Satellites into the World Series of Poker Main Event have been around for many years. They remain a popular way to get a seat in the event since it turns even a min-cash into a big profit if you can qualify cheaply enough.
Justin Liberto won his first WSOP bracelet this year, taking down Event #51: $3,000 Six-Max No-Limit Hold’em and collecting a $640,711 first prize. But even with a huge infusion to his bankroll, we found him this weekend grinding the $1,000 Mega Satellite into the Main Event, where he was among 96 runners who shipped a seat late Saturday evening.
With the last satellites into the big one still playing out, read on to see what Liberto had to say about the importance of satellites, his general approach to satellite strategy, and what skills are most useful for succeeding in them.
PokerNews: Why is playing satellites important?
Justin Liberto: It’s important to play in these No. 1 if you’re looking to play bigger tournaments that your bankroll can’t afford. Fields are going to be softer — the greatest in the world aren’t showing up to play satellites to get into a $10K. The ROIs (return on investment) are going to be huge in an event like this.
How many satellites do you play in a given summer?
This is the first year that I haven’t done any sit-n-gos. This was my first satellite, so I got it on the first try. I was definitely hoping to satellite into the Main. There’s a lot of value in these. If you can’t get into the main for cheaper than $10,000, you’re probably not doing it right or you’re running pretty bad.
What types of players do you typically run into? Lots of amateurs compared to really tough players?
These definitely have a lot of amateurs. It’s also very enjoyable. A lot of these guys came out knowing the Main Event was about to happen and they got in this — it’s their one shot. Any time you play a variation of poker that isn’t a standard MTT, amateurs are going to run into situations they haven’t been into a hundred times and they’re most likely going to make mistakes.
What’s your general approach to these mega satellites?
As they progress and you get maybe 100 people away [from the bubble], avoid the other large stacks if you have a large stack. It’s pretty basic. If you get to a place where you can fold out and get a seat, just fold out.
What skills are most important for these?
I would say patience and the ability to understand if you’re there, don’t try to be a hero. Don’t try to get the field there faster than it necessarily has to get there. Just sit back, relax, and don’t make any mistakes trying to be a hero.
Is it important to have some deal-making acumen?
Yeah, that’s huge. I have a roommate that’s been grinding sit-n-gos this whole summer, and his ability to make a deal with someone who doesn’t play as regularly is huge. You’re printing money if you’re good at it.
Thanks to Justin Liberto for his advice about satellite strategy. The second of the three Day 1 Main Event flights begins today at 12 noon PT. Keep it here at PokerNews for start-to-finish coverage of the 2015 WSOP Main Event.