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‘Poker Satellite Strategy’ by Dara O’Kearney and Barry Carter | #233


Sky Matsuhashi

on April 28, 2019

I review ‘Poker Satellite Strategy’ by Dara O’Kearney and Barry Carter and I give you 3 of my favorite action steps that I took away from this book.

In case you missed episode 232, I reviewed Ed Miller’s book, ‘Poker’s 1%’.

Get Poker Satellite Strategy.

Poker Satellite Strategy Review (3:40)

Loved this book. I bought it as a Kindle book for $9.99, what a deal!

It does speak lots of GTO strategies, but there’s also plenty about exploiting opponent’s and situations based on positions and stack sizes and how likely they are to fold or call or shove their stacks.

My notes document is 12,285 words and 13 action steps: 7x Play and 6x Study, and here's the Top 10 for you:

Introduction: How to Get the Most Out of This Book

I like how they make certain assumptions about the readers and explain all this.

They also structure the book in order of relevance.

Chapter 1. Why play satellites?

The best reason is so that you can play in an event beyond your bankroll for a fraction of the price.

But there are some secret reasons to play satellites:

  1. They frequently miss their guarantee
  2. They are good ways to make money.
  3. The best reason is because they are the softest form of poker. Recreational players make a ton of mistakes and MTT regulars do as well.

Chapter 2. Satellites in 30 Minutes

I like how they’re doing this quick and simple MED’s of satellites chapter.

7 quick and easy points of improvement, my favorite is…

Play Tight and Reduce Variance

You are playing for prizes of equal value, there is no additional value for having more chips when the bubble bursts. Having 60% of the chips and play or only 3 bb’s doesn’t matter. Winning a ticket to the bigger event is winning a ticket.

In general, tighter players will win more seats than the looser more aggressive players.

Chapters 3-6: Endgame Strategies

The most important skill in super satellites is knowing when to call and when to fold versus shoves. Calling too wide is the costliest error players make.

They discuss things like: ICM, Calling Ranges, The Stone Bubble, Shoving

The Chance of Cashing math (you'll have to read the book for how to calculate).

If your COC is at 90% (which means you'll win your set 90% of the time), you need 90% equity to get involved in a hand (and nothing has 90% equity when calling a shove, not even AA).

Each chapter contains a list of Key Takeaways which are the most important bits of information to take from the chapter.

The rest of the book discusses everything else you need to know regarding satellite tourneys.  Things like:

  • Adjusting to Imperfection
  • Mega Satellites
  • Average Cash Stack (ACS)
  • Early Game
  • Post-flop

Useful HUD Stats

  • VPIP and PFR
  • Limp
  • Raise/Fold to 3bet
  • 4bet
  • Cbet
  • 3bet

My Recommendation:

Everyone needs to read this book. It doesn’t matter what stakes or games you play, satellites are a profitable and fun game. But, not just read the book, you’ve got to play in some satellites and DON’s as well.

My Results:

Updated: after recording the episode, I played 3 more DON's.

13 DON’s played, won 12/13 for a 92% cashing rate. Earned $57.88 from these 13 DON's, almost 6x more than I paid for the book!

I wouldn’t have even played in these DON’s if I didn’t buy the book. So, money and time well spent!

3 Favorite Quotes (11:45)

Chapter 2. Satellites in 30 Minutes

“Fold equity is the most important form of equity in a super satellite.”

Raising and shoving are much better ways to enter any pot in satellites. If you can get everyone to fold, you’ve taken down a pot and reduced variance.

Chapter 5. Endgame – Shoves

“You won’t be making a massive error in the late stages of a tournament shoving the entire range you would normally play, and it is much easier from a mental game perspective to keep it simple and have a default strategy.”

Near or on the bubble all you have to do is maintain your stack, the goal is not to increase it. Pick the best spots and all you really need to do is succeed in your shove steal once per orbit. But, if you are the shortest stack at or near the bubble, you can ramp up that aggression and know that your opponent should be folding a lot so shoving ATC is profitable. But still try to pick your spots and remain aggressive. You don’t want to get blinded out.

