An Exciting Satellite Lesson
© 2006 Randy Saylor  

Sometimes we make good plays that don’t work out well, and sometimes we make bad plays that turn out for the best. Recently I made a play that seemed proper at the time I made it. I actually thought another player had made a serious error, and I wanted to check that carefully for future reference. In fact, I learned that I was the one who had really messed up.

Turbo Rebuy Satellite

Low-stakes rebuy tournaments have a reputation for being crazy poker already. Turn that rebuy MTT into a turbo, and “crazy” is the understatement of the century. In the typical turbo tournament, the blinds increase every five minutes. In a standard online MTT, the increases happen every 10, 12, or 15 minutes. At the point of the crucial hand, the blinds in this turbo had already reached level twenty less than two hours into the tournament.

This was a $3 turbo rebuy satellite to the Party Poker Sunday Million. The target tournament costs $200+15 to enter. Although I had determined previously that I would play this particular Sunday Million, I always intend to win a satellite if possible. Investing $50-100 in three or four satellites is always better than paying the full buy-in!

For every $215 in the prize pool, Party Poker (like most other poker sites) awards one seat in the target tournament. In this case, there were about 80 entries. With the rebuys and add-ons, the prize pool was enough that eight players would win a seat. Ninth and tenth places would each win some of the leftover cash, but no more than $20. I had $15 invested, so there was no way I was playing for ninth here.

The Final Table

As the bubble to determine the final table broke, I felt pretty good about my chip stack, despite the rapidly climbing blinds. The chip counts were as follows:

I was sitting in seat nine. The blinds were at 30,000 and 60,000, and the ante was 1500 per hand. At that level, it costs 105,000 chips for each orbit of the table, but remember that eight of these players are winning this tournament. It makes no difference to me if I finish first or eighth.

With the button on seat three, I will be in the big blind four hands from now. If the blinds increase once before they get to me, I believe that I will still have enough chips to get through the blinds. Four of the five players to my left have short stacks, so the likelihood is high that two of them will be knocked out before I take the blinds again. (Oh, little did I know!)

The first four hands were uneventful for me, but seat ten had an interesting hand. With the button on seat six, seat ten was second to act preflop. Since he would be all-in in two hands, he needed some chips fast. He made a good play by calling all-in with A7. This is probably as good as a player could hope for with only two hands left. He was called by a big stack with A8 (unlucky) but caught two pairs on the flop (very lucky). This doubled him up and hurt me, since there was one fewer small stack at the table.

Hit by the Blinds

The next hand, I was in the big blind. The blinds increased, so they were now at 40,000/80,000, with 2000 antes. These were the counts:

After posting the ante, seat one only had 5801 left. Second to act preflop, he went all-in (but it wasn’t a raise, since the big blind was 80,000). Every player then folded to me in the big blind. I didn’t have to call, since I had seat one covered. There were 145,801 chips in the pot, but the most that seat one could win was 37,403! Even if I lost the hand, I would still get 108,398 back! This was a lucky break for me. It turns out that my 72 offsuit lost, so seat one stayed alive.

Three players should have called on this hand. The best strategy for a flat payout tournament like this is for the big stacks to cooperate to knock out the small stacks. Although it should not be discussed at the table (collusion), satellite players should learn the strategy. Seats three, five, and seven should have limped in once the short stack went all in. With me (in the big blind), we have four players “cooperating” to beat one. As it turns out, seat one was holding T6 and would have been easy to beat (but my 72 couldn’t do it). The proper move is for all four players to check the hand all the way to showdown. Knocking seat one out is more important than winning the hand.

Seat one caught some more luck on the next hand. He went all-in under the gun and flopped trips for a big win. I made it through the blinds with most of my original stack intact, but I would be in trouble if it came around to me again. (It did. Read part two for the exciting finish.)

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