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Poker Satellite Strategy Basics

Poker Satellite Strategy Basics

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Playing in online poker satellites is always an attractive proposition for a savvy online poker player. Qualifying through an online satellite will grant one access to poker tournament far outside the reach of his/her bankroll, and playing in such events is extremely beneficial for everyone, not only because of the potential prize one stands to win, but because of the valuable knowledge and experience one can amass this way.

When playing in online satellites, one always has to think long-term. The most common mistake that players make is that they limit themselves in what seems like a mathematically justified way. For instance, for a $90 event, some will not play more than 3 $30 buy-in satellites, in order not to exceed the direct buy-in. While mathematically justified indeed, this sort of approach is flawed in terms of poker strategy, because it will simply limit one’s satellite potential.


When it comes to satellite strategy, the most important thing one should keep in mind is that there are marked differences between satellite and “square” tournament strategy. Most of the differences are sparked by the differences in goals between the two tournament-types. On one hand, in a tournament, advancing as deep as possible (preferably all the way to the top) is always handsomely rewarded. In a satellite though, once you’re “in the money” so to speak, you’ve achieved your goal and playing down any further doesn’t even make any sort of practical sense at all.

Let us get down to actual tournament strategy though: the early stages of satellites are a tad peculiar, and they can in fact become downright weird, depending on the size of the buy-in they feature. If we’re talking about a low buy-in satellite or a freeroll for that matter, things can degenerate radically during the early going, as there will be plenty of “double-up or go home” players looking to chip up fast. The best way to navigate this stage of the event is to just fall back on a pretty radical version of the good-old tight-aggressive approach. One has to be aware, that even this way, he may end up felted by a lucky loose cannon, but mathematically and statistically speaking, this will still be the best way to approach things during the early stages of an online (or even live) poker satellite.


The middle stage of the action will call upon one’s standard tournament skills. This is the stage during which it starts to make sense to steal blinds, and to aggressively defend them every now and then. This is when A-B-C tournament strategy comes into the picture with all its bells and whistles.

It is during the late stages of satellites that a lot of finesse is called upon on the part of the regular tournament player, who is – if he’s a good player that is – always in “fox” mode during this stage, instead of being a “farmer” (foxes are aggressive players aiming for all the marbles, while farmers are those whose goal is to sneak into the money and then maybe to advance a tad further before running out of gas). To be effective in satellites, such players need to add a bit of a twist to their approach, incorporating some “farmer-like” elements as well. has been one of the top online poker loyalty deal providers since 2005.

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