Ariston's guide to Satellites pt 2

May 3, 2011, Posted by Pokerfarm

Ariston's guide to Satellites pt 2

Ariston's Guide to Satellites (Part II)

I hope you're all ready for the next part. Incidentally, some people have already qualified with the help of the first half. Can I expect to see a lot more of you qualifying and joining me in Vegas?

Final table/approaching the seat

There are two different forms of satellites: one with multiple seats on offer, and one with a single seat. I will discuss the end-game in two distinct sections, as the strategies for both types are slightly different.

Single seat up for grabs

If there is only one prize - your main objective is to get to the heads-up stage at any cost. The most important thing to do in a final like this is to pick your target very carefully and move all-in. It is very rare that someone gets enough good cards to win one of these by winning most of the hands and knocking players out, so you have to steal, re-steal, and bully your way through - if you have the chips to do so.

Avoid confrontation with anyone who can seriously damage you. Instead beat up the short stacks. As you can now see exactly how you stand chip-wise in comparison to the other players, you know who to tackle and who to leave alone. Again you should not be calling all-ins from anyone unless it's one of the shorties - and you can afford to take the hit and lose the amount that he has. If this is the case, I will "sheriff" (call to try and take him out) with anything better than a TJ. If someone has moved all-in at this stage it is correct to pass almost every hand (AA aside of course although there are times its correct to fold AA). Would I call someone's all in with KK if he had more chips than me? No is the simple answer. If I have a decent size stack (i.e. more than 10bbs), I will only call an all-in if I am the shorty at the table and looking to double up.

When you get down to 3 or 4 players it is essential you do not blow up. In every one of my satellites someone at this stage has simply blown up and given their seat away. If you have the chip lead then steal away. You can raise almost every hand and people will not want to get knocked out by you. If you don't have the chip lead there is no shame in letting others do the work for you. Play your hands on their merits but do not let yourself get blinded away- better to go out a lion than a mouse.

By moving all-in whenever you are stealing it takes away the option of someone running a re-steal on you, and you will also find that if you get called you can always get lucky. Also you will find that people get fed up and call when you actually have the goods, thinking you are stealing again. Stack management is the key to a final, and by watching others getting knocked out you will soon find yourself heads-up even if you are at a chip disadvantage. Then it's anyone's.

I'm not going to go through heads up play. If I have helped you get to heads up you may be playing me there! (I will write a heads up article in the next month or two anyway as it's another huge one).

More than one seat

It's easier to get seats in these ones because you can sometimes just blind away to a seat. If there is more than one seat on offer and you have anything like a playable stack, there are no excuses whatsoever for not winning one of them. You'll see players getting knocked out quite quickly when they panic because they have one of the smaller stacks.

If you're one of the shorties, wait until you have a hand to push it all-in with. When you reach the bubble (i.e. 4 of you left and 3 seats up for grabs) do not play any hand unless you are the shortest of the four. A simple rule is that if someone has a shorter stack than you then they have to make a move before you. If they make this move and succeed, and you find yourself 4th of four, then it's your turn. If you have one of the bigger two stacks, you can still steal away, but avoid taking on the man who can hurt you.

It is possible to win a seat without ever having to show a hand in a multiple satellite (that would be the perfect tournament and is still something I have never managed). Remember, when there are three of you left, it doesn't matter if you have 1 chip or 5 million - you still get the same prize.

I saw a satellite last year where a guy won a world series seat with just 137 chips. He folded on his small blind and ran the clock down so the blinds had gone up. When the other short stack posted his big blind on the next hand, he was all in and six people on the table called and checked it out making sure they all got a seat.
Always keep an eye on the other person "at risk" of being eliminated on the bubble and try to not fall too far behind him. If he steals a set of blinds then you have to steal a set. It becomes a game of battling stack sizes at this stage. I have yet to bubble in a satellite by being very cautious at this stage.

Deals in satellites

This is quite common place and something I would suggest if you find yourself at the business end of a satellite. It is within the rules but has to be on a trust basis with the player who you make a deal with (poker players on the whole are trustworthy types and sites will not get involved with enforcing deals - your word has to be your bond).
When you get to the bubble it is quite common for a saver to be suggested. This can take the form of a cash settlement for the bubble boy or a % saver between players (a % of any cash they get at the main event). This doesn't mean you will soft play a person you have saved a % with. After all, you obviously still want the seat for yourself.

In the Monte Carlo satellite last year I saved a % with Ben Grundy which netted me four grand when he went on to make the final in the main event. In the New Orleans qualifier the last four agreed to drop $1000 out of our $2000 expenses money to the 4th place finisher. This gave the 4th place man a consolation prize of $3k.
In my St Kitts qualifier where there was only 1 seat up for grabs. I found myself heads up with a 5-1 chip lead and suggested a saver for 2nd (2nd got nothing). The player asked what I meant and I suggested the winner gave the loser $500. In response he uttered the most beautiful words to me: "I only have $28 in my account". I instantly jumped on the chance to "buy him out" and offered him $1000 to go away. He sat out and I got a $9k package for $1000. I got $2000 in expenses anyway and was in effect taking away the chance he could turn me over heads up. Poker can be a strange game and the seat was by no means a certainty.

