Tournament talk

Mar 20, 2006 11:22 PM

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to see quite a few tournaments in Las Vegas, including the World Poker Tour Championship (see WPT coverage on page 1) and World Series of Poker, both of which will be preceded by satellite and super satellites.

Thus it might be a good time to discuss how to approach playing in a major tournament, as well as how to get in through satellites.

Basically, a satellite is a mini-tournament in which the prize is a seat or buy-in for a major tournament. Sometimes, the prize includes travel expenses, hotel accommodations and the like.

There are two kinds of satellites: the single table satellite and the super satellite.

As the name implies, the single table satellite usually consists of one table with 10 players, all vying for a single seat in the main tournament.

An example would be a single table satellite that would award a $10,000 seat into the World Series of Poker’s championship event. In this case, each entrant would pony up $1,000.

Conversely, a super satellite usually has a large number of entrants — often several hundred — but the cost to enter is less and there are more seats awarded.

For instance, your entry could be reduced to only $250 per entry in a super satellite, whihc would award more $10,000 seats.

I believe the super satellite is a better bargain and thus a good way to win a seat into a major tournament.

Obviously, you’ll be competing against more players, but I think you’ll find that the level of competition will be weaker with the lower buy-in. This is easier than playing against nine tough players.

Poker room managers take note: As an aside, let me say that I think the Las Vegas poker rooms should increase the level of super satellites, and offer then earlier in the cycle. I think there are a lot of players out there who would participate, and would love a chance to win a seat in a WPT or WSOP championship. Plus, they could easily become regular cash customers, as well.

The approach to playing in a satellite isn’t far removed from playing in a tournament. The single-table satellite is similar to a final table. Thus you should concentrate on trying to see as many flops as you can in the early stages, before the blinds increase to the higher levels.

At the same time you need to quickly assess your opposition: try to determine which player might be susceptible to a bluff or other attack.

Some last-minute satellites rush players with blind increases every 10 to 15 minutes. I advise avoiding these, unless you don’t mind playing in a crap shoot.

If you can, evaluate the players at the table before diving in. Professionals sometimes use single-table satellites to avoid paying for a seat and, if you can, you should steer clear of their table.

If you’re in a super satellite, your goal is to survive your table in order to move to the next table. Your approach will be similar to your approach to the tournament itself. Some things to keep in mind:

”¡ Be cautious with unknown players. Many are beginners who are highly unpredictable. This makes them dangerous. Play correctly with the knowledge that you’re better safe than sorry.

”¡ Use the solid techniques we’ve previously discussed to build your chip count as quickly as possible. Having a big stack of chips gives you the freedom to take more shots at more pots and see more flops.

”¡ If you’re up against a top player or even a professional, make your moves early. You’re better off taking action before they’ve had a chance to gauge your play, when they don’t really know you.

”¡ Don’t be afraid to make a deal near the end of the single-table satellite. If your chip could warrants, make the deal and move on to another satellite.

Finally, the toughest part of a tournament or super satellite is the first couple of days. That’s because of the unpredictability factor. If you can avoid being crippled by an unlucky break, you should be rewarded by your solid play.