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Tips and Tricks to play Satellite Tournaments

You see that your bank roll has recently depleted and you have enough for a few tournaments. What do you do in this scenario? Well, tournaments is the answer, with a higher prize and better poker awaiting you at the tables. Now cash games vs. tournaments are like one day vs. tests. And sattys are the Ranji of the tests, which you have to play before you go for international tests. So you play sattys for the bigger, better tournaments!

But how to go about winning sattys? They are a completely different format, with a game play unlike cash games. The motive is different and so is the method of cashing your buy-in. Satellites are not played for chips which you can cash in. Sattys are played for banking on getting the highest number of chips for a fixed amount of money, which can also total ‘zero’ if you fail to reach in-the-money. And then you leave the table, having outplayed a number of opponents, just failing to go through the bubble. You make one wrong all-in and you leave the tournament empty handed. 

So, now you realize that sattys employ a unique gameplay altogether. Unlike cash games, in which you can go all out and be aggressive from the start, sattys are to be played with a little patience and subtlety. Let us see the various points you have to consider while playing sattys to reach the money and the main tournament.

1) Strive to survive.

Satellite tournaments are made for the players to reach the next, bigger tournament, rather than get in the money. So, it’s more about survival than about ending with more amount of chips at the end. Even if you have just one chip left, and the others are busted, you get to go to the next tournament.

2) Wait till you get shorthanded, before you get aggressive. 

Do not get aggressive in the beginning. Wait till there are lesser number of opponents. This increases your odds of winning. It also gives you a fair chance of letting other players get eliminated before you start getting aggressive and motivated to win that seat in the next tournament.

3) Be careful during the bubble.

Generally, players get impatient and aggressive when there are only 2-3 seats left for the entry to the next tournament. This is the most crucial time. If you survive this, and not go all in, when others are calling, you might just save your last chip. This last chip can be your entry into the next tournament. 

4) Fold abundantly.

Do not worry about folding. The player who has a million chips is at par with one who is left with a single chip. Both are going to the next round. So, don’t be shy when it comes to folding. If you think you shouldn’t call, just fold. As long as there are more people going all in, you’re safe holding your seat in the next tournament.

5) Know the stats.

Learn a fact before sitting at the table. Check how many players go the next tournament. This would fairly affect your game. You have to survive that particular number. The more the number of players going into the bigger tournament, the better for you. The lesser the number of players going, the tighter you’ll have to play, and the more you’ll have to apply your survival instinct.

6) Never go all-in.

This is a cardinal rule you should follow unless you know that you have the nuts, for sure. Going all in can go in favor of any of the players, and all of them may feel that they have hit the nuts. But once you go all in, and then bust out (when there’s no re-buy option), then the tournament is over for you. Not only the current one, but the bigger one for which you were playing the satty. So, it is advisable not to go all in, unless you are sure you have the nuts.

Now that you are a little more equipped to play a satty, let’s hit the tables for a tournament that might have a higher buy-in, and kill it at its satellite! It’s easier said than done, but so is the entire sport of Texas Hold’em Poker. Further, online sattys are easier to play, and is more rewarding in terms of winnings as well as for learning the game. 



Shikha Tripathi

A social media strategist and an avid poker enthusiast, she loves taking risks and so is naturally aggressive on the poker table.