Thursday, August 30, 2007

MTT Satellites Are For Suckers?

I don't play MTT satellites. This includes token races, token frenzies or whatever you want to call them. There is a simple reason for this. They are a complete waste of time. I play poker to win cash. I don't care how it comes, but $/Hr longterm is the measuring stick that I use. I have been playing MTTs well lately, but I don't bother with the satellites. The reasoning is painfully simple, but you guys just don't seem to get it. I have seen numerous posts about how great getting a token or satelliting in is. Well here is the problem with the concept.

Are you +EV in the MTT you are trying to satellite in to?

This is a pretty simple question. Can you beat the MTT that you are going to try to satellite into long term? If the answer is yes, then pony up and pay the buy-in. If the answer is no, then find an MTT that you are +EV in or don't bother with MTTs. If you are ready to admit that you can't beat poker for a profit and you play MTTs just for fun, then play all the satellites that you want. When you win a seat, I will be looking to take your chips in an MTT that you should not be playing in based on your skill level.

Lets me explain it a bit further. If you can beat the MTT you are satelliting into for a profit, you need to be playing in that MTT, and not satellites to it. The MTT itself can be used as the satellite. You get a decent score and then use your profit rate to keep you above water and freeroll the MTT indefinitely. Now that's better than playing a satellite where you can't win any cash, right?

Now I already know where you guys will object to this argument, and I am ready with an answer. The variance is very high in MTTs. You can go through quite a roll trying to get that first big score. Satellites let you take your shots for less than the full buy-in. Satellites are the way to go.

Lets take a look at that argument. The variance is too high for that level MTT. This simply means that your bankroll is not big enough. If you use the 100 buy-in rule for a MTT like the 50/50 (50+5 buy-in), you will need a $5,500 roll. So lets say your roll is just $1500 but you want to play anyway. So you play satellites. Do you guys keep track of your ROI in these things? Lets say that you could get a 20% ROI on satellites (I question this big time). So you use $1000 of your roll to win $1200 worth of shots at the 50/50. So you have about 22 buy-ins to the 50/50. You are still facing the variance issue here, and it is very likely that you will blow through all of those entries without a big score. You really have not fixed the variance problem of being under bankrolled for an MTT by satelliting in. You are nearly as likely to go busto satelliting into or just buying into an MTT that you are under bankrolled for.

MTT satellites are bad for you game as well. They use a flat payout structure unlike what MTTs use. You must adjust your game to this payout structure to do well in satellites. These adjustments are very harmful to your MTT game. So satellites are not really good MTT practice. You would be much better off practicing in a lower buy-in MTT than a satellite, and using it as a satellite if you must play a higher buy-in MTT.

The reason satellites are so popular is that most people lose money playing poker. They can't be +EV in the MTT they are trying to get into, but people like to dream of the big score no matter how unlikely. So to limit their losses people play satellites. Lets say your loss rate was $15/Hr in the 50/50 and $2/Hr in satellites. Satellites are the way to go there. You can play for more hours without destroying your bankroll, by playing a game that you lose money less fast. This is why people play satelites. Unfortunately, this puts them in quite a long shot position when they do get thier seat. They will be playing against a bunch of +EV players in an MTT they are -EV in. It will take quite a run of luck to get deep. They keep dreaming though, and that's how good players make money in MTTs. Satellites simply kill your hourly rate.

So what do I suggest?

If you insist on playing MTTs and can't beat the big buy-in ones, learn how to beat the low buy-in ones. Keep records so you will know when it is time to move up. Be honest with yourself, and understand why you play poker. Winning a low dollar buy-in MTT still feels great, and is good experience you can use in the bigger ones. Spending most of your time in satellites is bad for your game and bankroll.

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12 Comments:

At 12:46 PM, Blogger KajaPoker said...

Very interesting post, I have to admit. I never thought of it this way. But I have three points to add:

1) I like the idea of playing lower buy-in MTTs but sometimes the play in those is so bad that no matter how good you are you are going to get hosed.

2) You need to learn to adjust your game to a flat payout structure in a satellite.

3) Because of the difficulty in depositing money into some sites satellites are an easy way to get into bigger MTTs without having to go through the hassle of making a deposit.

I think Chris Ferguson, in his 10K challenge, had the same rule about satellites.

 
At 12:48 PM, Blogger Miami Don said...

As always I like your posts but I completely disagree and it would take a post of my own to explain which I'm not going to do but here are a couple points.

Satellites are worth it for big buy-in MTTs such as $163 and above. See LJ's scores on what $8.70 can get you. Your theory might work for $11 MTT donks or even $26 donks but not for big events.

Satellites are good for weak-tight card dependent players who can't win MTTs. That covers about 90% of players. It's much easier to win a seat than it is to win the whole thing.

For me personally, I've tracked and kept records on every single satellite, token frenzy, peep etc. that I've ever played. While my MTT results are nothing impressive, I've saved a bunch of coin playing satellites and not buying in directly.

You're too black and white Blinders or should I say Mr. Generalization.

