Poker Satellite Guide

poker on a mobile phone

The mention of satellite conjures outer space ideas doesn’t it? In poker, it is a way of entering a particular for tournament for a lower fee. Basically, you register for a SNG or tournament which rewards the winner or x number of players a ticket into a more prestigious tournament. In this article, I will offer some information and advice on how to approach poker satellite tournaments.

Satellites are for dreamers

The great thing about is satellites is that it offers those with smaller bankrolls the opportunity to play high buy in tournaments. Speaking from experience, I satellited into a WPT event and WSOPE event. Whilst I wasn’t able to bink a result in them, the experience of playing $10,000 + events and slow-structured events was invaluable.

Let’s not forget the most famous WSOP main event champion was a satellite winner. Chris Moneymaker won a satellite on PokerStars for $86 and went home a WSOP main event winner and millionaire. Not bad eh? If you’re ambitious and have time for satellites, give them a whirl. Satellites are available to players all over the world including some states in USA. Be sure to check out legal US poker sites first though.

Pros of Satellites

  1. You risk a small amount so if you don’t win it, no big deal
  2. The calibre of play is quite poor. Most players don’t make the proper adjustments
  3. If you get the seat, you have opportunity at lifechanging money
  4. They don’t take very long to complete. Most satellites are finished within a few hours.
  1. Turbo or super turbo structures are common so expect a lot of push/fold poker
  2. Some satellites have multiple rounds and can take a long time to secure the final tournament buy-in
  3. More luck based. This is just a fact. The faster structure means there is more variance and volatility
  4. If you chase a lot, you may find yourself playing many satellites to try and get in, which can be costly

How to Win a Poker Satellite

Winning a satellite tournament takes a combination of strategy, luck and risk. The tips below should help your chances.

Finding a Balance

In order to succeed at satellite tournaments, you need to find a balance between aggression and survival. The first thing you should do is look in the lobby and see how many seats are available. If it’s winner take all, then you need to adopt a more aggressive attitude, take risks and not be afraid to bust out.

Consider The Number of Seats

If there are several seats and awards, you can afford to take the foot off the gas a little. You still need to be aggressive and take calculated risks, but once you’ve established a decent stack, survival is order of the day.  

Picking Up Chips

As the poker satellite progresses, you must find opportunities to steal the blinds and keep your stack healthy. The last thing you want, is a short stack and find yourself with no fold equity and no threat. This means finding good re-shove spots and pushing around the short stacks who are trying to hang on.

Push/Fold More Important

Learning Push/Fold strategy will help you too. There are spots where you have to begrudgingly call and try to bust out opponents. This is true for normal tournaments too but not to the same extent as satellites where players have short stacks pretty quickly.


Poker satellites are a great way to play big tournaments. They give thousands of people the chance to play with professionals and earn millions. I am huge fan of them and recommend you give them a try. Please remember to employ bankroll management and only register if you are available to play the tournament! You’d be surprised at how many have to sell their seats due to work or other commitments.

This article was written in 2020 and has been updated.