In praise of satellite qualifier only events

Ian SImpson
Ian Simpson

This month Unibet are doing a small promotion that will probably get missed by a lot of people but it is something I am a fan of. Their ambassador Ian Simpson has a €25 buy-in tournament with a €5,000 guarantee on November 29 and the only way you can play is by qualifying via a satellite. I qualified for €5 this week.

A €5,000 guaranteed event with a €25 buy-in is not much to shout about, but the criteria that the only way you can play is via a satellite is something I really like, and think has been underused in poker.

I’m not familiar with many events that have even used this criteria but in the UK we had a live event called the Grosvenor Grand Prix which did. It was always a fun event and it was a shame when it ended. Sky Poker had similar live events where they capped the number of runners and satellite winners were first come, first served, and they were also tremendous fun.

Does a lot with a little

The PSPC had a great atmosphere

For me a satellite qualifier only event does a lot with a little. First of all, it is probably going to be softer than the usual €25 buy-in events on the site. Serious players will have skipped the €1 and €5 satellites running up to it and as such it will be mostly made up of enthusiastic recreational players.

It’s also a great way for a site to harvest a bit of loyalty from the players. Not only will most of them have to play several times before they qualify but once you have invested a bit of extra effort getting to the event, you are going to take it more seriously. It’s also a good way to reward loyal customers as it basically is an event for them, not the serious players who play all the sites looking for value.

The fact that you will have played against the same pool of players several times trying to qualify also will create a sense of camaraderie among the players. You often see this in live tournaments when there was a mega satellite the night before, everyone who qualified ends up being chatting with the people who also qualified the next day in the Main Event. It’s not quite the same, but you saw this with the Platinum Pass winners at the PSPC, there was just something special about everyone having won their way there that made it such a unique atmosphere.

They solve the biggest problem…

late reg
Late regging and re-entries are not an issue

Perhaps the biggest single reason I like the satellite qualifier only events these days is that they solve one of the biggest issues of modern tournament pokerlate registration and re-entries. Whether you agree with them or not, there is a perception that long late registration and multiple re-entries allows a pro with deep pockets to swoop in at the last minute and gamble for a big stack. It really leaves a sour taste in the mouth for recreational players when a pro they view as not taking the event seriously busts them after late regging/re-entering.

That is not a possibility for a satellite qualifier only event. The pro player would have to put the effort in beforehand to get to the event, which they won’t, and they can’t re-enter even if they did.

At the end of the day, no site is going to put on a lot of events where so many people are shut out from playing, especially if they want to hit their guarantees. However, I think satellite qualifier only events are the sort of slow burner promotion that rewards loyalty while also putting on a soft, good value, tournament – the sort of thing that keep people coming back for more.

Do you like the sound of this format? Let us know in the comments:

Barry Carter

Barry Carter

Barry Carter is the editor of and the co-author of The Mental Game of Poker 1 & 2, Poker Satellite Strategy and PKO Poker Strategy

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