Online Poker Sites for Satellite Tournaments
The biggest online tournaments are expensive to play. The buy-ins start at $100 and are as high as $25,000 depending on the poker site and tournament.
That’s why you should play satellite tournaments. Satellites give you the chance to win a seat into a more expensive tournament for a fraction of the cost. But not all online poker rooms that offer them are worth playing at.
You’ll find the best poker sites for satellites below. We’ve vetted each one, so you know they’re safe, trustworthy, and reputable.
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Here are a few reasons why these are the top online poker sites for satellite tournaments.
- You can choose from variants such as step tournaments, shootouts, winner takes all, SNGs, turbos, and more.
- Win seats to online poker’s most exclusive and prestigious tournaments.
- You can win seats to live tournaments, too. This includes events such as the WSOP Main Event, WSOPE, Irish Open, and Aussie Millions.
- These poker sites offer satellites to big tournaments starting at buy-ins of less than $1.
We talk more about why we chose these sites in the next section. You should read it if you’re wondering whether you can trust our recommendations.
Then, we talk about one of our favorite satellite tournament variants. We recommend you play this variant if you want to get the most value for your time and money.
Last, we wrap up our guide with a section about live poker tournaments. You’ll learn what you need to consider before you play a satellite that awards a seat to a live tournament.
Let’s get to it.
How We Chose These Online Poker Sites
There are two challenges we face when we set out to recommend a poker site for a specific category.
The first challenge is ensuring the sites we recommend are a good fit. This page recommends the best poker sites for satellite tournaments.
This means every poker site must have the following.
- Satellite tournaments
Sort of. Most people don’t see or understand how deep these recommendations actually go.
For example, we don’t recommend just ANY poker site that runs satellites. Every poker site does that.
No, we like to dig deep during our research phase. We looked for satellite variants, a variety of stakes, and opportunities to win seats to tournaments people dream about playing.
That’s not all, though.
The second challenge we face is making sure every poker site we recommend is worthwhile outside of the category we’re recommending them for.
We accomplish that by researching the following areas.
- What is the poker site’s reputation like? How do they treat other players? What do their customers think about them?
- What deposit options does the poker room accept? Are their limits and fees reasonable?
- Do they pay out winnings in a reasonable timeframe?
- What kinds of promotions do they offer? Are their terms and conditions reasonable?
- Do they have a gaming license? What jurisdiction or gambling commission issued it?
The poker sites we recommend need to be strong in both categories. Otherwise, it makes no sense for you to join them.
Why join a site that sucks in the satellite tournament department? Aren’t those what you want to play? So, why not join a site that excels in that department?
The same holds true for joining a safe site. It makes no sense to join a poker site with soft satellite tournaments if they steal from their players.
The bottom line is that we spend lots of time and effort researching and testing every gambling site we recommend.
We do this to ensure that not only will you find what you’re looking for (satellites), but that you’ll have a safe and enjoyable time playing there, too. Our recommendations are genuinely the best sites to play poker satellite tournaments online.
Best Online Satellite Poker Tournament
There are a few different types of online satellites that you can play.
Each one has the same end result. They award you with a seat to a more expensive tournament for a fraction of the cost.
For example, back in the day, we used to play the $11 shootout satellite tournaments on PokerStars. The winner was given a seat to the Sunday Million, which was worth $215 at the time.
Satellite tournaments on their own are valuable. You don’t need to add or do anything else and you’d still get your money’s worth.
But if you want to get the most value for your time and money, we recommend you start playing step tournaments.
What Is a Step Tournament?
A step tournament is an SNG satellite. These tournaments are confusing for beginners, so we’re going to try to explain how they work here.
What makes a step tournament unique is that there are multiple steps or tournaments leading to the grand prize.
Each step tournament is different, but let’s say the one you’re going to play has six steps.
You can buy in directly to any step that you want. The buy-ins vary, but the lowest step is usually around $5. The highest step is usually around $2,000.
People who cash in first (and sometimes second) place will move on to the next step. They won’t have to pay any extra to play the next step.
For example, say you decide to start on the first step which has a $7.50 buy-in. You win that tournament, so then you get to play the second step (valued at $27) for free.
You play the second step and take second place and receive a seat to the third step (valued at $82) at no additional cost. If you keep this up, you’ll reach the last step (valued at around $2,000) at no additional cost. Win that tournament and you’ll receive the grand prize.
Of course, what’s more likely to happen is that you’ll fail to cash high enough to move on to the next step. This is where things get interesting.
Say you cash in third place instead, you’ll get to redo that step. If you cash in fourth, you’ll move down a step. And if you cash in fourth or fifth place (depending on the step), you’ll receive a cash payout.
