|Before (r); After (l)|
I played my first event Thursday night at the Poker Round-Up. It was a satellite, and I won it (along with around 46 other co-winners). The buy-in was $100 (plus fees), and the payout was a $500 voucher.
Playing a satellite requires a much different playing strategy than a normal freeze-out tournament. The differences are too vast to discuss here, but in general you want to play tighter. Much tighter. Really, really, really tight. After all, if they’re paying 47 players, it won’t matter if you have the largest chip stack or the smallest once the 48th player busts.
A surprising number of satellite players don’t realize this, including a whole bunch of the folks that were playing last night. They just played standard tournament poker (which, for many of them, wasn’t even that skillful to begin with). I’ve played very few satellites in my career, but I’ve been able to cash in around 2/3 of them, which is a decent result. I’d say the average player cashes in around 10-20% of the satellites he or she plays.
One hand in particular for me was a heart-stopper. We were roughly six or eight players away from the cash, and looking at my tiny chipstack, I realized there was no way that I was going to be able to fold my way into the money. I’d have to find a hand somewhere along the way to double up with, or I’d blind all the way out and leave with nothing.
The player on my right had a very large stack and was pushing folks around with it. I knew I was just going to have to take a hand and go with it. Then, it happened. Action folded all the way to the big stack, who was in the small blind (I was the big blind). He glanced at his cards and instantly shoved. I realized that he would do this with an incredibly wide range, and decided that if I had a hand that was better than a 50/50 hand versus something random, I’d have to push it. Say, Queen/Seven offsuit or better.
I looked down at the Queen of clubs/Ten of clubs, an above-average (but not great) hand, and called off my stack. My opponent turned over Seven of diamonds/Three of clubs. I’d have to say that this was probably the bottom of his range.
The flop cards were the Queen of hearts, Three of diamonds, Nine of clubs. So far so good.
Turn: Seven of hearts. Ugh.
River: Ten of diamonds.
Now, I’m normally pretty stoic at the poker table, but I couldn’t resist reacting to this particular run-out. I started yelling, “Suck and Re-suck! Suck and Re-suck!” and then started laughing. The double-up gave me all I needed to sneak into the money and outlast everyone else.
A few hands later, I picked up Ace of Spades/King of Clubs. Although I was tempted, I let it go. I figured I’d already won my voucher, and I didn’t want to screw it up.