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Tournament Poker Satellite Strategies

3,863 Views on 21/11/19

Poker tournament satellites are one of the last niches in the game that are not totally saturated with regs

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Poker tournament satellites are one of the last niches in the game that are not totally saturated with regs. They are also a great place to get your poker fix with the chance of winning a ticket that allows you to play in a tournament that is usually too big for your bankroll.

Online, they can also serve as your main game if you wish, because most poker rooms allow you to sell the value of the ticket back for tournament money that can be used to enter run of the mill events. Many pros even use this system as they're main game.

What Is a Satellite Tournament

For those new to the game, a satellite tournament is a tournament where the prize is a seat to a bigger value event. Either that, or a ticket to the next step in a chain of satellite tournaments.

Depending on how many entrants there are, there may be a single seat on offer, or quite a few.

Differences in Strategy

The biggest difference between normal tournaments and satellite is that you either win everything or nothing in a satellite. This single point is why the game plays so differently. 

The difference between a min cash and bubbling in minimal in a regular tournament. Mostly you will just pick up what you used to buy-in. Bubbling in a satellite is a complete disaster, and there is no reward for finishing the event with the biggest stack compared to those who just creep over the line.

As the bubble approaches in a satellite, all thoughts of “winning” the event must be forgotten. You have a single goal and so must play much more cautiously than in a normal event. Marginal situations and straight out coin flips with should be avoided when you have a decent stack.

An example could be when you are chip leader and facing an open jam from second place. If you call and lose your chances of winning a seat have been crippled. This means that hands as strong as AK can be confidently folded while the short stacks sort themselves out.

In a situation where there are a handful of players with less than five big blinds and you have a big stack, it can even be correct to fold pocket aces.

Aces are an 81% favourite over another pocket pair, but 19% is still plenty of equity meaning you lose almost one fifth of the time.

Cyclones Blitz Satellites

Americas CardRoom have come up with a new innovative tournament satellite format. Played in the style of ‘fast fold’ poker, players must grind from around 1,000 starting chips up to 5,000 to reach the next step.

There are seven steps in total, with the final step paying out a ticket for the $6 Million Venom tournament.

Players will be asking themselves what is the correct strategy for this new format, and as ever there are a few tips and tricks to smooth the way.

  • Tight is right - Gambling to give yourself a good start in chips is rarely the best strategy because you will pay too much in entry fees. A tight strategy until you have reads will pay dividends in terms of how much value you can accrue. 
  • Know your opponent - In these games you will meet players trying all kinds of strategies. You must quickly deduce who is playing fit or fold and who is gambling without a care.
  • FOR THE WIN option - ACR have given players the chance to pay the difference depending on how large their stack is. If you are a skilled player you might prefer to keep playing with a large stack. Small stacks come with a lot more variance. On the other hand, if you embrace the gamble and enjoy the swings then paying to move to the next step might be a preferable strategy.
  • No bubble - Because of the absence of any bubble, your strategy must be tailored around the effective stacks. You should always be aware of any short stacks left to act pre flop that might be prepared to gamble with you. Repeatedly calling off with marginal hands will quickly deplete your chip stack, harming your chances of moving up.

Launching exclusively for qualification to the $6 Million Venom Tournament, this format will almost certainly catch on across all poker rooms soon. This is your opportunity to get a head of the learning curve before everyone else learns the correct strategies.

All information regarding the Cyclones Blitz Satellites can be found here


Mark Patrickson

Mark Patrickson is a professional cash game player grinding stakes up to 100nl 6 Max NL Hold'em13 years experience of poker, across MTT SnG and cash, FL PL NL.Currently living in South East Asia and trying to make it back to mid-stakes befo ... Read More

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