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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP Journal

The Essence of Satellites

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Before the concept of an online qualifier was ever conceived, the WSOP introduced the satellite. It was a simple concept: ten players buy in for $1,000, and the winner gets a seat in the Main Event.

Nowadays it's not so simple. Satellites have evolved into a whole game within the game for some, and a chance for others to find out if they're ready to compete for a bracelet. There's even a new book out, "Championship Satellite Strategy" by Tom McEvoy and Brad Daugherty, that specifically looks at this facet of the game, which takes up the Southeast Quadrant of the Amazon Room at the 2007 World Series. What players are competing for is a little bit of money and the coveted $500 white chips. These are the chips used for tournament buy-ins and as intimidating card protectors for die-hard satellite players.

Here's what you need to know about how these games play:

Single-table satellites

These 10-player tournaments run quickly and almost constantly, lasting anywhere from one to three hours, and 15-minute levels. Blinds start at 25/25, 25/50, 50/100 ... and move up in non-doubling increments after the fifth level, when the prize is on the line.

Buy-in: $125
Starting chips: 1000
Prize: 2 white chips, $120 cash

Buy-in: $175
Starting chips: 1500
Prize: 3 white chips, $120 cash

Buy-in: $225
Starting chips: 1500
Prize: 4 white chips, $120 cash

Buy-in: $275
Starting chips: 1500
Prize at stake: 5 white chips, $120 cash

Buy-in: $325
Starting chips: 1500
Prize at stake: 6 white chips, $120 cash

Buy-in: $525
Starting chips: 2000
Prize at stake: 10 white chips, $120 cash

Buy-in: $1,035
Starting chips: 2,000
Prize: 20 white chips, $200 cash

Two- and three-table satellites

The WSOP says they will also be offering multi-table satellites with higher payouts in tournament chips. They have not been running often, not because there isn't interest, but, tourney officials say, because there isn't space.

A fairly common end to a satellite is for final players to chop the prize pool Discussion of a chop normally starts when there are two or three players remaining. For some, they want to accumulate as many of those white chips as possible, so they want to take down any once some coin is there for the taking. Others see a satellite as their one shot to make it into a bracelet event, so chopping is not in the cards. The best chops give a little something to each remaining player, as they finish out the tournament for an extra chip or the cash.

Two-winner satellites

There is also an option to play satellites where the last two players standing are guaranteed to split the prize pool, regardless of chip stacks. The cash payout is reduced to $100 in these single-tables, and $150 in the $1,035 buy-in.

Other games

Though a vast majority of the satellites offered are No-Limit Hold'em, throughout the day as interest is found, the
WSOP spreads satellites in Omaha, Razz, 7-stud, Lowball, and other games - including limit, pot-limit, and Hi/Lo varieties.


The WSOP also offers regular Mega-Satellites. These are a different animal altogether. It's played like a regular tournament until the end. Competition stops as soon as as there is enough money in the prize pool to pay for Main Event seats (+$200) for every remaining player. So if sixty players enter the $1,060 satellite, the last six standing will receive Main Event buy-ins, with the seventh-to-last player remaining getting whatever leftover cash is in the prize pool.

These run almost everyday at 9:00PM, as well as 1:00PM frequently. For every $10,200 generated by buy-ins, a seat gets awarded. So far they have been averaging four or five ME seats per Mega Satellite. Players start with 5,000 in chips.

For many, these tournaments provide a good risk/reward ratio. All it takes to win a seat to the Main Event is finishing in the top 10% of the Mega Satellite, rather than winning the event outright.

The World Series is also offering $2,250 mega-satellites for the $50,000 HORSE event. Andy Bloch is currently fighting through one of these, working for a discounted chance to return to the Final Table this year. Others still in with fourteen players left include Mimi Tran, Mel Judah, and Eric "Rizen" Lynch.

Satellites. For even the best players, they are a discounted way into the World Series of Poker, a way for any player to win their way into their chance to take home a WSOP bracelet.


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