Satellites are tournaments poker rooms set up to allow players to gain entrance to their bigger buy-in events for a much lower cost. The buy-in of the bigger event is divided by the buy-in of the satellite to find how many seats will be awarded relative to the number of satellite buy-ins. For example if you are playing in a $5 satellite tournament to a $50 buy-in event, 1 in every 10 players will win a seat. Satellites are a great alternative to players looking to play in buy-in tournaments that are out of their price range, but they can also be very profitable tournaments to those players who understand their structure.
Satellite tournaments are fundamentally different than normal multi-table tournaments because there is no difference in the prize between all the seats that cash. This difference changes some aspects of your strategy, which we will outline below:
See a lot of flops early on – In general satellite tournaments have more fish than regular tournaments. Some more advanced players just don’t see satellites as a good use of their time. For this reason it is good to see a lot of cheap flops early in the tournament and try to make a hand and get the fish to call you. That being said, do not waste your chips, but make calls from good positions when you are confident you won’t get raised. It is much easier to have success in satellite tournaments when you accumulate chips early on.
Avoid coin flip situations early – You should be trying to find spots to get your chips in when you are very confident you have the best hand. Coin flip situations are not what you are interested in because the value of your starting stack is of a greater value than half of a doubled up stack in satellite tournaments. This is true because the prizes in these tournaments are all equal, so your main goal should be staying alive.
Late tournament big stack play – If you find yourself in a good position late in a satellite tournament you should try to avoid confrontation with other big stacks. There is no need to risk your chips when the prize you will receive by continuing to build your stack is the same as that which you will receive by folding until the finish. An example would be if you are in 4 th out of 26 th position in a satellite tournament that awards 20 seats and you are dealt QQ. You are in early position so you make a small raise and the chip leader makes a big reraise out of the big blind. Since you have plenty of chips and only 6 more players need to bust for you to win your seat there is no need to get more involved in this pot. Just hold on to the chips you have and wait out the remaining 6 busts.
Late tournament short stack play –If you happen to be one of the short stacks late in the tournament and you need to win chips the best place to start would be attacking the medium to large stacks. These are the players who are in a position to cash in the tournament, but cannot risk losing chips. You should be coming over top of their blinds from late position every chance you get. The chances are they will only call you with a monster hand, so it is worth it trying to steal their blinds, which are likely very big by this point. I would stay away from the gigantic chip leaders that are just looking to end the tournament because they are in no real danger even if they double you up, as well as the other short stacks who are in the same position as you.
PokerStars offers players the best satellite tournaments in the online poker world. If you aren't a member of PokerStars visit the PokerStars marketing code page for information on how to receive a free $50 bonus.