The best way to play in the World Series of Poker is to do it for free. Why pay $10,000 just to take a seat when you can let someone else pony up the cash? There’s no need to bankrupt the bankroll just so you mark your spot in poker history. All you have to do is win one tiny, little WSOP qualifier online.
Just win one little satellite and you’ll fly to Las Vegas on someone else’s dime, stay at the best hotels and compete for your share of a prize pool that will likely top $60,000,000. That’s a lot of money for not a lot of work. I’m not saying it’ll be easy by any means, but playing in a few satellites sure beats digging ditches for a living.
This probably sounds like a sales pitch but I really do believe online satellites are the best way for average players to earn a shot at the biggest prize in poker. Thousands of people have competed in the WSOP through satellites since Chris Moneymaker took the Main Event all the way back in 2003 (he qualified through a $39 online event). It’s something you can do right now with the computer or mobile device you’re using to read these words.
Simply winning a seat is an accomplishment in its own right. You’ll have the trip of a lifetime and play poker with some of the best players in the world. Plus, you’ll have a great story to tell even if you don’t win. Speaking of winning, this year’s WSOP Main Event is projected to offer payouts to the top 1,000 places with no prize smaller than $15,000.
How WSOP Qualifiers Work
WSOP qualifiers play just like any other tournament with one exception. Instead of competing for cash, you’ll be competing for a prize package that includes travel, hotel, your $10,000 entry fee and maybe a little extra spending money. If you take first place in a qualifier, you’ll be sent to Las Vegas free of charge.
Poker sites can afford to offer all this money because WSOP satellites attract lots of interest. The buyins for a single tournament are used to pay for the entire prize package, which is usually valued at around $12,000. So if you play in a $200 qualifier, one prize package will be awarded for every 60 or so participants.
Likewise, a $100 qualifier would award one WSOP trip for every 120 participants. It all comes down to how much the tournament costs and how many people sign up. Cheaper satellites are more affordable but pit you against a greater number of opponents while more expensive satellites are easier to win.
You can also play in much cheaper pre-qualifiers for as little as $10. Pre-qualifiers are basically just satellites into bigger satellites. For example, let’s say you’re not ready to spend $200 on a single tournament. In that case, you could play in a $10 sub-satellite to win a seat into the main $200 qualifier.
About the World Series of Poker
The World Series of Poker is a series of tournaments that run every year in Las Vegas from late May through early July. These days, there are 65+ events in all different formats and at many buyins. The full schedule includes a whole list of tournaments for Texas Holdem, Omaha, 2-7 Triple Draw and just about every other form of poker ever invented.
The buyins for these events range from a mere $1500 all the way up to $111,111 for the annual high roller championship. The biggest and most talked-about event of them all is the $10,000 Main Event for Texas Holdem. This is the one with the largest prize pool of them all and a first place prize that routinely tops $8,000,000.
In recent years, the Main Event has taken a full 7 days to wrap things up and narrow it down to just 9 finalists. The nine finalists then get a 4-month break to go home, relax and prepare for the final table showdown in November. The break also gives the WSOP time to organize the television production. All nine players return in November and continue the final table with the same chip stacks they had back in July.
Making it to the final table is already a guarantee that you’re going to walk away with a lot of money. Last year, the first person to bust out at the final table still left with nearly a million dollars added to his name. Taking first place will turn you into a multi-millionaire and result in your picture being added to the Gallery of Champions at Binion’s Horseshoe.
The World Series of Poker is far from the only poker event that spurs online satellites. If you play at the right poker sites, you’ll find qualifiers for a whole plethora of major land-based and online events. One of the more popular of these is the European version of the WSOP.
The WSOPE (World Series of Poker Europe) is hosted in a different European city every two years. It used to be an annual event, but organizers now alternate each year between an Asian and European WSOP. In both cases, you’ll find plenty of satellites in the months leading up to the big event.
If you miss out on the Vegas event or would like to try for something a little closer to home, WSOPE is definitely worth a look. All the best European poker sites host qualifiers for this one in addition to many other large tournaments.