2015 Battle of Malta: Beating the satellites

Play in the 2015 Battle of Malta without breaking your bankroll – we show you how to cruise through the online satellites

Satellites are tournaments that reward a certain number of people with a seat in a bigger buy-in event. Think of them as a sort of pyramid scheme. At the bottom of the BOM ladder you’ve got freerolls with lots of people trying to get one rung up the ladder. At the top you’ve got the Weekly Finals, with much smaller fields and direct entry into the big money tourney.

Unlike standard tournaments, there’s no sliding pay scale. everyone who ‘wins’ a satellite gets exactly the same prize. So, if you’re playing in a 500-man satellite tournament and 50 players win a ticket, it doesn’t matter whether you are chip leader or sitting on one chip when the 51st player goes out – you’re still a winner.

Tactics in satellites are very different from a standard freezeout tournament, for the simple reason that you’re not playing for first place. There are winner-takes-all satellites, but most of the time there are a number of seats up for grabs and you should adjust your play accordingly.

Regular satellites

The most common satellites reward the top 10% of finishers, so if 100 people play, you have to finish in the top ten to win. The key here is to play your normal game. Don’t risk three-quarters of your stack with A-K. Steal the blinds from the players you can steal from. Play your big pairs aggressively. Race in situations where your opponent’s stack only represents a small percentage of yours. Try to play a lot of small pots and only play big pots when you know you have the best of it.

Let’s look at two example scenarios when you’ve got A-K. In each case, there are 100 players left with the top 20 winning seats. You have an above average stack of 50,000 and the blinds are 500/1,000. You are in the BB.

Scenario 1

A short-stack has moved all-in for 9,000. everyone else has folded. This is a perfect situation to play with A-K and you should go ahead and make the call.

Scenario 2

An early position player with a 60,000 stack has raised to 3,000. A middle position player has moved all-in for 30,000. In a conventional MTT, you can make a good case for playing A-K here. However, in a satellite this is a situation you should avoid. While there is a chance you are ahead, the fact that the call is for more than half your stack – as well as the fact that you still have the open-raiser to act behind you – make this an easy fold.

Remember that your aim, above all else, is to keep your chip stack around the average. If you manage this then you’ll coast through the bubble without a sweat. If you manage to get hold of a big stack by picking up cards then you can tighten up and prey on the weaker players and short stacks, especially when you get towards the bubble.

Freerolls/winner-takes all

There are satellites with only one prize up for grabs, or a relatively small number compared to the field (like the BOM freerolls). If you enter one of these you’ll need to play differently again.

In both, but especially in winner-takes-all tournaments, it’s critical to build a big stack early on. Don’t be scared to get into confrontations and if you do manage to build a stack you need to use it to bully the other players and keep your momentum going.

The good news is that in the freerolls you’re going to find a bulk of weak players who are just making up the numbers. These are the players to target and the ones who are hopefully going to build your stack up to a size that will let you play solid poker through to the bubble. The best tactic to adopt at the start of these freerolls is to see as many cheap flops as possible. Weak players are unlikely to be able to drop top-pair hands and will enable you to double through if you flop two pair or better.

Progressing in a satellite like this, where the numbers are against you, is a lot harder than a regular satellite. However, the rewards are much greater and you can afford to loosen up and gamble. Be prepared to get your money in with big draws, show people that you’re not going to be pushed around and target weak players.

After the first hour a lot of the weaker players will have been knocked out and the blinds will be up to the level where seeing cheap flops isn’t really an option. This is the time to evaluate your stack and push through to the bubble by playing solid poker. An hour of play should also be enough to mark out which players you want to tangle with and which are better left alone.

On the bubble

The period approaching the bubble is an absolutely critical point of any satellite. Thankfully, it’s extremely easy to make the right decisions and avoid serious mistakes. Remember that your goal is simple: outlast other players. Let them make the mistakes and don’t put your life on the line needlessly.

Here’s a good example of something you should never consider doing. It’s folded to the button who has 12 times the big blind. the tournament is three spots from ending and the button has more chips than eight of the remaining players. The blinds have about the same size stack as the button. The button looks down at A-9 and decides to try to pick up the dead money knowing they will fold nine times out of ten. He moves all-in, runs into pocket Kings and is eliminated. Unlike a tournament, chip accumulation during the bubble is not crucial – survival is. While open-shoving with A-9 on the button with 12 big blinds is a no-brainer in a conventional tournament, it’s not an option here.   

Here’s a more extreme example. You’re second in chips with 32 players left and 30 get paid. You get aces in the big blind and the chip leader in the small blind open-shoves on you. Yes you’ve got the best hand, but the correct move here is to fold. If you fold you’ll win 99.95% of the time just by folding every hand. Call with Aces and you’ve probably got a 15-25% shot of going out.

The key on the bubble is to look at your chip position and compare it to the other players. If you have a huge stack you can use it to bully the short stacks or even click sit out! If you are in a comfortable position, there is no need to get involved with all but the best hands and only against stacks that can’t cripple you. If you have an average stack but are above the threshold needed to win the seat, again there is no reason to get involved, although it’s important to keep an eye on the bubble as the tournament moves on. With blinds very high at this point, and most hands getting decided preflop with shoves and folds, the button moves around the table quickly and you can find yourself being dragged into the danger zone.

Whatever you do, don’t let yourself get to the position of playing the short-stack if you can avoid it. Everyone will be gunning for you and if you let your chips run down too far you’ll find that your small shoves will be called by two, three or four people, in the knowledge that collectively they’ve got a good chance of knocking you out.

The bottom line is that if you are in danger of being eliminated or moving to a position where you might be eliminated, you can’t be afraid to play hands and getting your chips in first is key. If you aren’t in danger, let other players panic and make the mistakes. Trust us, they will.

Money matters

Start with a good plan and save your bankroll

  • If you’ve set your mind on winning your way into the Battle of Malta ask yourself how much money you are willing to spend? Start with a budget and stick to it. There’s no point spending more than the buy-in to qualify!
  • With daily freerolls across Betsson, Triobet, NordicBet and Betsafe, why not try a few of these first? There’s nothing more satisfying than getting into a big live event for free!
  • If you’re struggling to get out of the big-field freerolls or the €3.30 Level 1 satellites, the €27 Level 2 satellites give you a great shot at reaching the Weekly Final.
  • Can you afford to budget for one or two shots at the €175 Weekly Final? With one in ten qualifying to BOM from each of these, they’re your best shot at the €1,550 package. Follow these winning satellite tips and you can swing the odds even further in your favour. Good luck!

Now put this strategy into practise and win a €1,550 package to the 2015 Battle of Malta in our exclusive freeroll here.

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