In 2003, Chris Moneymaker, an accountant from Tennessee, came from out of nowhere to win the World Series of Poker. This single event changed the face of poker forever. One of the things that made this accomplishment so phenomenal was that Moneymaker was a rank amateur, even referred to on the Espn broadcast of the event as “dead money,” meaning a player who had no opening to win and was just donating their entry fee to the pool. The other thing that made his win so distinguished is that Moneymaker got into the main event with a buy-in of only . How can this be? The entry to the main event at the World Series of Poker is ,000! What was Moneymaker’s trick?
There was no trick. Moneymaker took advantage of the satellite tournament system, straight through which anyone, even you, can win a seat to a major tournament for or even less.
The idea of a Satellite tournament was born in the 1970s, when Eric Drache, Director of the World Series of Poker at the time, was trying to generate entries. He noticed that while many personel players did not have the ,000 entry fee, there was often that whole on the table where they where playing. Why not have the players put it all on the line, winner take all, giving the last man standing a shot at the World title for only the thousand or so dollars that he bought in with? The idea caught fire, and satellite tournaments were born.
In a basic satellite tournament, each participant puts up ten percent of the cost of a larger tournament, with a small extra fee for the organizer of the satellite. For example, to win a seat at a ,000 event like the World Series of Poker Main Event, ten players would put up ,050. They would then play until one player had all the chips, with that one player earning a ,000 seat out of the prize pool (,050x 10=,000 for the seat and 0 for the House).
Still, ,000 is a petite steep for some people, and it’s a lot more than . So how did Moneymaker do it? He took advantage of two other types of satellites. Step Satellites, and Super Satellites. A Super Satellite is a satellite with more than one table that awards as many seats as there is prize money. For example, in a Super Satellite to a Main Event, the organizer would award one seat for every 200 players (200×50=,000). In a Step Satellite, winning or qualifying in a small satellite wins you entry into a larger satellite. Winning the larger satellite gets you into the Main Event. This was Moneymaker’s route. He paid to enter a Poker Stars satellite for which the prize was a 0 Super Satellite seat. Finishing in the top 3 in that tournament earned him his World Series Seat, which became worth .5 Million.
Can you win a seat to the World Series of Poker for ? Sure you could. But how would you like to win a seat for, say, nothing? Believe it or not, it can be done. Go to a major online poker site and look for “Wsop Free Rolls” This will show you how you can play in a tournament that can earn you a seat at the World Series for free straight through Satellite play. Keep in mind that the higher the entry fees for a satellite, the easier it will be to earn your seat. The lower the buy-in, the more players you are likely to face, the more steps you may have to get through, and the fewer seats that will be awarded. That aside, satellites are the most democratizing highlight of modern poker, and because of them, even those of the most modest means can find themselves sitting next to a billionaire at next year’s World Series of Poker. Why not you?