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Jul 11, 2017

WSOP Satellites Haven’t Died – They’ve Just Gone Live

By RTR Dennis

665x200 jul17 wsop satellites

One of the driving forces behind the Poker Boom was WSOP satellites offered by online poker sites. As Chris Moneymaker showed in 2003, any layman can earn a WSOP seat for cheap, then win millions. Moneymaker and other similar stories fueled a poker segment that’s seen numerous players enter online satellites in hopes of WSOP glory.

These days have diminished, though, with fewer and fewer poker sites offering WSOP satellites. But this doesn't mean that these mini-tournaments have disappeared – they've just gone live. Let's discuss this matter below along with how players are winning WSOP seats these days.

"Satty" Section Filled with All Types of Players

Away from the bright lights of the Rio, where players battle for gold bracelets, you'll find the "Satty" section in the Rio's Pavilion Room. This area offers a revolving door of satellites that allow players to win seats to much-larger events.

You might think that the Pavilion Room is filled with amateurs. But there are plenty of pros looking to get cheap seats too. Some grinders see the advantage in playing against less-skilled amateurs as they try turning small entry fees into more-expensive seats.

Dean Freedlander, a psychiatrist from San Francisco, explained what kind of competition you can expect to see at the satellite tables.

“At each satellite table I find there's one or two really good pros,” Freelander said. “Maybe one who specializes in single tables, and then, relative amateurs. As you go down in price, you get a higher percentage of amateurs.”

Single Table Satellites are the Most Popular

While the Satty Section offers both multi and single-table satellites, the latter are by far the most popular. These let players get more volume in as they try for larger WSOP seats.

“I've played, probably, 70 sats,” said Matt Lambrecht, a Chicago-based player with a WSOP Circuit ring to his credit. “I just played the $1,500 today. I've played in several of the $1,500 [NHLE events], the bounty, the six-max.... And I'll be playing the main event, so I'm keeping lammers for that.”

You can count Freedlander as another player who enjoys entering the single-table events.

“I just love single-table satellites,” Freedlander offered, while adding that he’s still had fun despite a lack of success. “I haven't done that well yet. I've played a couple of $1,500 events. This year, I've only played about six [satellites]. I won one and chopped another. Last year. I was hitting two out of three. I'm good at math and I'm good at reading people.”

Great Way to Reduce Variance

Buy-in ranges for these satellites go from $125 to $525. And Lambrecht discussed his favorite buy-in ranges.

“It's the $275. I've played the $175's, the $275's, and some of the $525's.” he said, while adding that these satellites can be filled with variance. “The stakes you play, relative to what you have, what you're willing to risk. With the variance, these can be very swingy. But I've been running very well.”

William Mical, a Massachusetts-based player, agreed with Lambrecht's opinion that WSOP satellites are a good way to go.

It's a nice way to get into some bigger tournaments for short money," Mical explained. "I got to play a couple of the $1,500's, and I got my investment in those for under a thousand dollars each, so it's a good experience. I've played 15 satellites, and I've cashed in seven of them.”

Mixed Success – But Always a Good Time

Freedlander, Lambrecht, and Mical haven’t had major success this summer. But that hasn’t stopped them from enjoying the process of hunting for WSOP seats.

“So far I've played the Millionaire Maker and the Monster Stack. I'm planning to play a couple more of the weekend $1,500 and $1,000 tournaments,” said Mical, who’s yet to cash in a bracelet event. “If I was to win – I'm going to play at least one $1,000 satellite while I'm out here – then I'd try to get into the Main Event with that. Or, if I satellite into something and cash in it, I'll definitely play the Main.”

Despite the lack of cashes, Mical has done well in previous years. And he holds out hope that something will happen at the 2017 WSOP.

“I've had some small cashes in some of the deep-stacks events; I cashed in the Monster a couple of years back. Not this year.” He added, “But two of my partners that I invested in have cashed bigger and I'm doing well overall.”

For the time being, most WSOP hunters are just amateurs who have big poker dreams. This includes Freedlander, who sees patients from Wednesday through Friday during the WSOP, then flies back to Vegas to compete in more events.

But they can always dream that a satellite seat will turn into something much bigger one day.