The real trick to being successful in satellite tournaments in online poker is simply picking the right tournaments! I spent a lot of time playing on PokerStars yesterday and I played mostly satellites. In doing so, I was reminded how profitable it can be to play these tournaments, but you have to choose the right ones.
For example, stay away from the tournaments that cost something like $1.10 or $5.50 to win a $530 buy in. Usually everybody and their dog plays these, so you are in a MTT with 2,000 people all vying to win 1 or 3 seats. The odds that you are going to get beaten by a suck-out or some other bit of bad luck at some point are pretty good. Especially when you are against crummy players who don’t care about their $1.20.
What I look for is tournaments that offer a lot of seats. I also like ones with a middle-ish buy-in. Here is a good example. I was playing one that $15+$1.50 buy satellite to the USA COOP Event #1 which was a $55 rebuy tournament. So, if you win this satellite, you are $40 ahead. Not that great, right? Wrong!!!
Here is the ‘kicker’ This tournament offered 20 seats and there were about 35 players in the tournament. This is pretty close to a ‘double or nothing’ Sit n Go, except for the fact that you more than double your money.
To make a long story short, I played 5 of these satellites and ‘won’ every one of them. There were a minimum of about 30 players, and I think 1 had 46, but the bottom line is, this was easy pickins. I won $40 5 times with very little effort or risk. My strategy was simple, play tight until I hit a big hand or found a situation where I could double up. Once I had doubled up, I pretty much went into a shell and waited for everyone else to bust out.
Remember in a satellite, it doesn’t matter if you finish 1st, or in this case, 20th, you still get paid the same. There is no reason to take risks, all you have to do is make enough chips that you can hang in there until the bell rings.
Satellite tournaments are not for everybody. They do not reward a very aggressive, high risk style of play, but once you get the feel of how to play them, and also get the hang of scrolling through all the tournaments to find the good ones, they can be very instrumental in building your poker bankroll.