Get It Quietly

Football, bollocks and a bit of poker if you're lucky.

Location: Enfield, London, United Kingdom

Friday, July 25, 2003


Last week the “European Championships” are ran at the Vic. They held two satellites on the Sunday and a huge one on Friday, the night before the main event. Was I there, chasing the big prize ? No way ! These satellites are a bad deal IMO. Here’s why :

· Tough fields. The satellites themselves are a bit of a mixture, but many of the best players do play. But winning a seat is only half the battle. Then you have to come back and play in a very tough line up. About as tough as it gets. Not good !

· Small chance of winning. Apparently on the Sunday there were 100 runners in the £2500 Satellite, with 10 seats given away. Satellite entrants had a 10% chance of winning a seat (less if not prepared to rebuy). If you qualify, 10% of the field usually get paid in the main event. That’s two 9-1 shots, a 99-1 double ! You have a 1% chance of making any money at all. Variance is off the scale.

· Even smaller chance of a big win. The majority of the money goes to the top three places (which is only right, I have no complaint with that). If your target comp has 150 runners, you have a 1 in 50 chance of finishing top 3. Parlay that up with your 10% chance of winning a seat – 500 to 1. And that’s assuming your skill level is around the average !

· Double rake. The Vic made £25 from every direct entrant, that’s all they’re allowed to. But with the satellites, 100 entrants at £10 each makes £1000 from 10 seats ! Plus the £250 they take off the satellite winners ! And if you do win a seat, your expenses (travelling, time off etc) are doubled as well.

· Time consuming. 4 hours in a satellite plus, if you win, 5 or 6 hours average in the comp, 14-16 hours or more to make the money ! Not a problem if you consider it as entertainment, but this is time you could be making money in better games.

· Satellites, IMO, aren’t entertaining at all. They are boring ! Survive, survive, survive. Repeat ad nauseam while waiting for someone else to be knocked out. Zzzzzzzz

· Collusion. I tend to downplay fears of collusion in normal tournaments. There isn’t a great deal someone can do to help a partner without hurting themselves almost as much. In other words it’s not easy for a partnership to gain a significant edge over the rest of the field by colluding. And because most colluders aren’t the sharpest tools in the box, they don’t know how to do it right anyway (and no, I’m not going to tell you). In a super-satellite, it’s a different story. Once you get close to the end, you often find that up to half the remaining players are virtually certain of qualifying. These players can help their mates out a lot without endangering themselves at all. And the correct strategy is pretty obvious – when your mate goes all-in, you fold ! I believe this goes on quite a lot. You even see people who won’t normally do anything out of order enter a super-sat with their partner, and if either one wins, the stronger player will take the seat. This amounts to the same thing. If you’re playing it straight, on your own, this can really hurt you sometimes.

Of course, as always in poker, there are upsides as well. You can learn from watching the good players around you ; it’s quite exciting, in a way, to play for big money ; and of course if you do get lucky you could net a big score (although I could say the same about the lottery). However, I do think you can learn a lot in £50 comps (try Saturday nights in Luton, lots of good players, too many for my liking). And you can play for quite a lot of money (surely enough to get excited about) in £100 and £200 comps without all this screwing around with satellites.

Anyway I’ll give them a miss. Just one more thing, in the style of Columbo, to think about. If you derive a lot of self-esteem from playing and being seen in the biggest games around, get a grip. You could get professional therapy for a fraction of the cost and a real, long-term benefit. I’m deadly serious.


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