Satellite tournaments are tournaments that hand out as a prize a seat to a larger or more prestigious tournament, instead of cash. As any other type of tournament, satellite tournaments can be divided into several different structures, each with its own optimal strategy. What you will be doing here is different to what you will do when it comes to Multi Table Strategy or Sit and Go Strategy but you can use many of things you know from there.
In our case there are three main structures:
1. A tournament that awards only one seat on the next tournament, meaning that this is a winner-takes-all tournament. This type of satellite requires much more aggression. You must fight for every chip and never give up without a fight. Play smart but dynamic. If going all-in is needed then do not be afraid to do it. The luck factor in this sort of tournament is significantly greater and might be an aid to the less experienced player. A beginners mistake is to be too aggressive when you simply do not have to be. Don't take risks you don't need to be taking.
2. Tournaments that give out more than just one seat, in correlation with the amount of competitors. For instance, a tournament that gives one seat for every 100 players. If 500 people entered the tournament, 5 of them will receive a seat for the target tournament. Most of these satellites have somehow smaller buy-in then the ones in the next category. It is highly important to understand that in order to win in this type of satellite tournament you do not have to finish first and have the biggest stack. You only need to finish in a position that rewards you with the seat. The key to winning is trying to build an above the average stack in the early rounds and survive till the end by stealing blinds. In the first rounds of the tournament an aggressive play is recommended but know what the pot odds are when you are getting into a hand. You should not be afraid of confrontations in the early stages as your main goal is to achieve a decent stack that will hold you for the rest of the tournament. Later in the tournament people will be much more reluctant to attack you as they will know you can bust the out of the game. Get the edge early in the game, when gambling is less hazardous and survive in the subsequent rounds by stealing blinds with your strong stack.
3. Tournaments that hand out a large amount of seats. Sometimes a specific tournament can hand out one seat for every 15-30 players. These tournaments have substantially larger buy-ins, but so are your chances to achieve the goal. In this satellite a less aggressive play is desired. There is no point in risking your stack early in the tournament as there are not that many contesters you need to beat. Try to score a decent and reasonable stack, play smart and aggressive only in need or if opportunity shows it self. When you have a strong hand, be prepared to use it. Again, it is very important to steal as many blinds as possible. If you will survive till the last stages of the tournament with a larger then average stack, it is very unlikely that you will be challenged or confronted.
Article submitted by Alex Chamberlain, 12/12/2005