There’s more poker going on at PokerStars than you could possibly imagine. Table upon table crammed into a virtual card room. Despite this unfathomable wealth of online poker action, the vast majority of PokerStars discussion is focused on the big tournaments. Media articles cover the likes of the Sunday Million and the WCOOP or talk about live tournaments like the European Poker Tour. Your average player could never afford to buy-in to one of these high-roller, high-prestige events, so the little guy doesn’t get a mention.
Low-stakes grinders and casual players are not left without hope however. Hidden behind the attention grabbing big tournaments sit hundreds of satellites. These small events award their winners tickets into bigger tournaments at a cut-price fare. If you have the patience and perseverance, you could even collect an all-expenses paid main event package to the EPT for as little as $2.22.
The PokerStars tournament with the most satellites is undoubtedly the Sunday Million. This regular tournament takes place every Sunday at 18:30 ET and is the undisputed king of weekly guarantees. The winner picks up a slice of its $1.5 million guaranteed prize pool and instantly becomes a well known name in the online poker community. The $215 buy-in is out of reach for most players, but thousands still pack into this event every week. Most of them don’t have the bankroll for such a large investment, they win their way in via satellites.
There are a huge variety of Sunday Million satellites. Everybody is catered for - from those high money players looking for a half-price ticket, to low-limit newbies with no more than a few dollars to their name. The quickest way to get into a satellite tournament is via the ‘Sit & Go’ tab. All the events listed begin as soon as enough players have registered. Many of them are single table affairs, but the cheaper options can run up to 6 tables. At the top end of the spectrum, the likes of the $112 Double or Nothing satellite award the top half of the 10 player field a Sunday Million ticket. Meanwhile, there are a multitude of busy $2.20 qualifiers starting every minute. There are buy-ins for every bankroll and the more you pay the less players you’ll have to surpass.
The success of the Sunday Million has led to a bevy of similar tournaments springing up in its wake. Events such as the Sunday Warm Up provide a further opportunity for MTT enthusiasts to win big money. The buy-in is another $215 and there’s a healthy $750,000 guarantee. Just like its big brother, the Warm-up funnels plenty of players in via satellites. Fourteen dollars is enough to buy you into an 18 player turbo qualifier, where the top finisher wins a tournament ticket. Other big guaranteed events on PokerStars all have their own satellites. Including the Sunday500, Nightly Hundred Grand, and Sunday 1/4 Million.
Cash Sit & Go’s aren’t the only way to win yourself a up-market MTT ticket. Multi-Table Tournament Satellites are just as popular as the S&G versions and there are events starting every few minutes. In contrast to the smaller S&G’s, these tournaments usually run with more tables and can therefore award more tickets. For example, the $11.70 satellite pays out a Sunday Million ticket to its top finisher, and another for every $215 in the prize pool. However, these events are so regular that fields rarely exceed the Sit & Go’s by much. In the end, choosing between Sit & Go’s and MTTs makes little difference.
When it comes to qualifying for live events, the satellites are almost exclusively MTTs. Once again buy-ins range from a couple of dollars to a few hundred, but there are more players to beat than in the Sunday satellites. The field sizes are nothing to write home about, most struggle to exceed 150 players, but they will still require an increased time investment. It could be worth that little bit of extra effort - win an EPT ticket and you’ll be on your way to London, Copenhagen, or Barcelona. All over Europe, the world’s elite gather to contest high stakes prize pools. For just $2.22 you could join them, competing for a slice of over $60,000,000 in prizes. The jewel in the EPT’s crown is the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA). There are more satellites for this Bahamas based tournament than any other EPT event and the chance to pocket a $15,130 prize package starts at just a few dollars.
There are plenty of other exotic locations to aim for. The PokerStars Asia Pacific Poker Tour is a venture that braves poker’s most lucrative new frontier. Asia is hungry for poker and has only a sprinkling of tournaments to satiate its desire. There are $5 satellites running every few minutes, with thousand dollar prize packages to Australia, China, and the Philippines up for grabs. It’s worth noting that, given the huge buy-ins involved in these live events, many of the smaller online qualifiers award a ticket into a higher level satellite. This means that if you’re starting from a budget, it will require a good amount of skill and luck to make it through.
The Latin American Poker Tour is one of the most recent additions to PokerStars’ worldwide event calendar. It stretches from Costa Rica down into South America, adding a dose of Latin spice to PokerStars’ well oiled live tournament machine. Anywhere from $2.22 to $190 will get you on your way to a prize package that includes flights, accommodation, spending money, and the $2,500 main event entry fee.
These huge tournaments are not limited to the live sphere. The World Championship of Online Poker is renowned as the internet’s most prestigious poker festival. World class players from the live and online worlds collide to play for combined prize pools that exceed $40 million. The series takes place in September, so over the summer PokerStars becomes awash with numerous satellites to the 45+ events. Similarly, the new Spring Championship of Online Poker draws in the satellite hunters in their millions. This April series runs three levels of buy-in for each event, meaning that low stakes players may be able to buy into a SCOOP tournament straight from their bankroll.
Unarguably the king of satellites is the World Series of Poker Main Event. PokerStars and WSOP satellites have a rich history. Poker-boom progenitor Chris Moneymaker qualified for the 2003 main event through a $40 satellite on PokerStars and is now a sponsored pro. Main Event winners have a habit of signing on with PokerStars. Joe Hachem, Greg Raymer, and Peter Eastgate all form integral parts of Team PokerStars Pro. As soon as Harrah’s has confirmed the next WSOP schedule, satellites will start to run non-stop. Whatever your bankroll, there’s sure to be a chance for you to win your own seat.
The simplest and easiest way to get yourself into a PokerStars satellite is via a cash Sit & Go or Multi-Table Tournament. However, there are a few other less conventional options that are worth a look. Everyone who plays real money games on PokerStars will be generating Frequent Player Points (FPPs). These can be used to clear bonuses and buy items in the shop, but perhaps their most lucrative use is for satellite buy-ins. For almost every kind of cash satellite there will be an FPP equivalent. For example, the Sunday Million features 375 FPP and 1FPP satellites, among others.
There are also Step tournaments, which usually arrive in the form of 9-player Sit & Go’s. They differ from the standard S&G in that the top finishers win tickets to advance to the next level. Anyone who wins a Step 4 ticket can redeem it for a Sunday Million (or other $215 buy-in) event. Or they can keep progressing up to Step 6, where EPT, LAPT, and APPT packages are on offer. If you fail to progress at any level, but still manage to finish in the top half, there’s a good chance you’ll be given another shot to restart your challenge at a lower level. Some live events (especially the WSOP) have their own unique Step system. You can buy-in to a Step tournament at any point, allowing players to start at a level suitable for their bankroll. FPPs can be used to purchase tickets up to Step 3.
With all these tournaments to qualify for and a myriad of different ways to do it, the regular poker player has plenty of chances to compete on poker’s biggest stage. The depth and breadth of PokerStars’ online and live tournament calendar ensures that their selection of satellite events is unparalleled. Low limit players no longer need to look up in envy at the freewheeling high stakes players as they cavort their way towards massive paydays. At PokerStars, every player has a chance to win big.
The following is a list of some the most popular regular satellites on PokerStars: