A lot of fans of poker read the coverage from live events or watch the live streams and see all these pros playing in big buy-in events. It would be easy to think that to become a pro one would have to reach that level. Wrong. There is a whole level below that, the low-mid level pros, who also tour the circuit but might not always play the €5,000 buy-in and above tournaments.
Some of these tour grinders know that, event though they are playing lower buy-in tournaments (more often than not) than some of their peers, the satellite system is still an important part of their poker schedule, they’re not just there to get into the bigger events. In total, 207 players won their seats for the IPT Main Event online, and another 92 won their seats here in the casino.
“I think satellites hugely important. A number of Irish and Lithuanian guys in particular target them. Wherever the event maybe is, be it a UKIPT, Estrelles or an IPT like this one, you’d look six weeks ahead of time, see there was going to be two or three sats a night and for someone playing five nights a week – that’s 15. You might end up playing 90 sats and a good result would be to win 12 or 13 seats out of it. You’re freerolling the seats then and made a couple of extra thousand on the side.
“They’re so important as online poker has gotten so tough at the moment and one of the areas where there’s still a lot of value is in satellites to live events. Players who normally play live are attracted to play them and they soften them up. For low-mid level pros, it’s important to play one or two $100 tournaments a night and they’re softer than normal $100 freezeout tournaments taking place on PokerStars.
“Satellites are a unique structure and one of the biggest edges I’ve been able to find, and I know other guys in Ireland and Lithuania have also been able to find, is playing optimally, especially the end game. It’s very extreme from an ICM point of view and that’s a skill in itself that a lot of really good players – better players than I am in normal MTTs – don’t understand the extremity of what’s going on in the end game, and I think they give away and edge to players like me. Normally I’d be the fish to them but it situations like that I can exploit them which makes them all the more juicier.
“I think it’s important to fit in as much play as possible whilst at events. I’m not going to lie, the hourly in a $100 turbo is not good enough to justify being there but generally speaking you’re already in that city; maybe the internet connection in your hotel isn’t good enough to do an online session or maybe commit to the hours that session would take. I look at the festival as one big thing. Obviously your hourly expectation is going to be the greatest or if you play the High Roller they can be very good, but the Cups are probably the nuts to be honest.
“Since PokerStars rebranded the €300 side event as the Cup, and did multiple flights, they’ve become the softest tournament, especially as recreational player in the city – who would maybe only play a €100 tournament – look at a €300 game and have a shot every year. It”s to see one of those guys do well as it’s good for their local poker economy as the money goes back into where they normally play. Also, from a pro’s point of view, it really does soften up the fields.”
Day 1B of the Malta Cup takes place tonight so why not come and play this “soft” event of you’re around?
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Updates provided by Marc Convey, with photos coming from René Velli and