Online Satellite Tournament Strategy
The internet is overflowing with poker strategies relating to all game types and most tournaments. But after a little research, we’ve found that there is a noticeable lack of satellite poker tournament strategies available.
The fact is, a good satellite strategy is a diamond in the rough these days. While there is a multitude of online poker players, who have discovered the extreme profitability of satellites tournaments, the majority of poker tournament fans are deterred from satellites. They don’t consider them to be a good investment, therefore seek out other tournament types where instant gratification is the dominating factor.
Satellite Tournaments Explained
As you may well know, a satellite tournament is one that awards a seat in a bigger tournament, rather than an actual cash prize. The total prize and structure may depend on the kind of player base and casino software the room has.
Satellite Tournament Potential
You may even have to finish high enough in a series of satellites to get your hands on any money. However, by climbing the satellite ladder, the entry cost is phenomenally low, while the payoff can be astounding.
Satellites to Live Events
It seems every online poker room is offering satellites to bigger online poker tournaments, but the largest sites also host live event satellites.
These can catapult an online poker player into a seat at a major live poker tournament, like the World Series of Poker. In fact, in 2005, PokerStars was responsible for sending near 20% of the entire field to the WSOP.
For this satellite strategy, we’ll be focusing on a series-driven style of tournaments. The bigger the ultimate prize is, the more satellites you may need to win to reach your goal.
A WSOP satellite, for instance, may have anywhere from 6 to 10 stages of satellites, each level a little more expensive than the last.
The first few satellites you may be competing in is known as “Early Stages.”. The “Middle Stages” are the next steps in the satellite series, while the “Ultimate Prize” section refers to the final satellite, qualifying players for the bigger event prize package.
The action in satellite tournaments is a lot looser and relatively easy to overcome, especially when you compare it to that of the bigger event you’re trying to win your way into. If the satellite buy-in is $10, and direct entry is $50, you have five attempts to finish high enough to win that seat. It’s also a great experience for future satellites.
As we said above, satellite tournaments can be very loose, especially when they buy-ins are so low. At the earliest stages of satellite tournaments, the opponents can be incredibly fishy. So long as you play a good satellite strategy, you should have no trouble finishing high enough to hit the next stage.
Against loose players, it’s a good idea to tighten up your game. When the tournament first begins, don’t play anything outside of AA or AK. A good part of the field will eliminate itself within a few hands by going all-in right off the bat.
It’s not worth taking them on without a premium starting hand. Instead, sit back and observe each player to get a good read on them. You’ll be able to put them on a specific range of hands later on.
Continue playing a relatively tight game. All you need to do is finish high enough to be in the payout structure. Every qualifying finisher gets the same prize, so finishing 1st is not required. When you add up all the buy-ins, however, many seats it covers into the next satellite stage is how many finishers will move on.
As you reach the middle stages of satellite tournaments, the field won’t be so easy to dominate. In the beginning, stick to a very tight strategy to avoid the all-in bets of any loose competitors. You can’t determine their hand range at this point so that they could be holding AA or KK just as easily as 99 or KQo.
Play Your Position
After about an hour, the loose players should be either gone or sitting pretty with high stacks. The game becomes straight poker, requiring a straight strategy. Batten down the hatches, roll up your sleeves and use a standard poker strategy.
Play your position, steal blinds when possible and stay aware of your table presence. When you’re representing good hands, players are more inclined to fear you, allowing you to pull off more lucrative delayed bluff (the “float” move).
You may need to take a few more risks here than you did in the early stages of your satellite strategy. If you remain too tight, the steadily increasing blinds could eventually pick you off. Try to get a good read on your opponents so you can take advantage of their common behavior and starting hand range. Again, it is only required to finish anywhere in the prize structure to hit the final stages of the satellites.
The Ultimate Prize
This is it – the last stage of the satellite tournament series, also known as the qualifier. Winning this tournament gets you the ultimate prize you’ve been working towards, and as you may have expected, it won’t be easy. This satellite will be riddled with tough, experienced online poker players.
Pull Out All the Stops
At this point, start using every trick in the book to keep your opponents on their toes. Do not stick to a single poker strategy, but rather mix it up. Confusing your opponents is one of the greatest psychological moves you can make, provoking fear and intimidation.
Stay active in the game no matter how large or small your stack becomes. Some poker players get a large stack, and they become too comfortable, deciding not to play many hands at all.
They’ll get a premium starter eventually, right? That’s simply not always the case and gives other players a chance to take advantage of your tightness, chipping away at your stack little by little.
Play Like the Pros
Even as the low stack, you can’t become too passive. Take all opportunities for what they are worth. Look at today’s most recognized poker pros. They did not get where they are by sitting idle. Aggression and risk-taking are key factors in winning the ultimate prize!
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