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Opening up your game in Satellite play
Poker wise I am not an expert on much but I think I can easily claim to be an expert on satellite play. The reason is simple, it is my best form of poker. I have won satellites for about 500k in big dollar events. I am a closer when it comes to satellites. What do I do different that separates me from the crowd? Itӳ simple, I play not only to win the seat I play to knock people out. Which is exactly contrary to what almost everyone who would teach satellite strategy would tell you to do. The key difference is that when I am trying to knock people out I am at no risk.
Here are a couple of ideas that I use.
1. For better or worse I am a home run hitter. I am constantly going for the knockout and I am comfortable being the lead dog. I want the chip lead.
2. Tournaments are about chip management. If you have a 200k chip lead on your next opponent who has 90k, you might be willing to take a few more risks and in my opinion you should because there just arenӴ enough people willing to step up to knock people out in satellites. Especially at the end.
3. The end game is where things get tricky because usually people have caught on to what I am doing and frankly they are a bit pissed. It is not uncommon for one or two people to get really aggressive with me. Though I am typically at a big advantage on them because I have huge chips and they donӴ, there all in plays can really neutralize my aggression. I tend to do a little more trapping at this point and try to play smaller pots, which once again I donӴ think most people would recommend. But remember all of this depends on having built up a good stack. If you donӴ have a good stack you would be silly to be trapping, you would be best off playing uncontested pots.
4. Uncontested pots is like poker nirvana. For me, the fact that I have won so many satellites puts me in a comfortable position against my opponents because I know when I get there at the end I am going to close more often than not. That is big leverage to have against a guy that might have qualified for $3 who is trying not to lose.
5. Go for the kill, if you have a hand like 44 in the big blind and an active player is raising a lot from the cut off play for the knock out. Of course if you re-raise him he might fold but that wonӴ get his whole stack. Winning stacks is what puts you in position to ultimately win the seat or seats. 6. Understanding concepts of leverage in tournament poker is the difference between being a winner and a loser but it gets amplified in a satellite. When you are in a regular tournament if you come in 6th place you might still win money, in a satellite paying only 2 spots you wonӴ. Here is an example. Letӳ say you are on the button with 2 stacks that are small in the blinds but not small enough for them to necessarily be all in, depending on your stack you might want to move all in on them as a rule. The percentages are in your favor that they will not have a hand that they can call with and in satellites people will even lay a hand like Ace Queen if it means they will be eliminated. By the time they catch on and call you hopefully you arenӴ dominated and have two live cards. Using the same example where the small blind has a big stack obviously you need to tread lightly, it is a very common play for the big stack in the small blind to re-raise a button raiser because most of the time they are going to be right.
If you had to say online players are this and live players are this I would think that my style fits in the live player category. Online players tend to want to win all uncontested pots which is possible but not always likely. So what I like to do is put people in a situation where they are uncomfortable. Post flop play is where I win most of these satellites.
Of course all of these ideas get scrapped when you are the short stack, you wonӴ always have the big stack but the fact that you will be willing to see flops actually puts you in rare territory for satellite players. Here is one of the keys that you want to focus on when you see flops, nothing is a definite, you do not have to play any one hand any one particular way. If I raise with a bad hand it doesnӴ necessarily mean that I will be making a continuation bet if I am called by someone out of position that checks to me. In fact, doing this occasionally sets up slow plays down the line.
Obviously all of this sounds easy but it is far from that. Situationally I have seen almost any scenario. The situation I see the most though is panic. Which is something I rarely do and what allows me to evaluate my opponents on the fly and gives me my edge. Most people know that aggression is a big part of winning poker but that is where their game ends. To be really good at something you canӴ have a formula, you have to be able to adjust on the fly.