Entering big buy-in poker tournaments through satellites

One thing that appeals to every aspiring poker player is to win big in a major tournament. The only problem is that those tournaments usually have buy-ins that are out of reach for most players. But there is a way to solve the problem of insufficient funds: the satellites!

Satellite tournaments are qualifier tournaments feeding to a main event. Sometimes, you will find multiple level satellites: let's say, you play satellite #1, with a $10 buy-in, which awards the winner(s) with a ticket for the next stage satellite (which has a value of $100). The final tournament then awards the winner(s) with a seat at the main event (which, for example, may have a $1000 buy-in).

Through this system of feeder tournaments, players have a shot at participating in major tournaments (live ones as well as online poker tournaments), without having to actually pay the big buy-ins out of pocket.

Best satellite poker tournaments

In my opinion, the best satellites are the ones that offer multiple tickets for the next stage tournament. For example: The satellite buy-in is $10, the poker room guarantees 5 seats for the next level sat (worth $100 each). That means that you do not have to win the tournament - all it takes is to somehow sneak in to the last 5 players standing! If you have patience, play tight and disciplined poker, you have an excellent chance of winning.

Pokerstars stands out when it comes to big tournaments and satellites. Especially the various live tournament series like EPT, LAPT, APT have a vast number of online satellites feeding into them. But you can qualify online for the big online events as well, like the Sunday Million online tourney and most of the other major online events. Click here to check out Pokerstars and their great tournament schedule!

Buy-Ins start with very low amounts and you can pick any stage that your bankroll allows (although personally, I think you should not play any events lower that $5 buy-in because otherwise you will spend hours and hours trying to get into the main events).

If you are going to try and get in to a live event, you need to check whether you are playing for a "buy-in only" or "package" prize! In case you win a package, the prize includes hotel expenses and usually a fixed amount for travel expenses. With a "buy-in only" or "seat only" prize, you will have to cover your expenses by yourself. If you are trying to qualify for a live event that happens to be held near to your residence, registering for a "seat only" sat would, of course, make more sense.

Strategy for satellite poker tournaments

The overall strategy has to be different from other tournaments, especially if the satellites awards multiple seats. In such a tourney, you have to play in "survival mode" - avoid close decisions, avoid big pots unless you have a big hand. At the same time, try to take advantage of situations where you know that the other players are not willing to risk too many of their chips, especially in the final phase of the satellite tournament (close to the "bubble").

Patience and discipline are key to your success in satellite tournaments!