As the World Series of Poker has become more popular, the internet based poker rooms have started running satellite tournaments for entry into the main event almost as soon as the previous years series is completed.
These satellite tournaments come in many different shapes and sizes, with buy-ins starting as low as a few cents at some rooms to over $1,000 for the finals at others. These satellite tournaments require a slightly different strategy than normal tournaments, as the goal is not to win, but to finish high enough to advance.
In most of the multi table satellites, more than one finisher will advance to the next round. For example, if the top ten advance, finishing eleventh is no better than last. So if you find yourself with one of the larger stacks when the tournament gets down to twelve or thirteen players, the best thing to do may be fold your way into the top ten. In a normal multi table tournament, this would not be correct, as it wouldn’t give you the best chance to win.
To illustrate this example in more detail, suppose the average chip stack is 50,000, you have 125,000, there are twelve players left, only ten advance to the next round and there are 6 players with less than 50,000. You should fold every single hand even pocket Aces. Though the pocket Aces are a large favorite against any other hand, there are always situations where they will lose. You have a much higher percentage chance of finishing in the top ten by folding them than by playing them. If your goal were to finish first, you would play them because of the same percentages.
If you are playing a single table satellite, often only the top one or two finishers will advance. In this case it is important to realize that a normal money finish of third place is not good enough and you will want to push smaller advantages for the chance to greatly increase your chip stack. If the top two advance, you will need to accumulate roughly half the chips in play, so any small edge that you can find to help you get there will be worth taking advantage of.
Realize what your goal is before starting in any tournament so you can make the correct decisions throughout the tournament. Understanding what is important can make the difference between tenth and eleventh, and as you can see in the example above, this difference can be huge.
Until next week, good luck in the satellites!