What is a ‘Satellite’?
A ‘satellite’, or ‘satellite game’, is a poker match in which cash prizes are replaced by tournament entries. They are usually elimination contests with the top player or players getting automatic qualification into a larger cash tournament, either for a reduced buy-in or with the buy-in subsidised as a prize for the win.
Poker tournaments with large cash prizes are extremely popular and there is a lot of demand for access, but there are limited seats so play is often restricted to those with the best chance of success – proven players with history in the competitive game. However, there are a number of ways for newcomers to get in on the action. They can be invited or apply and pay the buy-in fee, though this is usually very large and therefore professional players can use their poker earnings to meet it. Another way to get into the action is to win in a ‘satellite’ contest.
Satellites, or satellite games, are smaller games affiliated with the main tournament and which operate under tournament rules. Satellite matches can take place in physical card rooms or at online casinos. Instead of playing for cash prizes, players are in the match in the hope of winning a seat at the tournament. Sometimes the single winner of the game will be offered a tournament seat, while in others the top ranking places will all get a chance to head to the main contest.
There is usually an elimination rule in satellite games, with players aiming to remove the competition from the table. Satellite winners might be offered some or all of the contest buy-in fee as their prize, in addition to being granted a seat in the main game. Others will allow access to the game but require that the player buys in at the going rate with their own funds.