It’s the season
for satellite tournaments

Mar 7, 2006 4:48 AM

Even though the World Series of Poker is still more than three months away, hopeful poker players are turning their attention to trying to qualify via satellite tournaments.

A satellite is a small, one or more table poker tournament that allows a player to win a seat in a major tournament — such as a $10,000 entry into the World Series — at a fraction of the cost.

The problem for players in jurisdictions like Las Vegas is most of the satellites, which typically get under way in March, are conducted at Internet poker sites.

There will be live satellites at the Rio preceding the World Series, but those don’t commence until June 25.

GamingToday over the next few weeks will try to pinpoint where players can participate in live satellite tourneys. In the past, they’ve been held in Connecticut casinos, as well as casinos in Missouri, Mississippi and Colorado, just to name a few states.

As noted, however, the majority of satellite seats in the World Series will be filled by online poker rooms (last year, more than two-thirds of the entries into the $10,000 buy-in championship event qualified via a satellite).

Among the Internet poker sites, has been the most aggressive in conducting satellites. Last year, 1,116 entrants into the World Series qualified via PokerStars satellites.

Another site,, sent 650 players to the World Series last year, and they are currently offering a variety of satellites with entries beginning at about $50.

Other popular poker sites that offer qualifying satellites include Full Tilt,, and

Most of the satellites have a buy-in of around $200. Some offer the chance to win a seat in the satellite by playing in a less expensive, single-table tourney for about $25.

Here’s a recap of how most satellites work:

Single Table Satellites offer players the chance to win a tournament entry by winning a one-table tournament. The winner receives a tournament entry plus cash. Single Table Satellites for any particular tournament are usually played during the 24-hour period immediately preceding the start of that tournament.

Double Shootout Satellites are two-tiered satellites that award a $10,000 seat for the World Series championship event to a player who beats out 18 other players, nine at the first table and nine more at the final table. Buy-in is usually $125 for the first table. Winners of the first table satellites will return to play against each other at a final table. The winner of the final table will receive a $10,000 entry.

Super Satellites are multi-table tournaments that offer multiple players the chance to win a $10,000 seat in the World Series. Buy-in is $225 and multiple re-buys of $200 are allowed during the first three levels of play. Prize pool money for each Super Satellite is converted into as many $10,000 seats as possible, and play ends when there are as many players remaining as there are seats to be awarded. Super Satellites, along with the Double Shootouts, will typically be held in the days leading up to the World Series.