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What are satellite tournaments in poker

Many novice online poker players, when they meet the mention of satellites, do not know what it is.  This article will be devoted to the analysis of this term satellite tournament in simple and understandable words.

As you might have guessed, the satellite is one of the options, or rather, the format of poker tournaments. At the same time, a satellite is a qualifying competition in which participants have the opportunity to receive a free “ticket” or an invitation to a larger tournament.

They are held for those who have poker talent, but there are no funds to participate in a major series.  Winning certain satellites exempts you from paying the unaffordable buy-in in large tournaments.

The most important advantage of satellites can be safely called accessibility – buy-ins at such competitions rarely cost more than a hundred dollars. Initially, satellite tournaments were held exclusively on online platforms. But now, even in the WSOP – World Series of Poker, you can take part by going through and winning a similar “qualifying round”.

We also note that not only beginners, but also professionals can participate in such tournaments – so you should not forget to be careful.

Satellites – features


Most often, satellites can be found in various events related specifically to Texas Hold’em. As in big events, such a tournament has an entry fee rule, but, as we said earlier, it is much less – and costs less than a hundred dollars.
In terms of the number of participants, satellites typically feature around ten players competing for a “ticket” to a larger event with higher buy-in prices.
For the organizers of satellite tournaments, this is, first of all, an excellent advertising move, attracting new guests and adding emotions to the main event, because sometimes talented, yet unknown participants, appear precisely at the qualifying stage.
At the same time, the costs of the organizers do not increase much – after all, if ten participants pay one hundred dollars each and the winner enters a larger game for one thousand dollars won, this will not greatly affect the budget of the event.
Another distinctive and original feature of satellite tournaments is diversity. By introducing various types and options into the programs, the organizers qualitatively increase the number of applicants. Participants get the right to choose which table to sit at for a more convenient or interesting game for them.
This can manifest itself in the following way – the satellite will be different from the main tournament – for example, the main one will be held in the classic game mode, and the qualifier in the turbo version. One thing remains unchanged – the type of poker – which means, if you are aiming at participating in an Omaha tournament, then the qualifying round will be held in the same discipline.

Satellites – types

Now let’s take a closer look at what types and types of satellites exist.

Tournament Sit-n-go in literal translation – sit down and play.  It is the most common type of satellites.

Satellite tournaments are regular – it is designed for a fairly large number of participants. At regular selections, it is customary to play not one, but several “tickets” for big tournaments. Another distinguishing feature of such tournaments is a limited, well-defined time.

There are also bonus satellites in online poker, the entrance to which can be used not with real money, but with received bonuses or bonus points. Unlike cash satellites, in which a fixed payment is made in cash.

Qualifying freerolls are a very popular type of satellite – it is absolutely free, but there is a big “But” there are too many participants, sometimes more then one thousand people, which means you will have to fight with a large “set” of opponents.

Summing up the article, let’s go over the material again – satellites are a qualifying, let’s say, qualifying round. The cost of buy-ins is significantly less than in large events. For winning such rounds, participants receive free tickets to big competitions, including the World Series of Poker tournament.

The format of the satellite may differ from the format of the main tournament, but the discipline of poker will always be the same. And of course, in any of the poker competitions, you will need both a good knowledge base and practical training.

Advantages of satellites:

Qualifying events make big events more popular.  Because of such qualifications, they receive additional participants, greater competitiveness and entertainment.

Satellite play tips

Here are some tips for winning such a qualifying tournament:

The best rooms with satellites

Online qualifiers are held by all popular poker sites. Different establishments set different conditions for participation and use of raffled tickets. The range of offline events that can be selected online is also very different.


Here you can pay buy-ins in rubles. Most satellites start shortly before the start of the tournament. The exception is large series, the selection for which begins a few weeks before the start of the main events. A huge number of satellites are held on the eve of the Global Cup of Online Poker (GCOOP) and the Russian Open Online Poker Championship.


Leads hundreds of satellites daily to regular tournaments and numerous online and offline series. The qualifying schedule is distinguished by a wide range of formats: Spin & Go, Sit & Go, MTT, freerolls. Raffles tickets to most major offline championships, including series organized by PokerStars.


In addition to the standard qualifiers, the room holds satellites that allow you to win tournament money, which can only be used to pay for entries to live events. The structural subdivision of PartyPoker Live organizes live series and selects other organizers for major championships, including the WSOP.


The young poker site offers a range of games available in all rooms of the GGNetwork network, so there are online series with total prizes up to $100 million. The championships are accompanied by numerous satellites with different participation conditions. The MTT format is mainly used, since CIS poker is not offered by the network.


888poker’s qualifying schedule mainly offers events to qualify for their own online tournaments.  But, on the eve of the World Series of Poker (WSOP), the room is actively qualifying for various offline events. Here you can win a trip to Las Vegas to participate in the WSOP Main Event with a buy-in of $10,000. The ticket includes not only buy-in, but also the cost of travel, accommodation, food, entertainment.

Gemma Heathcote
Gemma Heathcote.

Gemma Heathcote – Editor @ Superlenny

Gemma is the Editor of SuperLenny.com, where her main responsibility outside of editing and writing content is overseeing everything published online. She’s also ensures the day to day operations of SuperLenny are kept running smoothly, including keeping Josh and Matt in check!