In his soon-to-be released book, Phil Hellmuth advises players to participate in satellites, not simply to gain entry in an otherwise unreachable tournament, but to improve one’s play.
"I strongly suggest that you play in satellites so that you become used to "endgame" poker play, that is, when the table is shorthanded with big stacks and big blinds."
Satellites typically feature 10-handed mini-tournaments in which players put up a fraction of the buy-in to a poker tournament. The winner takes the seat in the main event.
Not all satellites offer seats in the $10,000 buy-in Championship Event at the World Series of Poker.
For instance, you can play in a satellite for the WSOP’s $2,000 Limit Hold’em event (which Hellmuth has won!), by putting up $220 and playing against nine other hopefuls, with the winner taking a seat in the $2,000 buy-in event. Incidentally, the Limit Hold’em event will attract several hundred players, and will pay more than $400,000 for first place. So, it’s possible to parlay $220 into over $400,000 in two days!
Hellmuth adds that playing in a satellite simulates what it’s like to play at the final table of big event. "In order to win a satellite, you start out playing 10- or 9-handed and continue eliminating players until you’re playing two-handed (heads up) for the seat in the tournament.’
Playing in multiple satellites can also improve one’s ability to handle the short-handed limit Hold’em non-tournament game, Hellmuth writes.
"When you play non-tourney Hold’em, you’ll often find that the game will either end up shorthanded (five players or less) or become shorthanded for a time while you’re waiting for new players to join up," Hellmuth writes. "If you have no experience in these shorthanded game situations, either you’ll have to leave a potentially profitable game (when it fills up again) or you’ll probably lose money, because shorthanded play is quite different from nine-handed play. Satellites let you practice and improve your shorthanded game, because you skip all the effort of getting to the ”˜final table.’ You’re already there, and as players start getting knocked out, you’ll begin gaining experience that will help improve your shorthanded game."