Poker Satellite Strategy

Satellites are tournaments that when won, give players a ticket into a bigger buy-in tournament. These tournaments have become very popular in recent years since No Limit Hold Em has become so popular. Since No Limit Hold Em is marked by events such as the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour, new players naturally want to play in these events too. However, since the buy-in for the big events usually range somewhere between $2,000 and a whopping $10,000, players cannot afford to play in the events unless they have a $1,000,000+ bankroll, which is extremely rare.

Satellites, however, offer players the chance to invest very little, sometimes as small as $500 to win entry into a $10,000 tournament. It is not hard to see why satellite tournaments have become so popular. The one thing that players fail to do is adjust to satellite tournament strategy. Players simply go and play the satellite as they would any other Multi-Table tournament. This, of course, is dead wrong. Players must make many adjustments.


The goal of a multi-table tournament is to build a stack a come in first place. The goal of a satellite is to survive. When play is nearing the bubble, there are going to be players with huge stacks, players with very small stacks and few in between.

Imagine the buy-in is $500 and the top 10 players win $10,000 seats. The player in second place is on the big blind and the player in first place is on the small blind. Everyone folds to the small blind, who puts the big blind (second place stack) all-in. The Big Blind looks down at (AK). Should he call? Not only should he not call with AK, he probably should not even call with AA.

He is certain to win a $10,000 seat, so there is no point of risking his life. The other main strategy adjustment is never to call pre-flop deep in a satellite. Being the aggressor is worth so much more in satellites. Calling off chips in satellites is always wrong. Now imagine there are 12 players left and a player has the biggest stack. How should he play? He can literally raise every hand and expect to win 90% of them. All of the other stacks are simply trying to survive and do not want to risk there lives unless they absolutely have to. As well, why would they want to mess with the one stack that can afford to gamble and bust them?

Great players must learn to adapt and use strategy adjustments deep in satellites to ensure they win their seats.