Poker is sometimes called a game of kings, and for some tournaments, it requires a kingly sum to buy-in. Many high-stakes poker tournaments are out of the price range of the average player. Luckily, there is a game type that doesn’t require a large sum to buy-in and can help hopeful players gain entry into the more prestigious tournaments without having to come up with the massive buy-in. Satellite tournaments are the best friend of poker players with dreams of playing in big poker games that are normally out of their price range.
What Is A Satellite Tournament?
A satellite poker game is a minor tournament that offers entry into a higher-stakes event, tour or series. They can also serve as qualifiers if demand has exceeded a tournament’s capacity; qualifying rounds eliminate players until the pool of players is small enough. A satellite’s primary purpose is to provide entry into a higher-stakes game. It takes longer, but the buy-in is significantly less.
How Satellite Tournaments Work
Satellite tournaments have most of the same rules and gameplay as a regular game of Texas Hold'em; the main difference is the prize on offer. They can have multiple tiers, especially if there are thousands of players all vying for the higher-stakes tournament, winning a tier gains you entry to the next level. This process continues until only a handful of players are left in the top tier. The winner of the final level gains the ticket to the high-stakes tournament.
Example: If a satellite tournament has three tiers, then you will need to win three games in a row to play for the ticket into the high-stakes game.
There are also options to start in a free satellite game and win your way up to a higher-tier, while other players buy in.
Example: If there are eight tiers to a satellite tournament, the first two might be free, and players can earn their way up the ranks to play for the ticket. If not, you can start at a higher tier by buying in.
Satellite tournaments can also take rules from other tournament types; some games will offer re-entry, rebuys and knockout bounties. The first tier can sometimes be free, but if you bust out, you have to buy back in as you would in a regular game.
Many satellite tournaments are turbo games, with blinds increasing regularly, and smaller than average starting stacks. This format drastically reduces the skill factor and often can descend into ‘all-in’ or ‘fold’ contests until players have begun to collect larger stacks.
How Satellite Tournaments Differ To Other Tournaments
There Is No Prize Pool Unlike ring games and regular tournaments, there is no prize pool; all that can be won is entry into a higher stakes game.
Everyone Is An Equal Winner If the top five gain entry to the next competition, it doesn't matter if you are first or fifth, the prize is the same. You don't need to come first every time to be the overall winner.