888poker has recently launched The Dragon, a monthly $1,050 High Roller with a $200,000 guarantee. I think this is of particular interest to poker fans because I suspect it is probably the softest High Roller in the online space.
That is because 888poker does not host many high stakes tournaments (so fewer tough regulars will be on the site in the first place) and also because there is a generous satellite schedule.
Deciding Which Dragon Satellite to Play
I am the co-author of Poker Satellite Strategy, and if you have been following my guest posts in this magazine, you will know by now that game selection plays a significant role in satellites. A package satellite to the WSOP will likely play differently to a seat-only satellite to an 888poker LIVE event, and so on. Likewise, direct satellites to online tournaments also have unique nuances to them.
There are several satellites to play in The Dragon, but I wanted to highlight the 20-seat guaranteed satellite on the day of the tournament with a $109 buy-in. This tournament is by far going to be the most profitable satellite for a number of reasons.
Most notably the fact that it takes place on the day of the tournament. ‘Last chance’ satellites are always softer than the rest because there is a real element of ‘taking a shot’ to them, the last roll of the dice as it were.
Why Play the 20-Seat GTD Satellite?
The tough regulars have already bought into the tournament, and the experienced satellite regulars have already qualified. So, by comparison, the 20-seat guaranteed satellite should include a lot of weekend warriors taking a punt.
The generous guarantee of 20 seats also makes this more profitable in and of itself. Partly because you don’t need a huge stack to qualify (more on that later) and also there is more likely to be an overlay.
An overlay is magnified in satellites because the name of the game is outlasting the other players. As this is a $109 satellite to a $1,050 tournament, one in ten will win a seat. If there is an Overlay, let’s say only $10,000 is collected in buy-ins, then it is closer to one in five getting a seat. Without doing anything, an overlay means you have to outlast a significantly smaller number of players.
This factor is also why late registering is profitable in satellites and worth considering here. Without even bothering with the complex ICM calculations we do in Poker Satellite Strategy to highlight this if you register after 50 people have been eliminated, then that is 50 people you don’t have to outlast. Remember, the aim is not to win the most chips in a satellite; it is merely to survive the bubble.
Late Registration Could Be Your Ticket
If you late register at the last minute the blinds will be 300/600 and with a 5,000 starting stack that is just 8 big blinds, so if you do late register you need to be comfortable with variance and your short stack game. Given what we have mentioned about this potentially being a softer satellite if your deep stack game is your better game, it might make more sense to register at the start to extract more chips from the weaker players.
Maybe the most crucial adjustment for this satellite because of that 20-seat guarantee is when you can slow down. If one in ten players win a seat, with 5,000 starting stacks that means the average stack on the bubble will be 50,000. In Poker Satellite Strategy, we have calculations to estimate the stack you should aim for where after getting there you are better off folding your way to the money. Typically, we say that is about 70% of the average stack on the bubble, so in this case, that would be 35,000.
However, with 20 seats guaranteed, what tends to happen is that there is a much wider spread of stacks. You get some massive chip leaders and lots of players nursing very short stacks. So, in practice what this means is you can start to tighten up even sooner than 35,000 chips.
That is unless, as previously mentioned, there is an overlay. Then you have to adjust the target stack calculation. If the late registration period ends with an overlay, take the number of chips in play in the tournament and divide them by 20 (the number of seats). This calculation will give you your new average stack.
So, for example, if only half the buy-ins are collected and 500,000 chips are in play, the new average stack would be 25,000. Therefore, you could feasibly get to the money with 20,000 chips.
Be Prepared to Make Adjustments
The important caveat here is that you should be prepared to adjust this strategy. A long bubble, a deep structure or an unusual dynamic at the tables might mean you cannot rest on your laurels and fold your way to the money.
In Poker Satellite Strategy, we have a whole section devoted to how to assess your position in the satellite at any time based on the tournament lobby and other factors.
Finally, don’t forget that when you do win your seat, you will be parachuted straight into The Dragon, so be prepared to stop playing for a min-cash and start playing for The Win.
Barry Carter is the editor of PokerStrategy.com and the co-author of Poker Satellite Strategy.