As you scan the lobby for different satellite formats, it makes sense to lean towards any formats that play to your strengths. If you play a lot of small field or one table sit and goes, then a similar style satellite with a ticket to the winner may be a good fit. If you're experienced and comfortable with hyper-turbos, pick some of the hyper-turbo satellites to try. If 'winner takes all' formats are your strong suit, really small buy-ins with 1 seat and are a nice fit. And if you like large fields with a large number of seats being awarded, then the mega-satellites will be right up your alley. There will be slower speeds, turbos, and hypers of all sorts. If you find yourself unsure of what format might suit you best, then go with the one that is the most comfortable to you in terms of blind escalation and speed, be it slow or fast, so you're as much in your comfort zone as possible.
Once you've picked your satellites of choice, here are some general tips for how to proceed to maximize your chances of winning a seat:
Early in the satelliteAt this stage it plays just like a regular pay structure MTT. We will try to accumulate chips by getting reads on our table, and working out strategies to exploit them. Try and pay attention to what people are entering the pot with when hands get shown down. What did they limp with? Raise with? Call a raise? Reads do not need to be statistically based.
When you see a player limp in from early position, call a raise from a late position player, check/call down on a board of KT673 and show 65o, it only requires this sample size of this one hand to know they are a very loose/passive calling station. Checkmark, now we know how to exploit them… we will value bet them more often and larger when we have the goods, and not try to bluff them when we don't. Pay close attention during these early stages when the stacks are deeper and you'll do a better job of finding spots to accumulate chips (or not lose them in spots where others might).
Middle stagesNow we should have some reads, have hopefully chipped up a bit, and can really work on exploiting opponents. People that open loose, 3-bet them more liberally. Players are notoriously bad at defending against 3-bets, especially out of position. If you've seen someone open 97s from UTG, they are way too wide to defend vs. your 3-bets adequately. Now is really the time to chip up for the end game. The loose players will mostly be shorter stacked or gone, and the tight players will be blinding down waiting for their premiums. The selectively aggressive player exploiting reads will have a big edge at this stage.
Late stagesThis will vary depending on what kind of format you're in and how many seats are being awarded. If it's one ticket on top, this will be at the final table and the player who is aggressive without fear will tend to have the bigger edge as players are scared to bust without premium hands. Picking up the blinds and antes roughly 3 times every couple of orbits will help you to chip up nicely. If there are lots of seats, like a mega satellite with 50 tickets, there will often be a few players who just don't understand the bubble play and will make significant mistakes. At this point, based on your own stack size:
- If we're short, people will be trying to wait us out to be blinded all in. Don't be afraid to be aggressive while you still have some fold equity. How much fold equity you have will be largely dependent on stack sizes. For example, if it folds to you on the button and you have a 7 big blind stack, a shove will get through the blinds at a high frequency if they are sitting on 13 and 12 bigs respectively because they have stacks that can afford to wait out shorter stacks at the bubble. And if they call you and lose, THEY become the short stack. If we are shoving our 7bb into a 58bb stack, they can obviously call more liberally to try and bust us because the damage to their stack doesn't jeopardize their position should they lose.
- If we're deep, the satellite bubble is our oyster. We can min-raise preflop into medium stacks with any 2 cards and collect the blinds and antes relentlessly, just folding on the rare occasion they shove. ICM and the bubble situation dictate they should fold incredibly tight. We can call off short stacks to try and bust them without risk to our chip position. The one critical thing to avoid at this stage is a big confrontation with another big stack. Right now, our big stack assures us of a ticket to the target event… the only thing that truly threatens that ticket is losing most or all of our chips to another big stack. While the big stacks should steal small pots from medium stacks, they should avoid confrontations with each other like the plague.
- If we are medium stacked, this is where we have to walk the wire. Are there enough super short stacks that we can wait for them to blind all in? Then patience is prudent. If this may be unlikely, then we have 2 moves to look for to try and chip: 1) a premium hand, or 2) other medium stacks who feel they can wait out the short stacks but would be critically damaged by calling us and losing. They simply have no choice but to fold without a monster hand.
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