 
At 1:38 PM, Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

If you go through this post and replace every "you" and "your" with "me" and "my" (speaking about Blinders himself), then I think I agree with the premise, as it pertains to Blinders specifically. But saying this as if it is true about the readers of this post, that is downright scary. I would think even the fellow blogger donkeys will immediately see how silly this is. Of course mtt satellites are an excellent way to play yourself into a larger buyin event for a much cheaper price. I scoured this post to find any statement that intelligently cuts against this premise, but one was not to be found.

Blinders I typically love your posts as you know, but that doesn't mean you don't have to think about something before you write it. Geez, I let you take me out of the Mookie by calling your allin with 92s and suddenly you're talking about mtt satellites being stoopid for everyone? Huh?

 
At 1:55 PM, Blogger SirFWALGMan said...

Man that is the dumbest post you have ever written..

1. Why would you NOT ever play in a game that is "above" you? Let's say for instance your a moron who barely understands poker like... oh well... Jamie Gold??? Why not Satellite in? You see tons of WPT and the like winners of millions of dollars as mechanics from Boise who satellited in.

2. Even online in smaller games like 75$ or even 26$.. if you play lower stakes and have a bankroll of 200-300 bucks then 26 bucks could be a good portion of your roll where the 8 bucks makes it good bankroll management. No reason ANYONE can not have a chance to beat a 26-75 dollar MTT for some serious bucks in their bankroll.

3. If it is so stupid then why do a bunch of the top online pro's do it for all the majors?

If I had a 10K bankroll sure I would not waste my time on 26$ tokens but probably would still try to satellite the big 500+ buyin games.. why the heck not.

 
At 3:13 PM, Blogger Blinders said...

As usual everyone misses the point. I will go through a few.

"You need to learn to adjust your game to a flat payout structure in a satellite."

You only need to learn this if you play satellites. This stuff will pollute your regular game.

"Because of the difficulty in depositing money into some sites satellites are an easy way to get into bigger MTTs without having to go through the hassle of making a deposit"

This is even more reason to not play above your bankroll (satelliting or not).

"Satellites are worth it for big buy-in MTTs such as $163 and above. See LJ's scores on what $8.70 can get you. Your theory might work for $11 MTT donks or even $26 donks but not for big events"

Again you should not be playing at this level if your bankroll can't handle it or you are not good enough.

"Satellites are good for weak-tight card dependent players who can't win MTTs. That covers about 90% of players. It's much easier to win a seat than it is to win the whole thing."

So people who have no shot of winning an MTT should spend time and money trying to satellite in? Pretty crazy argument there.

BTW using a Chris Furgeson challenge as an example is a bit silly. The guy is both under bankrolled in the challenge and way +EV in MTTs so bad example. For his challenge + him it makes great sense.

"I've saved a bunch of coin playing satellites and not buying in directly."

How much coin did you save, and how much time have you spent playing them? How does this compare to your cash game hourly rate?

"Of course mtt satellites are an excellent way to play yourself into a larger buyin event for a much cheaper price"

How much coin did you save, and how much time have you spent playing them? Is this hourly rate higher than all of your other hourly rates in poker? You are only saving money by playing satellites if satellites earn you the highest $/hr. Again not one of you can state what your hourly rate is in sats.

"Why would you NOT ever play in a game that is "above" you? Let's say for instance your a moron who barely understands poker like... oh well... Jamie Gold??? Why not Satellite in? You see tons of WPT and the like winners of millions of dollars as mechanics from Boise who satellited in."

You are forgetting about the other 8000 morons who spent millions on satellites and millions of hours, took a week off from work, went out to the ME and did not cash.

"Even online in smaller games like 75$ or even 26$.. if you play lower stakes and have a bankroll of 200-300 bucks then 26 bucks could be a good portion of your roll where the 8 bucks makes it good bankroll management. No reason ANYONE can not have a chance to beat a 26-75 dollar MTT for some serious bucks in their bankroll."

Again, you are above your bankroll satellite or not.

"If it is so stupid then why do a bunch of the top online pro's do it for all the majors?"

The top online pros buy-in direct to the online majors. If they bother with sateliting in to the big live ones, it is because they are not sure if they are +EV in them, or know that thier rate in sats is high enough to be worth it.

I understand that most players are losers, and dream of the big score, and satelites are a way of keeping that dream alive. This post was not intended for them (90% of all players). In fact, the post suggests that those types of players play satellites. This is more for winning players like Hoy/Don/Chad/Smokkee, and others that I feel are wasting there time in Sats.

The argument that is always made is "I turned $8 into a $1000+ MTT score". The argument is complete BS as it ignores all the attempts before winning the seat and all of the other MTTs you did not get a seat for, but ran satellites, and all the MTTs that you won a seat for, but did not cash.

A better quote would be "I spent $800 and 400 hours running satellites, I won $900 worth of seats, and cashed for $1000 in the MTTs. I spent an additional 100 hours in the MTTs. I earned a profit of $200 over 500 hours. I make $0.40/Hr playing poker".

