SNG Satellites – Your Guide to 1-Table Online Satellite Qualifier Strategy

Having Just 1 Prize In A SNG Tournament Drastically Affects Your Strategy
– I Explain How To Profitably Adjust

Most online poker sites offer Sit N Go Satellites, often awarding seats to their larger buy-in Multi Table tournaments as prizes. These have a range of buy-in prices and usually have just the single paid place. This article will cover your approach to SNG Poker Satellites and looks at how late game strategy differs from a standard SNG to make your SNG satellite experiences more profitable.

The first thing to note is a small paradox. Your opponents in these events are less likely to understand ‘good’ Sit N Go strategy… these games attract a lot of recreational players - the paradox is that this can sometimes actually benefit them!

Let me explain, while sound SNG play involves staying tight early to maintain your Fold Equity (ability to get opponents to fold) for the bubble, single table satellite structure actually means you are in more danger if you get ‘left behind’ chip-wise for the late game.

Pushing all-in late in a normal SNG relies on the fact that the 'equity' you risk by losing your chips is far bigger than the potential gain in prize pool equity from doubling up - meaning you need a far better hand to call than to push all-in yourself - see our introduction to Poker ICM for more on this area. In a Sit N Go Satellite paying one place chip equity is equal to dollar equity… you need every chip! This means that as long as you feel you have an edge vs your opponents pushing range then a call is profitable in the long-run.

Back to the paradox - this in turn means that your opponents seemingly ‘bad’ calls are often correct from a math standpoint, whereas in a normal SNG paying 3 spots their 'loose' calls would lose a lot of money over time!!.

Having said that the gap concept (needing a better hand to call a raise than to open raise with) still holds true. The key to single table satellites is to assess your opponents and work out who shows no fear and who will not commit all of their chips in case they bust out early.

I run through the stages of a Sit N Go Satellite below:

Poker Satellite SNG Strategy - The Early Levels

Suited connectors, small pairs and suited aces become more playable than in a normal SNG… the need to accumulate chips becomes more important than maintaining Fold Equity. Implied odds are higher due to the fact that, on average, your opponents will be less skilled than in the equivalent SNG - meaning you'll often be able to win a big pot when you do hit your hand.

Use the early levels to watch opponents closely, who overplays ace-rag? Who will go to showdown with weak holdings? and who will fold after opening a pot? Is there anyone who raises different amounts with different strengths of hands? Who is aware of the power of position at the table and who will happily build a pot when out of position?

Planet Mark’s Rec: The Easiest Sit and Goes Online are Over at America’s Cardroom!

You can use them to grow a bankroll, qualify for online tournaments, or even to help you win a seat in the World Series.

Instead of tables full of ‘regulars’ who know the math, bubble strategy and hand ranges, ACR Poker is recreational. Compare the fields to the bigger sites, and you will quickly see how soft they are for yourself.

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ACR Poker Mark's Rec

Poker Satellite SNG Strategy - The Middle Levels

Start raising and re-raising weak players here (especially those who have shown that they are able to fold). You need to maintain the chip accumulating strategy. Having said that make sure you do not pot-commit yourself against weak players by raising too big a portion of your stack without solid values. If the table lets you steal then take advantage of this, when someone eventually decides it is time to 'take a stand' you might just have a great hand!

Open pushing can be effective with stacks of less than 10 Big Blinds – be aware of opponents stack sizes here (very small or very large stacks in particular are more likey to call you). Use the reads gained from the early game – people who over-play ace-rag are more likely to call your all-in with exactly this type of holding!

Poker Satellite SNG Strategy - The Late Game / Bubble

We already mentioned that chip equity and prize pool equity are equal when only one spot is paid. This simplifies the calculations for profitable all-in pushes in the late game. Give your opponent a range of hands which they will call with (for example 15% to 20%), count the blinds and winning chances if called then push all-in if you have a positive expectation!

For example you have KQ and an opponent who will call with 20%, the blinds total 600. If you push then you win 600 80% of the time and have approximately 50% against your opponents calling range (you can easily work out equity calculation for different situations with an odds calculator such as Poker Calculator Pro). The numbers for 100 attempts assuming 3000 chip stacks after posting  look like this.

80 Times you win 600 chips = 48000

10 Times you win 3600 chips = 36000

10 Times you lose 3000 chips. = (30000)

(48000+36000-30000)/100 = 5400 chips

You have a large positive expectation against this opponent. Remember that calling ranges are often lighter than in standard SNG tournaments. If we were dealing with a standard SNG bubble your opponent would need 70% winning chances against your range of pushing hands to make a positive expectation call – here he only needs to be slightly ahead to make a call profitable.

Many Poker Rooms offer Single Table SNG Satellites, you will find information on specific events (both live and online) that you can qualify for in our dedicated Poker Satellites section - or why not try out some of the recommended rooms below for a chance at qualifying for tournaments with truly life-changing prizes!.

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