What is a Satellite Tournament? - Qualifiers and Satellites

Satellite and qualifier poker tournaments can turn a small initial bets into big wins. For poker players with limited funds, satellites build reputation and bankroll.

Definition of a Satellite Tournament

A satellite tournament is a tournament which doesn't just have a cash prize. Instead, the prize for winning a satellite tournament is entry into another tournament. A satellite tournament is played just like any other tournament. Satellites are also called qualifiers, as players who win one of these tournaments can qualify for an entry into a higher valued tournament.

Popularity of Satellite Tournaments

Satellite tournaments have become very popular online. A lot of online poker players want to play in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) but don't have money for the buy-in. By playing at their site's satellite tournaments, they can win a seat in one of the WSOP events. Especially in a case like a WSOP satellite, the tournament is often called a qualifier, as players who win these tournaments are likely the best players on that poker site, and they are most likely to win. When an online poker room sends a player to the WSOP and the player wins, the poker site gains popularity as the site that made that player a star. Be careful that when you sign up for a satellite, you don't promise too much to the site that might get you into the WSOP or the World Poker Tour.

Why Play a Satellite as Opposed to a Regular Tournament?

If you're just looking to build up a small bankroll, regular tournaments will give you the opportunity to grab a nice amount of cash for a relatively small buy-in. If you're looking to make it big in poker, then you'll need to get into the bigger tournaments. If you want to be a professional poker player, then playing small-time tournaments may pay the bills. On the other hand, if you win a bracelet in the WSOP, you'll take home a big chunk of cash. The cash is only the beginning, though. Players who have ranked high in the WSOP enjoy fame, and they can give celebrity endorsements to websites for money. Moreover, the fame that comes from just playing in a WSOP final event will get you into high stakes poker games that you can't get into just by playing online.

What if I Lose at a Satellite Tournament?

Sadly, if you lose at a satellite tournament, you won't get a free pass into the next level. There is an upside to this, though. If you can't win at a satellite tournament, you're unlikely to win at the next level. You should consider yourself lucky to only have lost a small buy-in if you lose at an early level qualifier. If you think that it's only luck that prevented you from winning, you can check and see if there's another low-level satellite available. Otherwise, you may want to buy directly into a higher level tournament. In either case, you should be sure that you're at the top of your game before you risk your cash on another tournament.