This is what makes step tournaments so cool. There’s a ton of replay value built into the structure. You can play several tournaments, moving up and down the steps, while only having paid one buy-in.
This reason alone is why we recommend you play step SNGs. You’ll get a lot of entertainment value for your money.
And if you happen to win one of these bad boys, then you’ll get a lot of financial reward for your money, too.
Don’t Ignore Live Tournament Satellites
Step tournaments are easily one of our favorite satellite tournaments. There isn’t another variant that comes close to the value they provide.
Most people won’t win the grand prize. That’s okay, though. The next best thing is getting a lot of value for your money. Step tourneys offer this in spades.
That said, there’s another satellite variant that deserves your attention.
Live tournament satellites. These are tournaments that award seats to live poker tournaments.
Chris Moneymaker is the best example of someone who won one of these satellites and went on to win the tournament he won a seat to. That was the WSOP Main Event.
Moneymaker won the tournament, took home $2.5 million, and started the poker boom, which everyone calls the Moneymaker Effect. Not a bad ROI for a $40 satellite, eh?!
That’s just one example. Many people have won seats to live events where they continued to do well and cash for hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars.
There’s no reason why you can’t do the same.
What to Look for in a Live Tournament Satellite
Live tournament satellites vary. You need to do your homework before you play them.
The most basic live tournament satellites will award seats to a specific tournament.
For example, Chris Moneymaker played a $40 satellite. He won that satellite and the one that came after it, which led to a seat to the World Series of Poker Main Event. This seat is worth $10,000.
The prizes get even better than that.
Many poker sites nowadays offer live satellite packages. Those include some or all of the following perks.
- Entry into the tournament
- Money for airfare
- Money for hotel
- Extra money for food and entertainment
Take the WSOP Main Event, for example. Many poker sites offer a live satellite package with all trimmings. These are worth several thousand more than the seat itself.
For example, a WSOP Main Event package is valued at around $12,500. And we’ve seen packages worth anywhere from $12,000 to $17,000. It just depends on the poker site, tournament, and accommodations.
These packages are a great way to experience a live tournament. However, before you play one of these satellites, there are a few things you should be aware of.
- These packages are non-transferable. You can’t sell or give them to anyone else.
- You’re not able to exchange the satellite for tournament tickets or money from the poker site.
- Every poker site will have terms and conditions that you’ll have to follow for the live tournament. This includes whether they can use your likeness, if you need to wear their brand, and other odds and ends.
- The rooms, flights, etc. are for a specific duration, usually the length of the tournament. If you plan to stay longer, you’ll need to make arrangements and pay the additional costs.
If you’re unsure of whether you can go, it doesn’t make sense to play in one of the satellites. The exception is if you can find in their terms where they clearly state that it’s okay for you to sell or transfer your seat.
You also shouldn’t play in one of these satellites if you’re not okay with being on TV or wearing their branded gear. Both are high probability consider the tournament you’ll play and the opportunity for exposure for the poker site.
However, if your schedule is free and you have no problems with the poker room’s terms, then play away. There are plenty of live tournaments you can satellite your way into.
- PokerStars Caribbean Adventure
- WSOP Main Event
- World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE)
- Irish Poker Open
- Aussie Millions
- EPT / LAPT / APPT
- World Poker Tour (WPT)
- Party Poker’s MILLIONS North America
There’s more where these came from, too. We recommend you read our reviews if there’s a specific tournament you want to win a seat to.
That said, this is a good example of why it makes sense to have a few poker room accounts. The more accounts you have, the easier it is to find a live tournament (package) that you want to try to win.
Play Satellite Tournaments Online
Satellite tournaments are an awesome variant to play.
They offer you a chance to play in an expensive and prestigious tournament for a fraction of the cost. Chris Moneymaker is one of the best examples of this. He won a $10,000 seat at the WSOP Main Event for $40.
This is great for any poker player, regardless of your bankroll.
Players on a budget can win seats to tournaments they can’t otherwise afford. You can win a seat into a $100 tournament (or more) for less than $5.
Satellites are great for grinders, too. Even if they can afford to buy into the tournament, winning their way for much less reduces the variance they experience. It gives their bankroll an immediate break, too.
The bottom line is that there’s tons of value in playing satellite tournaments. We recommend you give them a shot.
The first step is to join a poker site. You want to find a site that has a large variety of satellites and is safe and trustworthy. They’ve got to have a reputation for taking care of their players.
We recommend you join one of the sites listed at the top of this page. We’ve vetted and tested each one, so you can be confident that they’re the best poker sites for satellite tournaments.