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Satellite Tournament Strategy

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  • Satellite Tournament Strategy

    Congratulations to all who performed so well at the WPO satellites!

    I have stated before, and I will continue to state that I think more players should put more time into practicing their sat play here at the PSO.

    Satellites can be a cheap way to get into a bigger buy-in tourney, and can be down right profitable in their own right.

    Simple math tells us that satellites are RIDICULOUSLY more profitable than the actual live tourneys for MOST poker players. You only have to outlast 7, 8 or 9 players to make 2 to 9 times your money in a satellite (generally you will at least get your money back plus 2 times the amount of the buyin, and often times 4-5 times if you evenly chop). Look at the payouts at the WPO. They are very representative of big time poker tourneys. In the $540 NLHE tourney, you had to outlast 95% NINETY-FIVE PERCENT of the field to triple your money. Chop 3 ways and you do that in sat!

    Second, on a straight "profit per hour" it is clear that a player will do substantially better in satellites than tourneys because you will have to play at least 9-10 hours in any major tournament with 200 or more entries to make any money. Satellites take 1 to 2 hours at the most.

    Third, the variance in multis is brutal. With only 5-10% of the entrants even getting their money back (making the money) simple statistics tell us that one should not expect to make the money more than once very 10-20 tourneys. If you are lucky, maybe once every 6-10.

    But it gets worse...if you enter three tournaments and make the money in one of the tourneys you are a winner, right?!? Nope. Not unless you finish high enough that you at least triple your money in that event and most "just" in the money places either return only 50% extra or maybe double (assuming you don't win your money in a lower buy-in tourney than the one's you lost!)

    I would venture to say that there are not more than 50 players who are earning enough to make a living ($50,000 or more) year in and year out on the tourney trail after travel expenses and buy-ins unless they are being staked! A bad WSOP, alone, could easily set a player back over $30,000.

    So how do the players do it? With satellite wins, they get staked, support from outside resources, and wins in side games. The top 3 in each tourney do well, and the rest just make enough to get themselves in to the next 3,4 or 10 tourneys, where they will try to repeat.

    So, am I writing this to be a downer? Should you not play tourneys? Are they a waste of time? Yes, if you think you will make a living off them!

    ABSOLUTELY NOT if you are playing for the challenge, with money you can afford to lose. I think they are a blast, an adrenaline rush, an intellectual challenge, and just all-around fun!!!! It is great to know that you can compete with "the best in the world" at something. I can't play against Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, or Randy Johnson, but if I got the buy-in, I can belly up to the table with Berry Johnston, TJ Cloutier, David Sklansky, John Juanda, Daniel Negreaneau, and others (and I have). I have beat them a few times, they have beaten me a lot more! But I enjoyed the thrill of competition regardless.

    So why am I writing this? Because I have been able to "support" my tournament poker "habit" by winning satellites. And I encourage anybody here at the school who would like to play live tourneys to really work on your satellite play. Just LOOK at how well players here at the PSO did at the WPO in sats!

    Interested to hear the opinions of those at the WPO, but my experience has been that it is harder to consistently win sats here than it is to win them in live sats at tourneys. I think it because of all the practice you can get here at PSO! The combination of developing patience, allowing other players to eliminate each other, and developing the "feel" for how sats move from a full game -- to a few players eliminated and one or two players with bigger stacks -- to three or four left --to making sure you survive to at least second for a chance to split-- to developing your heads-up skills, can all be learned here at the school.

    I truly believe that developing your sat play is the only sensible way to consider playing a relatively full slate of live, bigger buy-in tourneys (10-20 a year, $500 buy-in or greater). Just my opinion after doing it last year. The "hobby" just becomes too expensive without the ability to defray the expenses. I have been lucky enough to place in the money in three of the last 20 tourneys I played in (but only finished 5th, 9th and 12th), and I am still a net loser in those tourneys! The only thing that has allowed me to break slightly ahead is by winning and chopping sats.

    Therefore, I for one, would like to see more discussion of situations, game theory, and successful strategies regarding sats in the Forum. If we all contribute, we will all benefit!

    Let's make it a profitable 2003!


    (Sorry about the long post)

  • #2
    So you think the PSO 1 table shootout tournaments are good practice for real world sats then?


    • #3
      I actually do. And the quality of the players at many of the sats here exceeds the quality of the players at live sats --- for sat play.

      Most live sats have 3 or 4 players who will push in with anything -- generally only one or 2 here per sat.

      I have followed the same general strategy in live sats that I use here and have had strikingly similar results.

      I have played a lot of satellites here (a borderline obsessive amount...maybe not even borderline) just to reinforce my game. Just as is in baseball and basketball I believe you can drill in "muscle memory" -- in this case the brain muscle!

      In live sats I do not have as good of a statistical sample set -- only played in 50 or so sats in my life ($50 buy-in or greater), but my results correlate closely to the Minpin Detail results.

