2 Proven WSOP Satellite Sites and Winning Strategy

WSOP satellites run around the clock, both online and live, and you could earn your Main Event entry for as little as $0.01

WSOP satellites run around the clock, both online and live, and you could earn your Main Event entry for as little as $0.01.

WSOP satellites are an easy way for everyone to get their shot at a big money. When we talk about WSOP satellites, we primarily mean the Main Event qualifiers, although there are qualifying tournaments running for other, smaller events as well.

In fact, the man who contributed the most to the poker boom of the 2000’s, Chris Moneymaker, earned his Main Event seat through a $25 online satellite and, as we all know, things worked out pretty well for him.

Generally speaking, WSOP satellites are not only good because they offer you a shot at big bucks for a small investment but also because they are often filled with people who have big poker dreams, but their strategy doesn’t quite fit cut it.

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about WSOP satellites, from where to play to how to play to give yourself the best chance at winning.

What Are WSOP Satellites?

Everyone wants to be able to play in the WSOP.

However, most of us don’t have the $10,000 buy-in lying around that has been standard at the Main Event since 1970. The solution? Enter the WSOP satellite.

Basically, satellites are poker tournaments in which each player pays a smaller buy-in for the chance to earn a seat at a larger tournament.

For example, let’s say that there is a single-table WSOP satellite. There will be 10 players participating who pay $1,000 each to buy-in to the satellite. Since the total prize pool will be $10,000, one WSOP entry will be given away to the winner of the single-table tournament.

The poker room basically arranges this large skill-based raffle of sorts and takes out its entry fee for organizing the event.


Which WSOP satellites online are the best?

PokerStars is hard to top thanks to sheer size

As the leader in online poker industry, PokerStars offers the best and biggest selection of WSOP satellites. The buy-ins range from freerolls or FPPs qualifiers to $1,000 sit and go’s for those with deeper pockets.

The Passport package

Regardless of what qualifier you decide to enter, if you happen to win, you will receive the WSOP PokerStars Passport. The Passport entails $10,000 Main Event + $3,000 for travel and accommodation. PokerStars does not deal with buy-ins directly, so you would receive a lump sum of $13,000 in your account and have to take care of arrangements yourself.

Step system

The best way to earn your Main Event entry on PokerStars if you are strapped for cash is via Step tournaments. These single-table Sit and Go’s that start at $7.50 level.

Placing in the top two spots in these events will move you to the next step ($27) and so on, until you’ve finally earned your Step 6 entry. This is valued at $2,100 and you can turn it into the Main Event entry relatively easily.

The good thing about Steps is that even if you don’t finish in top two spots, as long as you finish third or fourth, you will get to to take another shot at the same level for free.

Since you will have to deal with a lot of variance to turn $7.50 into $13,000 the Steps system can make the journey a bit less frustrating and way less expensive.

PokerStars WSOP satellite Step chart

Step #Buy-in1st Place2nd Place3rd Place4th Place5th PlaceLink
1$7.50Step 2Step 2Step 1$1.50 Tourn. FundsRegister Now
2$27Step 3Step 3Step 2Step 2$7 Tourn. FundsRegister Now
3$82Step 4Step 4Step 3Step 3Step 3Register Now
4$215Step 5Step 5Step 4$185 Tourn. FundsRegister Now
5$700Step 6Step 6Step 5Step 5$430 Tourn. FundsRegister Now
6$2,100Main Event Passport (number of prizes varies)

Two of the best online poker rooms offering WSOP satellites are PokerStars and 888poker. Here, you will find a range of qualifiers tailored for every bankroll

Two of the best online poker rooms offering WSOP satellites are PokerStars and 888poker. Here, you will find a range of qualifiers tailored for every bankroll

888 Poker has the lowest buy-ins and is an official WSOP sponsor

Apart from PokerStars, another room you should definitely look into is 888 Poker. 888 is, in fact, official sponsor of the World Series so you will easily find a number of WSOP satellites tailored for every pocket.

Step system starts at a penny

Not unlike PokerStars, 888poker also offers a step system, but theirs is aimed directly at the WSOP Main Event, while PokerStars’ packages can also be used for other events. These Steps also start lower and you can earn your seat for as little as $0.01. That’s as cheap as it gets!

Of course, you can start at some of the higher Steps as well if you so desire. Step 6 is the last stage and features a buy-in of $160 and leads to $1,050 WSOP Main Event satellite. One package of $12,500 is guaranteed, regardless of a number of participants, while a new Main Event package is added for every extra $12,500 in the prize pool.

