Satellites - Real Squeaky Bum Poker

Satellites have such different dynamics to normal poker comps that they make for some real interesting spots and a wide variety of tactics.

I went to the GUKPT super satellite at the G Walsall on Sunday (11th March)  to try and win a seat for the £1,070 main event which starts 2.00pm Friday 16th. Luckily I won one, but to say my evening was a roller-coaster ride was an understatement!

I went to try and win a seat as if you do get lucky in the main event you could win £30k, also I feel I have some unfinished business with the GUKPT after my 10,10 < 9,9 exit from the G Coventry main event in 2011. I felt that overall I played OK at Coventry and I learned a fair bit during the event and hope to put that to good use at Walsall this week.

The general standard of play in last nights super sat was pretty terrible from 90% of the players that I saw. My opening table draw was the easiest table I’ve played on for a very long time.

Apart from one player who was just the biggest fish outside of Coventry everyone else was folding like total nits at 25/50. If the starting stack had been a little deeper I could have seen loads of flops and probably won a lot more chips earlier than I actually did.

In my mind though, after paying £30 + £5 to enter I was hoping to get away with 1r + add on (double chips for add on) so I didn’t want to get stuck for 3 or 4 re-buys. I learnt a long time ago about stop/go limits on my roulette playing and it’s something I try to incorporate into satellite play.

In an extreme example I saw someone at DTD play a super sat for the £1k Monte Carlo and after the £50 entry he then had 10 re-buys and busted out before the add-on break! So he spent £550 and didn’t get a seat. He would have been better off just paying the £1k and buying in direct, or going to the nearest roulette wheel and putting £500 on red or black.

I have played satellites before and given up trying when I reach what I consider is a sensible amount to invest.

So I was a little cautious early on, but did well in the early exchanges.

Anyway almost every time I saw the flop I took down the pot as they were all playing fit or fold and I was soon going nicely. Then when someone shipped I over my raise I busted them with AQ < A,10 and that put me up to over 6k from 2k starting stack and I was cruising along.

Now it’s real agony to get near the seat bubble and be struggling with 10 bb’s so I was determined to try and build on this good start by keeping my foot on the gas.

Hence when one of the donks opened for 5 bb’s (he’d already done this several times with hands like 10,J suited) and the fish to my right called it, I called as well from the button with 2,2.

I could have easily folded as I haven’t flopped a set for 3 months but figured I could call 250 out of 6.5k so I did. The sb and bb also made the call so we were 5 way to the flop.

I hit the 2 for a set, on a flop of 2h, Ac, 9h. I wasn’t too keen on the flush draw so when the opener bet into the pot and the fish called I shoved all in. The opener folded and the fish called with 3h,7h for a flush draw which he hit on the river.

I wasn’t too impressed with his call but managed to just say “nice hand” when he spiked the river. That was a blow as if that had held I’d have had a shed load of chips. As it was I was back down to just above 2k.

I built up again as I started opening lots more hands especially from late position as the 4 players to my left were the tightest of the 9 opponents.

When we were in the last re-buy level (75/150) I had my first bit of luck of the evening when I opened 5,6 off from the CO for 350. The bb was the only caller and I had the thought “I’ve done this a few too many times” when he made the call.

Anyway I need not have worried as the bb had A,7 and when the flop came 7 high, he just insta shoved all in on me. Unluckily for him though the flop was 7,4,3 which went a treat with my 5,6 and I caused him to re-buy!

Now a new player had just joined my table to witness this hand and it would be significant later. I’ll refer to him as “Mr Unlucky” from now on as I get to play 3 key hands against him through the rest of the night.

I then take the add on at the break and feel in pretty good shape. I then open a pot with 5,5 and get 2 callers and flop a set. Wow I hadn’t flopped a set for ages now 2 in 1 night! I lead out and get raised by an over pair. I just flat and then we get it all in on the turn and I hold to go really big in chips.

I’m just starting to think this is going almost too well when it goes the way of the pear. I open a pot and someone 3 bets me all in, but it’s not much more to me. However someone else then jams in for lots.

Now I’d been opening more pots than anyone and they’d seen me turn over 5,6 & 5,5 and 8,9 suited type hands so people when they look at a hand feel that shoving is most likely a good thing as I’ll be laying down those hands to a 3 or 4 bet.

Now I have them both covered, the shorty had very few but the other guy had about 16k. I have AK and about 25k. The chip av is 9k so I figure even if I lose I’m still not out of it, so after a dwell I make the call.

I’m up against the short stacks 6,6 and the other guy has AQ. The flop brings an Ace so I’m in great shape to pick up 40k and go to 69k with blinds at 300/600. But the guy rivers a Q and I’m choked.

I’d already worked out that with the number of chips in play when the seat bubble burst the average chips would be 90k. So to have nearly 70k at 300/600 would have been HUGE.