      I know you are not generally impressed with the play of most of the PSOers, but I think I called it right when I said there are quite a few players who have positive expectation in live satellite play.

      Just my opinion



      • #4

        I definitely agree with you. Before I joined PSO, one table limit hold em sats were how I made my money playing online. While I might experiment from time to time with sats here at PSO, I have continued to do well with them using a set strategy, and that strategy paid off for me well in real life (my first time ever playing live sats), I cashed (at least got my buy in back) in 5 out of 9 sats I played in and won 3 outright, and yes PSO did prepare me well for that (although I didn't see people pushing in a lot, the play for the most part was pretty good).

        And your right the variance in multi's is much greater - I beat 90% of the field in the NLHE tourney and came away with nothing (Jay did it in two tourneys and came away from nothing, it's really tough to go that far, play that long, and come up short).



        • #5

          While planning for Tunica, my thought was to avoid the satellites,
          given their 'fast' structure ( 200 in chips, blinds 5-10 to start for the $500 events, 400 in chips, 10-25 blinds at the $1000 level); I don't really believe I perform at my best in these shootouts. Of course, I couldn't step aside for long!!

          Saturday, I played in one, got to the final three with win4win, took a shot and busted out. The same result happened Sunday- we were down to three, I raised with K-K, and the small blind moved me in, thinking he held A-K! His hand was actually K-10, and I soon wished it had indeed been A-K, when the flop came with one ten, the turn another.

          Tuesday was better, though, as I played one for the PLHE event.
          Not much to tell till it got down to four players, then I moved in with A-10 of spades and got called by A-A, taking him off when the flop came Q-J-9 and an eight followed on the river. After I broke another player, the remaining player offered to chop it, though he was up 1100-900 at the time.

          Later, I played in a $1000 sat, and as before, little happened for me till we got four-handed. I was short, moved in with K-2, was called by K-Q, and a third player mucked a K-Q. The flop came: K (!)-4-3, a rag on the turn, and a lovely deuce on the river. Still alive to fight another day!!

          After I knocked out two other players, I offered my opponent a deal at 700-400, since I had a substantial lead. After he declined, we played three more hands. No flop was seen on the first two, but after
          I raised from the small blind with Q-10 of diamonds, he moved in. After thinking, I called, to be shown J-10. No drawout came, and I had survived!

          Your idea is interesting, and you may very well be right about playing sats- to my knowledge,there are people who are professional sats players. As I think back over the last fourteen months, I've probably played about 18 sats, winning three outright and chopping twice. If I could have anything like that type of percentage in Vegas or elsewhere, I could make a living, but I don't delude myself.



          • #6
            First and foremost, please excuse my intrusion into the Advanced Poker Discussion forum. I am sure I am unqualified to present any information that would be worthy or relevant.

            However, that being said, I do have my opinion about sats. I promise to keep it short.

            I believe satellite play is the nuts. If played properly (strategy of such is a discussion for another day), sats can and will provide you with the necessary cash to participate in the larger events and possibly even help you turn a profit.

            To me, the challenge is to be able to switch gears from Sat Play to Tournament Play and for Gods sake, Ring Games. Personally, I allow myself time to transition between the first two (for instance, I took saturday off before sundays $500 NLHE event) and I very rarely ever play ring games during any of these events (for those who know me, this is a no brainer). The excellent players have an uncanny ability to change gears immediately. I do not. If you dont change gears, your results will suffer.

            The closer you get to the start of a major event, the sats speed up and get even crazier (5 min levels). Your play must not deviate from its structure, or, if it does, you should not play. The "Crazies" become lunatics and the blind structures are accelerated and the entire sat becomes a free for all and you just might as well draw for the high card. I dont know about others, but recovering from one of these minutes before the start of a major event is dramatic at least and devastating at worst.

            I dont believe an Excellent Sat Player is always necessarily an Excellent Tourney Player nor vice versa. I do think there is more money to be made for the Excellent Sat Player than the Excellent Tourney Player.

            Hedge, Be Patient and Situational Change are the words that most frequently pop into my head.

            Ok, Im going back to the beginners section now.

            Bob 8)


            • #7
              TKO wrote:
              Interested to hear the opinions of those at the WPO, but my experience has been that it is harder to consistently win sats here than it is to win them in live sats at tourneys.
              Based on my limited experience, I agree, but it is only by a small margin in LIMIT HE events.

              Here are my thoughts:

              - Live satellite players have very little single table satellite knowledge, PSOers do. Live satellite players make HUGE tournament errors. i.e. p---ing away valuable chips on an even money draw.

              - Live satellite players have extensive real life ring game experience, which gives them a slight edge in this regard. They know where they are in a hand--a good portion of the time.