Of course, there are different other tournaments at both of these rooms running from time to time, but since this changes all the time, you will have to check the lobby to see what’s on offer. The Step systems, however, have been around for a while and are here to stay because of their popularity.

888 Poker’s WSOP Satellite Step Chart

Step #Buy-inPrizesLink
1$.01A Step 2 seat for every 10 playersRegister Now
2$.10A Step 3 seat for every 10 playersRegister Now
3$1A Step 4 seat for every 5 playersRegister Now
4$5A Step 5 seat for every 6 playersRegister Now
5$30A Step 6 seat for every 6 playersRegister Now
6$160A qualifier seat for every 7 playersRegister Now
Qualifier$1,050A WSOP package for every 12 playersRegister Now

How do WSOP satellites work?

Most satellites are actually multi-table tournaments with even smaller buy-ins.

These are usually held at online poker rooms, but are sometimes held at land-based casinos around the country. The number of seats given away in each tournament can be figured out by simple math. Most of the time, the online poker room will display it in the tournament lobby.

At a $100 buy-in satellite, they might say something like “1 WSOP Seat will be given away for every 100 participants.”. That means that if 900 people enter, the top 9 finishers will get a WSOP seat.

Unfortunately, that’s only a 1% payout as opposed to the typical 10% payout in normal multi-table tournaments.

A less economical, but more realistic, way of winning a seat is through larger buy-in events that cost about $500 to enter. While they’re pricier, the payout will usually be upped to about 5% of the field.

Guaranteed satellites

Sometimes, you can find guaranteed satellites, which can potentially be a great deal. The poker room might set up a $150 buy-in event and guarantee that 3 WSOP seats will be given away. If only 50 people show up, they still have to give away 3 seats even though they would need 200 people to play to break even on the prize pool.

These guaranteed events can give you great odds on your buy-in and allow you to battle a smaller field. To sum it up, satellite poker tournaments are a much more economical way for the everyday poker player to earn tickets to big events. Just be aware that you’ll be getting worse odds than most tournaments.

Be on the lookout for WSOP satellites offering guaranteed seats. These can give you the best value due to a possibility of an overlay

Be on the lookout for WSOP satellites offering guaranteed seats. These can give you the best value due to a possibility of an overlay

What is the best WSOP satellite strategy?

Satellite tournaments require a somewhat different approach in terms of strategy. If you’re playing in a typical $100 multi-table event that only gives seats out to the top 1% of the finishers, you’re going to have to play an aggressive game.

Many experienced players will play too tight in satellites

If you’ve played tournaments for a while you realize that overly tight players don’t often win tournaments. With modern tournament structures the blinds rise too quickly to reward excessively patient players.

Most often, tight-aggressive players who hit some premium cards and don’t run into any particularly bad beats will survive until the money or finish near the bubble. The keyword is survive.

Tight tournament players simply don’t pick up enough premium cards and don’t play in enough pots to build a monster stack and cruise into one of the top places. There are exceptions for when you’re getting hit over the head with the deck, but those times are few and far between.

More aggressive play is necessary

The fact is, to place in a satellite tournament, you’re going to have to be picking up pots, confusing your opponents, and putting the hammer down on weak opponents. Many players in these satellites play tight… don’t be one of them. Don’t let yourself be blinded to death and remember that No-Limit Hold’em is more about playing your opponents than your cards.

Pick up on the players at your table and learn who to avoid and who you can run over.

Keep in mind that this also applies to winner-take-all single-table events and I’ve seen many strategists advocate a super-aggressive style in this situation. However, you can play a little tighter and still have a shot at winning a single-table satellite.

There are plenty of maniacs who will do your bidding and bow out early on with weak hands. If you don’t have a premium holding just reserve your chips until the blinds force you to get into the action and go after the larger stacks.

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Josh H
Josh H
Owner and Editor-in-chief at Beat The Fish
A lifelong poker player who moved online in 2004, Josh founded Beat The Fish in 2005 to help online poker players make more-informed decisions on where to play and how to win once they got there. He hopes to cut through the rampant dishonesty in online gaming media with objective reviews and relevant features. Tech nostalgic. Cryptocurrency missionary. Still fondly remembers the soup avatar at Doyle's Room. You can reach Josh directly at support@beatthefish.com.
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