The seat bubble actually burst when the blinds were 5k/10k/500 so I knew that was a hugely significant hand to lose.

Anyway I know these satellites are never a smooth ride and you have to sweat along the way right?

So I rock along but I can’t get going again and most of the rocks on my table have been busted and the table doesn’t look quite so easy now.

I cannot get a hand and struggle along on 9k for ages but with 20 minute blind levels I’m actually going backwards in real terms.

I now know I have to shove all in with almost any 2 in any decent looking spot. One donkey 3 to my right was the only guy limping now so I 3 bet shoved twice on him and he folded both times but I still couldn’t catch up the chip average which was rising rapidly due to loads of bust outs.

There were 135 runners initially but they were dropping like flies. Anyway as we approach the next break I make my mind up that the easiest bb on the table is the new kid to my immediate right. I saw what he was folding to raises on his bb so I knew I had to do it, even though it meant doing it from UTG.

I open shove for about 7 bigs and everyone folds and that buys me a round of the table. But I have to fold for a round due to the action so I’m back in the same situation again exactly 10 hands later and shove 7 bigs UTG again.

Now Mr Unlucky finds 8,8 in mid position and calls me. I hadn’t actually looked at my cards but I have J,5 (Motown). If you are in deep shit I feel it helps if you have a hand that has a name!

Anyway I river a Jack to stay alive and now I have 16 bb’s whoopee. I win a few more and go up to about 26k so I can start raising again rather than shoving.

So after the break I get moved to a new table. On it I’m sat to the immediate left of Steve Owen (cash game reg from G Cov) and to his right is a guy known as “Panfried” off the Midlands Poker Forum.

I’m in seat 8 and Tim Millward-Brookes who is the “Fold to Victory” team captain, (that’s his photo at the top of the post) ) also G Cov regular is in seat 3.

The other Coventry regulars Mark, Clive and “one eyed” Pete have already busted. I was actually very pleased that there were so many Cov regulars there as often in Satellites there are “Teams” entering to try and get seats and it’s not so nice if you are in strange casino where you don’t know anyone.

I used to be a regular at Walsall myself about 10 years ago so I do know a few of the players there but not many nowadays.

Anyway one of my downward roller-coaster bits comes next. Seat 2 is the bb (1k/2k) and it’s folded to “Panfried in seat 6 and he open shoves for about 8k. Steve folds and when I look at my cards I have 2 red Aces.

As I had quite a lot of chips and the bb looked to have a shoving size stack I just flat called hoping to get his chips. It’s folded to the bb and he thinks for a while but he just made the call. Now I know that probably every other player at the table would have shoved with Aces in my situation but I do try to do the opposite of what people expect now and again.

As I have 2 red Aces the flop stinks as it’s 3 clubs. About the only thing I didn’t want to see. So when the bb checks to me I have to bet big as I don’t want to let him hit an 8 high flush type hand for free. He duly folds (he said he did have a mid range club after the hand). Panfried turns over K,3 off suit but the 3 is a club and he rivers the flush.

I’m none too happy but I always feel it’s reasonable when a short stack shoves in and gets lucky. It’s bad calls that really tilt me not shoves that get lucky.

So I’m wounded a bit but it could have been worse. I then go really card dead and can’t do much as the preceding action means I end up folding a lot of hands.

The blinds are going ridiculous now and antes have kicked in, so I’m starting to get desperate again when they break our table and move me again.

Now there are 3 tables left and there are 11 seats and £350 for 12th but I have less than 10 big blinds again. Now for some players they were folding when they had 3 or 4 big blinds but I wasn’t going to go quietly if I was going.

Now at my new table I’m seat 10 and Steve Holden was in seat 9 (You can see Steve’s Results here: ) He has had some very good wins and is an all round good guy. I first met him many years ago when he first started playing poker in the Friday night £5 re-buy at Walsall.

Tim Millward-Brookes gets put in seat 8 and seat 1 is really tough for me as it’s a guy called Sammi (don’t know his surname) one of the very best amateur poker players around and he has a lot of chips.

Mr Unlucky re-joins me and gets put in seat 5. By this stage I’m really short stacked and I know I have to shove with any two the first time it’s folded to me. Unluckily (or luckily) it doesn’t get folded to me until Tim is the bb.

Tim has won some huge pots earlier on and so is sitting on a stack of 120k plus. We’d chatted earlier on the breaks and we’d discussed that it would be nice if we could both win a seat. He was well on the way and I was the one in real danger of busting.

So I shove in against Tim’s bb for about 5 bigs from UTG +1, I’m thinking I will almost certainly get called by someone round the table but amazingly it got folded round to Tim.

Tim was probably table CL at this point, and I guess the other players were thinking lets leave it to him!

Anyway he dwells long enough to nearly give me a heart attack, but he mucks.

Steve’s Holden, sat to my immediate right, let out a gasp of disbelief that was pretty audible and I can breathe again.

