiple winners, these tournaments tend to require less luck than winner-take-all satellites.
It's also important to remember that bankroll requirements are much different for satellites as opposed to regular multi-table tournaments. Even when you win a satellite, you still need to finish in the money in the tournament you've won entry to receive any return on your investment.
Therefore, you should think of satellites as more of a long-shot parlay than a normal tournament and choose your limit accordingly. Fortunately, all online sites offer low-stakes super-satellites into their respective satellites.
The golden rule for proper satellite play can be summed up by a rhyme I read so long ago I can't even remember who wrote it: "Tight is right in a satellite." A key concept to remember is that, unlike in a normal tournament, there is no need to accumulate all of the chips in play to win a satellite.
Therefore, it pays to sit back and play patiently while looking for great spots to double up. Fortunately, most satellites are well-structured and allow for a ton of play. Sometimes, you'll be able to coast to the win just by picking up big hands in the right situations.
Of course, sometimes the poker gods forget that patience is a virtue that should be rewarded. Never fear... when this happens, there is a backup plan.
As the tournament progresses many players (correctly) tend to tighten up significantly. Some will do it because they have enough chips to win a seat. Others will be clutching their short stack, waiting for a big hand to double up with. Either way, identify and exploit these opponents by attacking their blinds with a wide range of hands.
Still other players will have average stacks and be attempting the same strategy I just mentioned. Identify these players and exploit them by re-raising their late position raises with a wide range of hands. They should be folding all but the absolute strongest starting hands.
For a reasonable estimate of the number of chips needed to win a seat, calculate the total number of chips in play and divide it by the number of seats to be awarded. Then multiply this number by 0.75.
This will account for the presence of very large stacks at the end of the tournament, which helps you squeak into the winner's circle with less than the average chip count.
Once you have enough chips to win a seat, you basically want to go into cruise control. Try to pick up a round of blinds an orbit to break even while the short-stacked players desperately try to hang around as you approach the bubble.
It is extremely important to not get involved in any big pots once you have enough chips to win a seat, regardless of your holdings. That's right... if you have enough chips to win a seat according to the formula above, you should be willing to fold pocket aces pre-flop.
Good luck in your satellites, and hopefully I'll see you in Vegas while we battle for millions!
-- Matt Stout
"All In At 420"
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