LMAO

 
At 6:11 PM, Blogger Mike Maloney said...

So, is the point of your whole post that you get a better hourly rate buying in directly instead of satelliting in? What about those of us who don't care all that much about hourly rate? Satellite's are cheaper for me than buying in directly, period. My PT stats back this up. It might lower my hourly rate, but not enough for me to really care.

 
At 6:21 PM, Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Blinders,

1. I can't speak for anyone else, but there is little doubt that I am positive over time in satellites to play into larger events. I'm not going to search for all the details to back it up because I don't care that much. But if your argument does not allow for the possibility that mtt satellites are +EV for someone, such that you are just going to automatically question anyone's truthfulness who makes such an assertion, then I'm willing to agree to disagree on the whole point because we won't get any further with our respective positions.

2. That you have repeatedly suggested that playing the mtt sat game somehow "messes up" everyone's mtt game shows how little ability you attribute to other players to self-adjust to the type of game they are playing. In reality for the stronger players (in particular the few you mentioned) this adjustment is more than easy; it is intuitive and just kinda goes on in the background while we focus on playing. Just like sitting down to play cash vs playing in an mtt, every game requires adjustment and while you may have had problems adjusting back and forth between flat payout structures and regular mtt formats, that is not a problem I have experienced to any meaningful degree. And obviously I am not the only one.

3. Obviously if you are into playing the large buyin mtts, expending some time to satellite your way in for a much smaller buyin is not a problem and in fact often represents the only way that many of us would play in these larger events, that again in particular for the stronger players such as the group you mentioned, undoubtedly are beatable tournaments. Your entire premise here that one should only play the games that provide the largest average hourly profit again may be true for your situation given your own poker talents and goals, but to suggest that that mentality automatically applies to all players is at best obtuse and at worst self-centered, and in either case far off base. As other commenters have pointed out, if my goal is not automatically to maximize my average hourly profit but rather to play in the large buyin mtts, which again I have little doubt that I can succeed in, then not only is playing mtt satellites not a sucker bet but in fact it is more or less a necessity to attain that goal. To suggest that since I do not have 100 * $1,000 = $100,000 in my online bankroll, that means I have no business playing in and could not be successful in the full tilt Monday 1K tournament is, like most of the assertions in your post, incorrect to the point of reasonable indisputability.

Also, if I haven't made this clear from the comment by now, there is little doubt that the stronger players like the group you mentioned benefit more, not less, from playing in mtt satellites. The stronger players are more likely to qualify for the big buyin tournaments for less money, are easily able to adjust their game from a normal to a flat tournament payout structure, and back again, and obviously have a better chance of actually cashing in the big buyin mtt when they do win their buyins via satellite.

Maybe you should just delete this post and start over?

 
At 10:23 PM, Blogger lj said...

i started to leave a comment, but realized it would take up more than half the page, and so i just made a blog post out of it.

the long and short of it is that i disagree, and believe that it is only because of satellites that i could find out whether i had any potential in larger buy in tournaments. that's not to say that cashes can't be flukes, only that such cashes would NEVER have happened without satellites.

i played lower buy in mtts without any success, and it wasn't until i satellited into higher buy in mtts that i made big cashes.

 
At 8:14 AM, Blogger Schaubs said...

LJ is an inspiration for the exact reasons she discusses above, and in her blog. I have been "training" in lower levels knowing that one day I will be ready to take my shots are higer buyins. I have no doubt that I can compete in these higer buyin events. I just don't feel that it is necessary to put my money where my mouth is just yet. So I try the odd satellite and replenish with cash games.

I think the bottom line is - everyone is different and no one is completely right here.

Now let's stop bashing each other and get back to supporting each other. Donkeys.

 
At 8:14 AM, Blogger Schaubs said...

LJ is an inspiration for the exact reasons she discusses above, and in her blog. I have been "training" in lower levels knowing that one day I will be ready to take my shots are higer buyins. I have no doubt that I can compete in these higer buyin events. I just don't feel that it is necessary to put my money where my mouth is just yet. So I try the odd satellite and replenish with cash games.

I think the bottom line is - everyone is different and no one is completely right here.

Now let's stop bashing each other and get back to supporting each other. Donkeys.

 
At 3:20 PM, Blogger bayne_s said...

"You are forgetting about the other 8000 morons who spent millions on satellites and millions of hours, took a week off from work, went out to the ME and did not cash."

Hey I was one of these 8000. Silly thing is I managed to sell off 10% of self which more than made up for my satellite costs and since I busted Day 2 only took 3 days off work.

Didn't cash at Aussie Millions either.

I am quite sure I would not ever pay $10,000 US or $10,000 Australia to buy in direct to these tournaments. Also to quote Perry Friedman: "Bust Equity is high I now have a week free to experience Melbourne"

I think both experiences did improve my poker game.

 
At 10:38 AM, Blogger Jim Philips said...

It depends I have some interesting incomes from bookmakers online and Also Poker is complementary.

 

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