UFASatellites and Super Satellites
Playing a satellite is a tournament parlay. Satellites are tournaments you enter in hopes of winning a seat into a larger tournament. They provide an opportunity for players to get into larger tournaments for a fraction of the cost and are extremely popular at all major tournaments. Let me give you an example of how they work.
Suppose a Hold’em tournament cost $1060 to enter. A one-table satellite (ten players) for this event would most likely cost $120 to play. The winner of the satellite would get an entry into the $1060 event (and $140 would go to the house). Most casinos host satellites continuously during a major event. Tournaments and satellites have different buy-ins. Players might play a satellite in one game but if they win it, they might prefer to play a UFA tournament in another game. Rather than assign players a seat into a particular tournament, tournaments issue “lammers” (buttons that are usually for $300 or $500) to players who win satellites. They can use those lammers to play in any tournament they wish. Players like having this option.
Another plus for issuing lammers is that players who so desire can make a deal at the end of a satellite. For example, suppose three players had equal chips at the end of a satellite with a prize of a $1500 buy-in. There would be three $500 lammers available (plus some cash for the vigorish). The three remaining players might opt to take one lammer each rather than play the satellite out. This is good for the house as it speeds up satellites, keeps more players in action, and generally keeps the players happy, as many would prefer to ‘chop’ rather than gamble at the high levels of the final stages of a satellite.
Super Satellites are Multi-table tournaments that are held for big buy-in championship events. Players play a Super Satellite to win a seat into a championship event. For example, at the WSOP, where the buy-in for the main event is $10,000, the Supers cost $225 to enter. (Re-buys are allowed for the first hour.) They run them twice daily for a month at the WSOP and they run like a Swiss watch. Supers are extremely popular at the WSOP. Last year, over half of the 641 entries in the World Championship event were satellite winners.
To have a successful large buy-in championship event, it is essential that Super Satellites be run. Why? Because those who are actually going to buy into a championship event like to see ‘value’ for their money, meaning a large field, before they plunk down their cold cash to play. Super Satellites are virtually the only way to ensure getting a large field.
You can even play Super Satellites online for some events. For example, players can win a luxurious cruise for two and a paid entry into the Finals of the PartyPoker.com Million II tournament (March 1–8, 2003), a $7200 value for a $108 buy-in (every Tuesday on PartyPoker.com). The estimated prize pool for that event is a whopping $1,500,000!
To play in your favorite events, I wholeheartedly recommend you go for the gusto and try a satellite and/or Super Satellite.
Money Saved Equals Money Won
Not every poker player realizes that money saved is equal to money won. When we sit down to play we want to win and we come out swinging with good hands, get ourselves into pots we can win, and take the money down. When we do that we’re happy. If we sat down with a rack of chips and increased it to a rack and a half, we’d have seen our fortunes grow by fifty percent and displayed our primacy at the holy game, visible evidence of our skill, knowledge, cunning, and luck. Our opponents can see it too, and breathes there a poker player alive who is not justifiably proud of a terrific bluff, the ability to lure an opponent in for an additional bet while holding a powerhouse hand?
Everyone loves the moment. Dragging in a big pot full of chips is incredibly satisfying to our egos. But that’s only half the battle. Money you save by not calling a bet with a weak hand spends just as well as that extra bet you garnered through your impressive offensive display. We love offense. Perhaps it’s endemic to poker players. We like to win. We seem to be that way when it comes to any competitive endeavor. Quarterbacks who make the big plays get the big bucks, more than the cornerbacks and safeties that prevent big plays. We prefer big hitters who can’t field a lick to gold-glove shortstops with their .243 batting averages. You can argue about which player is more valuable. But in poker there’s no argument at all. Defensive play is the equal of offensive play; only many players never realize it.
What you don’t spend, you don’t have to earn. Money represented by a bet saved spends just as well as money gained. This is quite an important notion. If you’re a good player, able to win between one and one-and-one-half big bets per hour (and it’s tough to ever average more than that), a bet saved is a pretty big thing!
In a Hold’em game you’re in the blind about six hands per hour and some of your blinds will be raised. Routinely calling each raise from the blind may cost you quite a bit of money. The same thing holds true if you make weak calls when the flop neither hits your hand nor provides a draw to a flush or a straight. These are all opportunities to save a bet. While it seems small, after all, “…only one bet,” those bets add up. A bet here and a bet there, and pretty soon you’ve traversed that line separating consistently winning players from consistently losing players.
When the skill gaps are small, often the determining factor between who wins and who contributes is the discipline to save a bet with hands that aren’t quite hopeless, but do not offer the right price to continue the fray. Saving a bet is neither dramatic, nor ego satisfying, nor likely to rouse the envy of your peers and adversaries, but it’s spendable cash. The degree that you know when to save a bet by folding may be the key to your success at the poker. After all, even Kenny Rogers knows “ …you gotta know when to fold ’em.” Do you?