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Tournaments that pay winners with entry to a larger event rather than with cash can be uniquely profitable. Some are winner-take-all affairs that capture the benefits of a top-heavy payout structure discussed above. Though these are high variance, they offer a marginal boost to ROI relative to a flatter payout.
Satellites that pay multiple spots represent the opposite end of the spectrum, a completely flat payout, and can also offer a unique edge. When navigating the bubble of these satellites, players who do not adapt in sometimes counter-intuitive ways can bleed equity to their more knowledgeable counterparts.
Satellites can create bankroll dilemmas, however. Some internet sites will offer a cash equivalent in lieu of a seat, but generally a player who is not bankrolled to play tournaments with larger than $20 buy-ins should not play $20 satellites to $100 tournaments, since he may not be a winner at the $100 level and regardless will experience much higher variance in his payouts than he would from other $20 tournaments.
For players looking to take occasional shots at high buy-in tournaments, especially high profile events that may be uniquely enjoyable or profitable, satellites can make such an opportunity affordable. The edge from the satellite itself is an added bonus. Unless there is an option to cash out the seat, however, tournament professionals should be wary of regularly playing satellites at the limits of their bankrolls.