Building a Bankroll with Satellite Tournaments

© 2006 Randy Saylor

Satellite tournaments are a great way to enter large tournaments when the buy-in is beyond your normal bankroll limitations; but did you know that satellite tournaments could build your bankroll, too?

The obvious way you can build bankroll in a satellite tournament is by actually winning a prize in the main tournament. If you invest $15 in the $5 rebuy satellite to the Paradise Poker $150,000 Guaranteed tournament ($200 buy-in), and finish in the middle of the money for a typical 30th place payout of about $500, you have just made more than 3000% return on your investment. This is nearly impossible if you buy in directly.

The lesser-known way to profit via satellites is by winning multiple entries to tournaments. Several poker sites offer a range of satellites to their biggest tournaments. Knowing the satellite entry rules of each site can help you work their systems to your advantage. The sites don’t care; they get their rake either way. Read on for some interesting facts you might have missed.

Party Poker

Party Poker runs regular sit-and-go and multi-table qualifiers for its largest daily tournaments. Satellite winners must play their first entry. Multiple entries are handled differently depending on the tournament.

The Friday Special ($200+15) and Saturday $200,000 Guaranteed ($200+15) have many satellites, and these have one excellent benefit: after you win one entry (which you must play), any additional entry you win is refunded to you in the form of $215 in your cash account. Winners are automatically registered for the next running of the tournament for the first win each week.

Super Weekday tournaments: $9+1 MTTs and $20+2 SnGs run regularly at Party to qualify directly into the Supers (Monday through Thursday). Satellite winners are issued a freeroll for the $150+12 tournament and enter the “Super” of their choice, so multiple wins only give you more entries to use as you wish for future Supers.

Sunday Million: Party Poker used to award cash for multiple satellite wins, but has discontinued the practice. This is unfortunate, because there are an amazing sixty-four daily multi table qualifiers (plus sit-and-go tables) for the Sunday $200+15 poker tournament. There have been many complaints about this change, so perhaps this moneymaker will be back in the future. Now multiple satellite wins just means the player is entered in the following Sunday’s event.

Full Tilt Poker

Full Tilt Poker does not have the same flexibility regarding satellite tournaments as other sites, but their token program and ability to advance in levels is one of the best. $26 and $75 tokens are won in qualifying tournaments, and can then be used to enter any $24+2 or $69+6 tournament.

$26 tokens are awarded in the following sit and go options:
- $4.40, 1 table, 9 handed, 1 winner
- $6.60, 1 table, 6 handed, 1 winner
- $6.60, 2 tables, 18 entrants, 4 winners
- $8.70, 2 tables, 18 entrants, 5 winners, turbo

$75 tokens are awarded in the following sit and go games:
- $11+1, 1 table, 9 handed, 1 winner
- $22+2, 1 table, 9 handed, 2 winners
- $24+2, 2 tables, 18 entrants, 5 winners

Note that leftover cash is awarded to runners-up. The 2 table, four- or five-winner SnGs provide excellent chances to accumulate tokens.

$26 or $75 tokens can then be used to directly enter MTTs or SnGs that award cash prizes.

Paradise Poker

Paradise does not have any special features that allow players to maneuver in and out of big tournaments, but they have one feature that might help most of all: notoriously soft satellite tournaments! Ask experienced tournament players about the quality of opposition in the rebuy satellites at Paradise, and you will likely be told that they are beatable. Even well bankrolled players interested in MTTs at Paradise Poker should play the satellites to get their entries paid cheaply.


UB recently introduced the Tournament Dollars function. This wonderful feature gives players who win a satellite tournament the option of unregistering from the target tournament and receiving Tournament Dollars that can later be used to enter different tournaments.

Currently, players are not permitted to sell Tournament Dollars, but transfer to friends is allowed.

Poker Stars

It makes perfect sense that the best all-around tournament site has the best options to qualify and earn profits in its satellites. If you win a satellite tournament at Poker Stars, you are automatically registered for the target tournament. If you are unwilling or unable to play that tournament, simply open the tournament lobby, and click “unregister”. Your account will then be credited with Tournament Dollars (T$) equal to the buy-in for that tournament.

The Poker Stars tournament with the most satellites is the weekly Sunday Million. There is a tremendous number of MTT satellites to this $200+15 event:

- $2.20 Triple Shootout, 6-max. Round One has six players per table, 36 tables. Each table is a separate sit and go table. Each of thirty-six winners advances to round two. Round two has six players per table, six tables. The six winners advance to the final table, and the top two players win.
- $3 Rebuy MTT
- $11 Double Shootout, Regular and Turbo
- $11 Turbo Rebuy MTT
- $36+3 MTT
- $36+3 Rebuy MTT

Each tournament runs several times daily, and constant sit and go qualifiers are running.

T$ are shown as part of your available balance in the cashier window but cannot be directly cashed out. You have three options to use T$:
- Buy into another satellite tournament in an attempt to accumulate more T$
- Enter any tournament that awards cash prizes
- Sell your T$ to any interested player

Any prize you win in a cash (non-satellite) tournament is credited to your account as regular cash, even if you used T$ to enter. If you have any T$ in your account when you enter a tournament, the T$ will be used before your regular cash balance is used.

T$ can be bought and sold. The going rate ranges from 92 to 96 cents per T$. There are even websites that brokers have set up to make buying and selling easier. They make a profit on the spread between buy and sell prices. This practice is completely acceptable to Poker Stars, so much that the client software facilitates the transfers. If you wish to sell me T$100, and we agree on a price of $95, then each of us goes to our Poker Stars software, as shown:

This opens the following dialogue:

The transaction is completely safe, since Poker Stars will not complete it unless both players enter the same details.

W$ are a specialized type of T$ that are used for certain tournaments and their satellite structures:
- World Series of Poker
- World Poker Tour
- World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP)
- European Poker Tour

There are quite a few players who literally make a living by winning online satellites. If you find you have some success at these tournaments, you might explore then as a way to seriously increase your bankroll.

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