At the World Series of Poker, it's the bracelet tournaments that get the majority of the attention. The WSOP, though, is far more than that, with cash games and daily deep-stack events and an entire single-table satellite area where players can attempt to win their way into a larger event at just a fraction of the cost.
To a certain extent, the “satty” section, found in the massive Pavilion Room, is a microcosm of the entire WSOP. From amateurs just wanting to say they've played at the WSOP to pros grinding out lammer wins in an attempt to enter larger events on the cheap, one can find a spectrum of players and skill levels at just about any table.
If you're going to use the satellite system as a way to work your way into larger events, you're going to play a handful of these single-table tourneys. The WSOP checked in with three different players who've spent a bit of time playing these satties of late.
Matt Lambrecht, a Floridian who now lives in the Chicago suburbs and who already has won a WSOP Circuit ring, has spent plenty of this year's WSOP in Pavilion. “I've played, probably, 70 sats,” he noted, using his winnings to enter several different bracelet events to date. “I just played the $1,500 today. I've played in several of the $1,500 [NHLE events], the bounty, the six-max.... I did the tag team with my buddy,” referring to Florida's Bryan Rosen. Lambrecht and Rosen logged a minor cash in that, worth $781 each. “And I'll be playing the main event, so I'm keeping lammers for that.”
As for his favorite buy-in level, of the range that runs from $125 to $525? “It's the $275. I've played the $175's, the $275's, and some of the $525's.” Lambrecht was mindful of his exposure to a downswing, always possible with the accelerated format of the typical satellite tourney, running one or two hours from start to finish. “The stakes you play, relative to what you have, what you're willing to risk. With the variance, these can be very swingy. But I've been running very well.”
At a nearby table, Massachusetts' William Mical offered similar sentiments. “It's been good. It's a nice way to get into some bigger tournaments for short money. I got to play a couple of the $1,500's, and I got my investment in those for under a thousand dollars each, so it's a good experience. I've played 15 satellites, and I've cashed in seven of them.”
Mical has targeted some large-field events with his satellite winnings, saying, “So far I've played the Millionaire Maker and the Monster Stack. I'm planning to play a couple more of the weekend $1,500 and $1,000 tournaments.” He hasn't cashed in a bracelet event yet, and is still searching for that first official WSOP cash, but he's still eyeing several upcoming tourneys, including the Main Event
“If I was to win – I'm going to play at least one $1,000 satellite while I'm out here – then I'd try to get into the Main Event with that. Or, if I satellite into something and cash in it, I'll definitely play the Main.”
The satellites are designed as a feeder system into the bracelet events, but a lot of players love the opportunity to play within a single-table format. For example, there's San Francisco-area psychiatrist Dean Freedlander, who balances his job with plenty of poker play while the WSOP is running.
“I just love single-table satellites,” he offered. Freedlander, too, has yet to connect on the big parlay by turning a handful of satellite lammers into a big bracelet-event score, but he's not complaining. “I haven't done that well yet. I've played a couple of $1,500 events. This year, I've only played about six [satillites]. I won one and chopped another. Last year,” he added with a chuckle, I was hitting two out of three. I'm good at math and I'm good at reading people.”
Freedlander also offered his take on the level of competition he faces. “At each satellite table I find there's one or two really good pros. Maybe one who specializes in single tables, and then... relative amateurs. As you go down in price, you get a higher percentage of amateurs.”
He's also not worried that his bracelet-event forays haven't come through as yet.” I've had some small cashes in some of the deep-stacks events; I cashed in the Monster a couple of years back. Not this year,” he added, “but two of my partners that I invested in have cashed bigger and I'm doing well overall.”
Freedlander keeps himself busy too, essentially doing a weekly commute during the WSOP. “I see patients Wednesday to Friday in San Francisco during the Series, and then I fly back here for the other days, right through the Main.”
The stories of Lambrecht, Mical and Freedlander aren't atypical. Hundreds of players use the WSOP's satellite offerings as a springboard into larger events and a hope for a deep tourney run. It's not glorious, but for a lot of players it's affordable and effective, all part of time well spent at the WSOP.