Now Tim gets a lot of stick from a certain G Cov regular (Mr Goody) about his rock like tendencies, who even set up a fake blog called “Fold to Victory” which I admit is funny, but on this occasion I think it’s to his credit that he folded.

Dave has put merchandise for sale via the blog and to be fair Tim’s took it in good part and has even bought a fleece off the website. See photo at top of the blog. Apparently one of the dealers at G Cov has bought the thong shown below. I think it’s one of the female dealers but I’m not sure.

So anyway the next hand Steve Holden is bb and I’m UTG and I still have a very short stack and Steve is giving me speech play along the lines of “if you think I won’t call you, you’d better think again”.

I’m giving it back saying “I know you will and I’ve got far too much respect for you to ship in on your blind with junk” type of speech. Anyway I say “I’ve just bought myself a round I can wait for a hand now”.

As I peep at my cards I have 9h,6h a favourite hand of a very good friend of mine. It’s not my favourite hand at all, but it always seems lucky for him. So I shove all in for about 7 big blinds.

It get’s folded to “Mr Unlucky” and he ships in over the top of my bet. Everyone folds and we are on their backs, my 9,6 versus his J,J.

I miss the flop but pick up a middle pin straight draw on the turn and river it! Boom.

Now I have 16 big’s approx and that’s a lot at this stage as players on the other tables are tighter than a camels arse in a sand storm.

Time goes by and we get down to 2 tables and the blinds are a ridiculous 5k/10k/500. Average chip stack about 70k.

I then pick up KK and shove all in again. It’s folded to Mr Unlucky and he shoves. He’d folded some big hands earlier and was playing pretty tight but he’d seen and been on the receiving end of my earlier shoves with 5,6 - J,5 - 9,6 etc so he called me with 10,10 and I held to go to safety!

Mr Unlucky is still in and gets a seat so I didn’t feel so bad about the wounds I’d inflicted on him through the night.

Anyway we are having lots of action on our table but the other one is in lock down. We lose Steve, busted by Mr Unlucky and then the player in seat 3 loses a lot of chips and is on life support as we get to 13 players the prize bubble. (£350 for 12th)

Seat 3 then tactically folds leaving himself less than 1 bb (Definite Fold to Victory Potential) as players are all in and called on the other table.

We lose a player from the other table so there are now 12, with 11 seats and the £350 cash for 12th. Blinds still 5k/10k/500.

Seat 3 is UTG and throws in his last 8.5k, Mr Unlucky flats for the 10k. I’m sb and call the extra 5k with J,3. I have loads of chips and I know that even though in normal comps Sammi is very aggressive in this spot he will never raise from the bb even if he picks up Aces. As I suspected he checks and we are 4 way to the flop.

It comes A,J,3, (2 diamonds)  I check my 2 pair, Sammi has Ad and checks. Poor Mr Short stack has A,Q for top pair, Mr Unlucky has 2 diamonds and also checks.

The turn is the 3 of diamonds giving me a boat and Mr Unlucky a flush and Sammi still has top pair and has now picked up the Ace flush draw. I lead out for the minimum 10k expecting them both to fold as I’ve as good as said I have a monster. I’m really surprised when both Sammi and Mr Unlucky call!

The river is a blank and I’m trying to work out if there is any scenario where all 3 players could have hit a bigger boat than me! I really can’t see it happening but check anyway just in case 🙂

We turn em over and my hand wins and more importantly it’s all over. Phew.

We are all smiles then of course and all the 11 winners are friendly and chatting away merrily in the queue to pick up our entry tickets for the main event.

I have a chat to Mr Unlucky and he seemed a really nice guy, and he took the beats I put on him well. I walked out with Tim and Pete and we had a congratulatory talk outside.

It should be good on Friday as other G Coventry regulars have won seats for the main event, including fellow “Fold to Victory” team member Andy Bailess.


The structure and starting stack is dreadful for these events but it’s designed to get maximum re-buys and then finish it ASAP. So 3×30 min blind levels for re-buys + last 3 hands then 20 minute levels from then on. They even introduced ante’s which was just ridiculous as the chip average to BB ratio was so bad in the later stages that they really didn’t need ante’s to spice up the action!

I didn’t need to have a re-buy but took the add on, so I’ve won a £1,070 seat for £65 so I’m free-rolling which is always good.

It was a bloody tough win though and I felt knackered when I got home, though obviously delighted. I got lucky more times than unlucky throughout the night and had a real roller-coaster ride.

I posted on Facebook before I left the house for Walsall, “Off to Walsall for the GUKPT super satellite… why, why do I put myself through this torture?” 

Well on the rare occasions when it works out, it’s a real buzz, that’s why!

Lets hope I have a really boring day Friday and just steadily accumulate chips throughout the day without any drama.

Yeah, like that’s going to happen 🙂