9/3/09 – With the Aruba Poker Classic right around the corner I thought it was the right time to talk about satellite strategy. UB will be having many satellite tournaments for the APC, some with as many as 50 seats given away in 1 tournament.

The beginning and middle of a satellite tournament plays pretty much the same as any regular tournament you have played, but the end is so much different and it what separates good satellite players from bad. I've known many good tournament players who are lousy satellite players and vice versa.

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It is important when playing one of these to know what the end goal is. In this case it is a trip to Aruba. In the 50 seat guarantee, 50th place pays the same as 1st place. It is important to remember that down the stretch when you are closing in on a seat. In just about every satellite I play, I see big blunders. Plays that are perfectly ok in a regular tournament are huge mistakes in satellite tournaments. For instance, 63 players left paying 50 seats and you see 2 players in the top 15 getting all their money in AK vs. QQ. This seems pretty standard in a regular tournament, but in a satellite tournament it is wrong. There is really no reason for either player to be taking any risk, yet they both put it all on the line in a spot where neither need to play a hand.

The important thing to know in a super satellite as its coming down the stretch is where you stand. Knowing all the stacks and whether or not you need to play any more hands is key. Math becomes a big part in the end. Sometimes winning the blinds and antes 1 last time can get you the amount of chips you need to win a seat. As you gain more experience in satellites you will get a feel for end play and how many chips you will need to win.

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Something I do at the start of a satellite is to figure out what the average stack will be when the tournament ends. The reason I do this is so if I get over that amount I know I can take a lot of the risk out of my game and just try to play premium hands and maintain my stack.

If you are in a push or fold situation, it is important to push on the stacks that don't need to play any more hands to win a seat. I have folded Aces many times in satellites knowing that the only way I don't win a seat is if I play a hand.

Remember, unlike regular tournaments, folding the best hand in certain situations is correct in satellite tournaments. Hopefully you will be in a good spot nearing the end and you can let other players take all the risks.