Mistakes/biggest blow ups I have witnessed in my satellites

This is what can happen if you don't follow the rules I have laid out above.

Australian satellite

Four handed and there is me (chip leader now), kinghawko and Ed Giddins close on chips in 2nd - and A N other sat as the short stack. Kinghawko moves all-in with AQ and Ed calls in an instant with AK. Hawko makes a full house to knock Ed out. Sure, he got unlucky, but he called an all-in and I had no sympathy for him, as the blinds were relatively small and there was no need to risk going broke with ace high in effect. The deck hit me in the face heads up and Hawko was unlucky to finish second.

BPO satellite

Two huge stacks and four short stacks (including me). Two seats up for grabs and two big cash prizes. In the first hand of the final, the largest stack standard raises from the small blind and the 2nd big stack flat calls from the big blind. The flop comes T72 rainbow and the chip leader puts in a small bet. The 2nd chip leader moves in for 50k+ (remember that I have around 4k and there are three other stacks less than 8k). The chip leader calls instantly with his set of sevens to knock out the numpty with his AJ (obviously that's how he got himself the 50k, but did he not consider slowing down?). This is what can happen when you decide to bump heads with someone who can hurt you.

New Orleans qualifier

Eight players left and I have around 50k along with two others - and the chip leader has over 100k. There are three seats up for grabs. A very short stack moves all-in for around 4k and the button (one of the other 50k men) smooth calls. I am on the big blind and sheriff (call to knock him out) with J8 knowing it will be checked out anyway. The flop comes JJ8 (woohoo). Now, I would always check out an all-in man - apart from when I have the stone cold nuts. So I bet 10k to let the other man know I have the short stack beat: "it's OK you can fold".....he calls. Turn card brings a blank so I now bet 22k – "just fold you fool I have the nuts". This time he dwells a while and then again calls. The last card brings a ten and I move the rest of my chips in. Ok, I don't have the stone cold anymore but I'm not folding if he bets and leaving myself a short stack, so I just jam them in there. He calls and proudly shows off QQ. If he re-raised pre-flop he would have won the pot. After taking the flop he has to fold in my opinion, as I am hardly likely to be betting into a dry pot without having the goods. This guy could have folded on the flop and left himself with a nice stack and a shot at the seat - by being a non-believer he won nothing but the right to post a bad beat on a forum about the numpty who cracked his QQ with J8.

Key hands in satellites

These are the hands that won me the seats. I'm not involved in all of them, but these are the hands I can recall that won me some of my seats.


We are five handed after the numpty has got knocked out and the big stack is moving in almost every hand. On my BB he moves in and I look down at JJ. I have a few people on msn and every one of them wished me good luck after I told them my hand and then called me a numpty when I folded it. Two hands later, I raise all-in from the button with KT and the BB (other short stack) calls me with AK. I flop a full house and knock the big blind out ensuring me at least a nice payday for 4th. The moral of the story- I would rather move in with KT than call an all-in with JJ (even though I had around 20% of my stack in with the BB).The guy who called my KT with AK probably felt aggrieved but if I can fold JJ from the BB then why cant he fold AK?

Monte Carlo

We had been three handed playing for two seats for about three weeks (well, over 90 mins anyway) and I fold on the button. Heaven moves in and Ben Grundy calls him with Ax. I can't recall the exact hands because I didn't care, I was too busy dancing round the room (I really wanted the Monte Carlo seat).
I had 36k and they both had around 22k each, so it didn't matter who won - I had my seat locked barring a split pot. Heaven's two face cards (I think) failed to improve against Milkybar's ace high - and I was Monte Carlo bound. I thought at the time that Ben's call was one of the worst I have seen, for the reasons I have explained earlier, but I am sure glad he made it

New Orleans Qualifier

Now, the key hand for me was not the one from above. Surprisingly enough, it was one when we were four handed. I was sat with about 80k, the chip leader had 200k+ and the 2 short stacks had around 25k each. Under the gun I raise to 20k (the blinds were big at this stage) with AA hoping to get one of the shorties to go all-in. Button shorty folded as did Small blind shorty and the BB (chipleader) moved all-in for 200k+. I typed in 'lol' and folded. A lot of people just could not fold AA there, but if you look at it sensibly what difference is it to me having 60k or 160k? At this stage, I'm still confident one of the short stacks will go broke before me (the blinds were 4/8k if I remember rightly). I have the best hand in Holdem, but it doesn't mean it will win. Against most of the hands, that the big stack is likely to hold. I am an 80% favorite, which means I will miss out on the seat 20% of the times I play the hand. I figure I have a better than 80% chance of winning a seat with my remaining 60k+ so it is correct to just fold.

If any of you win a seat because of these articles I will see you in Vegas and you can buy me a pint. If any of you disagree with what I have written, keep playing your way and moaning about badbeats on the forums

See some of you in Vegas,

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