              I think PSOers will find that they have their biggest advantage at NLHE satellites. REASON: Most players have thousands of hours experience at LIMIT HE ring games. They only have in the tens of hours experience at NLHE. PSOers may have (I hang my own head in shame) thousands of hours experience at NLHE tourneys and satellites.

              So, as always, GAME SELECTION is the key.


              PS Again, my experience is limited, so I would welcome comments from more experienced real life satellite players.

              PSS In 5 live satellites at 2003 WPO (1 LHE and 4 NLHE), I had a 4th, 3rd, and 3 chops. Unfortunately the chops were all 3-way. (Twice the chip counts with 3 left were within 2-3 chips of each other.) So a net profit of only $150.


              • #8
                I only played 3 sats at Tunica and finished 4th, 4th, and 5th. Yuck.
                All three I played in were won by a PSO player. thehazyone, keycon, and Cardster. So I think I will use better game selection and not play with PSO'ers in the future. zipman got a 2nd in one of these.

                One syndrone I noticed by more inexperienced NLHE players was I what I have called the "allin narcotic rush syndrone". I am sure you have all seen this to some extent. The sat starts out kind of boring. A 3X bb raise and all fold. or limp-limp Bet the flop and all fold. Boring , Routine play, Then someone will go all-in. Everyone stops, stares, and usually folds the first time this happens, BUT the allin player's eyes dilate, his breathing quickens, his palms sweat, he wins the pot (risking 200 in chips to win 25 or so), but he's hooked. It felt SO GOOD, he has to do it again. Then suddenly the disease spreads to other folks. and soon one enters allin narcotic rush play. The sats I played in had some players (none were PSO) that would follow this script. This was the time observant players (usually a PSO player) could move in and scoop up some chips.

                But, Oveall I felt comfortable in the sats and never felt "outclassed". Each time in these 3 sats that I went out or became crippled, and thus too short to matter, I was allin with the better 2 cards, BUT the dealer still puts 5 more out in the middle. Maybe next year for me. BUT For sure I will play the sats. And I will play 20 or 30 or so each month here. (about 250 or 350 more here to learn with.)


                • #9
                  I, too, was pleasantly surprised by the sat play at the WPO. I played 4 sats with a mediocre chop, 3rd, 3rd and 5th (my card dead sympathy muck sat eluded to in my trip report). I thought the NLHE played a little more fast a loose than the stud and stud Hi/Lo I played. But overall I thought that if I found a sat without too many PSOers I had a legitimate shot.

                  I thought the PSOers performed well and above the average in sat play, which I have to assume is due to more experience in single table structures. As far as the ring game experience of many of the players we came up against, I think this ended up working against them more than for them. Lose a big hand in a ring game, you can always make it up in subsequent hands. Lose a big hand in a sat and you can be watching the rest from the rail. And Shane was right that many of the sat players played an unnecessarily impatient game (the all-in syndrome) whereas the the PSOers, I felt, had set themselves a suitably aggressive and more realistic pace for the structure.

                  In retrospect, I would much rather sit down at a sat with the other WPO players than I would with PSOers. And I think in the coming year I will prepare more for the WPO sats as I think tko 14's point is right on.

                  oil doe


                  • #10
                    Re: Satellite Tournament Strategy

                    Originally posted by tko14
                    I have stated before, and I will continue to state that I think more players should put more time into practicing their sat play here at the PSO.

                    Satellites can be a cheap way to get into a bigger buy-in tourney, and can be down right profitable in their own right.
                    You can take this a step further. Not only are sats a cheap way to get into bigger buy in tourneys, but they can be profitable in and of themselves. There are folks who specialize in just playing sats, with no thoughts of every entering a tourney (assuming that winning a sat allows you to sell the entry).

                    Just as their are players who attend tourneys simply for the side action, there are those who specialize in sats. The nice thing about them is you usually don't even have to think of beating out eight or nine others. Usually there are three of four really poor players in sats who will eliminate themselves early, and all you have to do to propel yourself into the deal-making phase of a sat is to get lucky on one or two hands.

                    Just food for thought......


                    • #11
                      Thanks for responding Lou!

                      Hopefully, your "endorsement" of the profitability of satellites (if played properly) will encourage school members to give sats a chance!

                      The bigger buy-in sats are even better values for patient players. The average tourney time for the sats I played at Queens Classic and Five Diamond Classic was between 1 and 1/2 hours! Plenty of play and money was relatively deep.

                      Not as glamorous as bigger tourneys -- but I agree with Lou -- you only have to outlast 3 or 4 players (3 or 4 will spontaneously combust because of poor play and lack of patience). Far better than outlasting hundreds!


                      • #12
                        One of the best quotes I've read

                        tko14 said;
                        If we all contribute, we will all benefit!


                        • #13
                          Thanks for the bump.

                          It is sad that the PSO SnG's are not as popular now as they where during the time of this post.