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Why you should play online tournament satellites: “The experience of playing in big events is one of a kind”

Why you should play online tournament satellites: “The experience of playing in big events is one of a kind”

Online tournament players really are spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing which events they’re going to play. While there used to be only a few big online series scattered throughout the year, these days it feels odd when there isn’t one running.

All of these big buy-in, big field events provide opportunities for monster scores, but playing them isn’t always an option for those with modest bankrolls. Bankroll management is imperative to long-term success in poker (so don’t start punting!) but thankfully, satellites are always running.

You’ll even find high stakes regulars like Lex Veldhuis grinding a few satellites during his stream sessions, even if the target tournament is one he’ll play whether he wins a seat or not. The opportunity to win your way into a tournament for a fraction of the actual buy-in is too sweet a deal to pass up.

So ask yourself: are you playing enough satellites? If you’re grinding your bankroll up, sometimes even a min-cash in a tournament you couldn’t normally play can have a huge impact.

Let’s say the biggest buy-in you’d normally play is $55. When you see the $530 Bounty Builder High Roller in the PokerStars lobby, do you simply ignore it? Next time, open up the tournament lobby and take a look at the satellite schedule. If one falls within your bankroll management rules, give it a shot.

That’s exactly what BBZ community member Robin ‘RobinVL’ Van Laecken did recently.

“I was having a horrible downswing so I decided to take a break from poker for a couple of months,” he says. “But every now and then I’d check in to see if any interesting tournaments were coming up.”

One, in particular, caught his eye: a $530 Bounty Builder HR running during a special KO week on PokerStars.

Van Laecken registered a $55 satellite which offered 10 seats and ultimately binked one. He was in.

The next thing he knew, he was heads-up with even stacks. “I eventually lost with pocket queens when my opponent had flopped a straight,” he says.

In a tournament that he could never normally play (“You’ll usually find me in the $5.50-$22 MTT range,” he tells us) Van Laecken ended up finishing second for $18,777. It’s his biggest online cash to date.

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Interestingly, this wasn’t the first time he’d had a huge satellite spin up.

Two years ago, Van Laecken also managed to win his way into the $5,200 NLHE Stadium Series Freezeout Grand Final, which had $5M guaranteed.

“The $5K was actually a way tougher route than the $530,” he says. He went from a $25 satellite, into a $215 satellite, and he won one of the 40 guaranteed seats.

“The experience of playing that event was a one of a kind for me,” he says. “At that point, I’d only played poker for a year, so it was way beyond my skill level. I made it through Day 1 but lost most of my stack on Day 2. Then I folded my way to the money on Day 3.”

Van Laecken ultimately secured a min-cash. But a min-cash in a $5K? That was worth $11,778, a huge score after just a year of playing.

“The competition was tough, but after I had played against the same people on my table for a while, I started to understand their game.”

Van Laecken now plans on purchasing the Lex Bundle to help him improve his game. After all, watching Lex Veldhuis’ stream–and seeing him win entry to big buy-in events through satellites–is what inspired him to play them in the first place.

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“I go full focus,” he says. “The only thing open on my PC at that time is that one single table and nothing else. There isn’t much to lose but a lot to gain if you manage to win a ticket. You can end up in a field that’s much stronger than you, but in those spots it lets you see how good you really are and what you need to work on.”

If you sometimes feel your attention drifting during your sessions, perhaps you should try satelliting your way into an event you wouldn’t normally play.

“It’s easier to remain focused on the game when the tournaments are way out of your buy-in range,” says Van Laecken. “A $5.50 tournament probably won’t change your life, but a $530 or a $5K definitely can, so you’ve got to play your best.

“Just go for it. You can do it!”

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