Chapter 12. Mental Game

“If you are bored in a satellite, you are doing it wrong.”

There is so much to pay attention to (stack sizes, player types, HUD stats, # of players, etc.), so pay attention.

Start your audiobook learning by picking up ‘Preflop Online Poker' through Click the pic above to begin your free 30-day trial (your first book is free) or to purchase the audiobook version if you're already a member.

My 3 Favorite Strategies and Action Steps (16:20)

1. Play with Purpose: Double or Nothing SNG Grinding (16:20)

Taken from chapter 3: Endgame

For the next five days, play couple Double or Nothing SNG games simultaneously each day. Because the prize structure is the same as a satellite, this is perfect practice for you.

Try to use what you’ve learned from the book:

    • Avoid calling all-in’s
    • Take the lower variance lines
    • Fold equity is the most important form of equity in satellites
    • Work out what the average stack will be on the bubble and tighten up when you achieve 70% of that
    • Lock up when you are inside the bubble by more positions than there are players outside of the bubble

Tag difficult decisions, especially those where your tournament life is on the line near the bubble.

This is a great task because satellites can often take a long time to play, but Double or Nothing SNG games run pretty frequently and take at most 45 minutes. They are perfect practice for somebody who wants to improve their satellite skills.

2. Play with Purpose: All shoves on the stone bubble (17:50)

Taken from chapter 5: Endgame – Shoves

When you get to the stone bubble of the tournament, no more open-raises. Instead, open shoves only. You don’t want to let your opponents come back over the top forcing you to fold those valuable chips.

Instead, put them to the test with your shoves. If they’re capable of calling wide, make sure your shoving range is far ahead of their wider calling range.

Keep your bluffs to a minimum unless you know the players are not willing to call and risk their tournament life without a great hand.

I really like this Play with Purpose task because it truly does relieve some of that mental game stress. If you think you should be opening to 2.5 or 3bb’s with AQ at a 12 bb stack, you’re now putting yourself in a potential post-flop decision situation. It makes sense that shoving with this instead gives you maximum fold equity while at the same time relieving a bit of that stress.

3. Play with Purpose: label the players as Nits, Maniacs or Stations (19:00)

Taken from Chapter 5: Endgame – Shoves

In the next 5 satellites you play, pay attention to the action and HUD stats and label each player at your table as a Nit, Maniac or a Station. Nits make folding mistakes; Stations make calling mistakes. Maniacs are overly aggressive and can make both betting and calling mistakes.

Experiment with widening your ranges to any 2 cards when you only have Nits left act. When there are Maniacs and Stations still to act, tighten up your ranges to only shove with hands that you don’t mind getting called.

This is a great task to help keep yourself focused on the players at your table. Even though this book teaches you to follow GTO strategies, it also teaches you to adjust your play based on the opponent you’re up against. And you can only do this if you’re paying attention, taking notes and using your HUD.

Challenge (20:05)

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:  Choose one of the 3 action steps I gave you today and take action with it. If you find it helpful to your game, pickup Dara and Barry’s book, Poker Satellite Strategy.  Read it then do the other 9 action steps from this episode’s free PDF download (found in the show notes page).

Now it’s your turn to pull the trigger and do something positive for your poker game.

Support the Show

Gerry Enns picked up PokerTracker 4 through my affiliate link (at no additional cost to him and he supported the show).  This is the best poker tracking software, and Gerry's now experiencing it!  In appreciation of his support, I sent him the Smart HUD to aid in exploiting every opponent he faces and in making more +EV decisions.  Plus, that database of hands to study is pretty nifty.

BD, Brad Kochanski and Mike Gunn purchased my Smart HUD (now with a 1-hour webinar!) for PokerTracker 4.  The HUD comes with 16 stats and 6 custom popups along with specialized color coding for the most useful stats.  It's perfect for getting the most from PokerTracker 4 and your online play.

Nelson Domingues purchased both How to Study Poker Volume 1 and Volume 2 in PDF form directly through me.  Thanks for your support, Nelson, and send any Q's my way.


Sky Matsuhashi

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