What Are Satellite Poker Tournaments & Which Ones Are the Best?

Last Updated on October 23, 2019 Author:Adrian Sterne

satellite poker tournamentsThe beauty of poker lies in various types of tournaments that bring all kinds of rewards for the best participants.

One of the most lucrative tournaments among online poker players is the so-called “satellite tournament“.

Essentially, satellite tournaments do not offer money as the final prize.

Instead, they provide an entry for another tournament which usually requires a much higher buy-in. This is a perfect opportunity for people who play poker and are on a budget to experience the atmosphere of big live poker competitions.

In this article, I’ll cover some of the burning questions related to satellite tournaments and explain their very nature. Some of the things you’ll learn about them are:

Should You Play Satellite Tournaments?

Before you even buy yourself a seat at a satellite, you need to ask yourself the following question — what do I want from poker?

There are many reasons why people play poker. Some want to earn real money, others want to test their skills, and some just want to have fun.

If you are looking for a quick buck and poker is your side hustle, don’t bother applying for satellites at all. Even the fast-paced ones tend to last longer than usual, and the final prize is not even cash. Although you might end up winning a pile of money if you do well in both the satellite and the target tournament (which was awarded via the satellite), you need to devote a lot of time and energy without earning any cash in between.

On the other hand, if your goal is to have fun, test your poker skills, and meet new people, then satellites are a perfect opportunity for that. In that case, make sure to read on how to apply for a satellite.

How to Apply for a Satellite Tournament?

choosing an online poker tableFirst of all, you need to find an online poker platform that offers a satellite tournament. Make sure to check out our selection, as several sites we feature include this type of competition.

Once you select a platform, navigate to the poker section (if a platform offers other gambling sections), and open an account.

Next, select your preferred payment method, use it to deposit money, and browse available satellite tournaments. Please take into account that some sites simply don’t have any contests of this kind available at the moment, which doesn’t mean they don’t offer them at all. In other words, you might need to check some sites from time to time in order to “catch” a satellite tournament.

You need to pay attention to several essential things when choosing an ideal satellite tournament.

# The Final Prize

Make sure that the final prize is a seat at a tournament you can actually attend. Many players apply for satellites that take place in some areas that are geographically far away from them. If you are in the US and the tournament is in the UK, make sure that you can afford to go there. Winning a satellite and not being able to make it to the tournament which was awarded to you as a prize is simply depressing.

Some prizes include a paid plane ticket and accommodations, while others just pay for a seat at the target tournament. That’s a very important thing to check, especially if you are on a budget and cannot afford flying half the world to play a high buy-in tournament.

# The Buy-in Amount

Some satellites have higher buy-ins, others come at a more affordable price. It’s up to you to make a selection based on your poker budget and your personal preferences.

What I’m trying to say is that you shouldn’t pay a higher buy-in price for a satellite that awards a seat at a tournament that you don’t even want to be a part of.

Best case scenario — you get to pay a very small prize and win a seat at a tournament you’ve always dreamed of playing.

# The Duration

You want to make sure what type of tournament you play in terms of duration. Some last for quite a while, others, such as super-turbo ones, are pretty quick. If you are confident about playing the turbo ones — go for it. On the other hand, if you don’t have experience playing such quick competitions, try finding normal-paced ones.

# Other Specifications

Finally, you need to pay attention to other important things that you would consider when applying for any tournament, such as type of poker (< href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omaha_hold_%27em”>PLO, Hold’em, and so on), stack sizes, level duration, additional awards, and more.

Tips and Tricks for Playing Satellites

Let’s take a look at some important tips & tricks that can enhance your satellite experience:

  • Look for tournaments that offer more than one entry — as previously mentioned, some satellites award more than one player with an entry to a bigger competition — the more, the merrier.
  • Do your best at the start, then focus on staying in the game — satellites that award many entries to a tournament are great because you can relax once the bubble bursts and you make it to the list of awarded players.
  • Take your chances — turbo and super-turbo satellites do not allow players to think about their actions, meaning that the element of luck plays a more important role, so feel free to play aggressively and take your chances.
  • Seek an alternative — satellites are not for everybody and, if you think that you are not fit for playing one such competition, make sure to explore other options on poker sites. There are various other types of tournaments out there such as MTTs, progressive knockouts, free tournaments, deep stack tournaments, and more.

Pros and Cons of Satellite Tournaments

Although they seem like a perfect opportunity for players to earn their seat in one of the bigger tournaments, satellite qualifying competitions do have a couple of disadvantages as well. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this type of poker contest.


The primary advantage is that you get to invest a small amount of money and earn much more than that if you do well in the high buy-in event. There have been several cases of players qualifying via online satellite tournaments and making a pretty good run in the live ones.

Therefore, getting a chance to take part in a high buy-in event is perhaps the second most important advantage of online satellite tournaments.

Finally, satellite tournaments feature both professional poker players and complete beginners. It’s an opportunity to test your skills in this game against all sorts of players.

To sum up, these are the main advantages of satellite tournaments:

  • Small buy-in/huge potential reward
  • Opportunity to play in high buy-in contests
  • Opportunity to improve your poker skills


Many poker players simply don’t like the fact that there are many steps that they need to take in order to get the final reward. In other words, satellites are so popular that sometimes thousands of players apply for them, meaning that it takes time before the whole thing is wrapped up.

In order to speed things up, many online poker rooms opt for turbo and super turbo tournaments. Many players who like to take it slow might not enjoy the speed with which these contests unfold.

Therefore, the two main disadvantages of satellite tournaments are:

  • There are too many steps
  • Some of them are too fast
  Contact Me

Hi, I am the Chief Editor of top10pokersites.net, this site is dedicated to all thing poker. I have been working around the poker industry for the last 15 years, with different brands. The main purpose of this site is to keep you uptodate with the industry and offer you the best deals around.

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