Satellites, and the tactical advantage of a cheeseburger

March 18, 2015

The first casualty of poker success is inhibition. You rarely see a winner of anything remain shy and retiring the next time you see them. So long meekness and that timid nature, hello bright green sunglasses, a Bloody Mary, maybe even a balloon.

There’s something of this in the lower of the two tournament rooms right now. At the far end sit the High Rollers, each paying a shade over €25,000 to play. Meanwhile across the barrier-no more than a flimsy rope line–the satellite to the IPT Main Event is in action: the same room but vastly different experiences.


Obvious really; the high rollers laugh and joke and play with an air of invincibility. The satellite players use raw nerves as card protectors and eye each other suspiciously, like they’re actually in a downtown holding cell waiting to see the judge with everyone else caught stealing that day.

Is there a way to at least mimic the high rollers? A fake-it-till-you-make-it approach worthy of a TED-Talk perhaps? I tried to spot something, I watched and watched. All I noticed was that high rollers order more food.

But wait, maybe there’s something in this? Nothing says “I’m not concerned by the reality I’m facing” better than taking the time to order a cheeseburger. Surely only a player supremely confident would do such a thing?

But nobody on the satellite side paid any attention to this idea. There may be no winner in a Main Event satellite, but there is a finish line to cross, and these guys intend to get there any way they can. This is a bear pit, not a cafeteria. It’s filled with sunglasses, headphones, and hoodies, all satellite pre-requisites. The sunglasses hide the suspicion in your eyes, the headphones stop anyone talking to you (the last thing you want is someone trying to make friends), while the hoodie covers your face at times of peril. They’ll be plenty of those times before the day is out.

How much simpler it would be if some sort of understanding could be arranged. Perhaps if you could all just agree to go easy on each other you might all cross that finish line at the expense of all those others, collectively spring-boarding yourselves into the Main Event. Surely it’s possible. If only you could all just learn to get along and maybe order a round of cheeseburgers.

But that would mean having to remove the sunglasses, headphones, and hoodies.

Forget it. Play on.

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Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.


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