A great way to play your way in to big money poker tournaments for very little or no money is to participate in satellite tournaments. All the big online poker rooms run them. Simply put a satellite poker tournament offers a number of seats to a larger one. A disciplined and strategic approach can see you work your way up to a slice of big money action. Here's how.
An initial consideration you must take is to understand the structure. It may be offering a guaranteed number of seats to the next stage for example. Once you know what the cut off point is to secure your progression then that becomes your goal as there is often no prize money on offer in a satellite poker tournament. All you need is that seat to the next round.
The number of seats on offer to the later stages will affect your strategic decisions as by their nature satellites tend to be very similar to multi-table tournaments. Always be aware of how many seats are on offer and where the cut off point is. Your sole goal is to secure one of those seats, not to win.
In the early stages play a tight game to preserve your chip stack unless you have an absolute monster of a hand and are the overwhelming favourite to win the hand. Use table position wisely. Let the all-in merchants knock themselves out and thin the field for you. Every one of your opponents who is eliminated takes you one step closer to your goal of securing one of those guaranteed progression seats.
In the middle stages now that the field has thinned out your play might depend on your chip stack. If in the early states you've hit great cards and been lucky enough to accumulate a big chip stack you can sit back and pick your moments to get involved. If you have a medium sized stack then pick your fights carefully as you still need chips. Try not to tangle with big stack players who can eliminate you and instead look to go in against players with a similar stack size or small stacked players you feel confident will fold. Play tight from early position and look for stealing opportunities when you are in late position. If you are a short stack then pick a time for the hail Mary and a double up to keep you in the game.
Always keep a watch on the number of players left and take a view on what you need to do to remain in long enough to secure that all important next round seat. How you do this will depend on your stack size after the middle stages and as the bubble approaches. If you have a large chip stack you can fold your way in to the next round. If you have a medium stack play a solid game using position and selecting smaller stacked players who may well fold to any move you make as they are desperate to stay in hoping others will fall. Of course if you have a small stack yourself the hail Mary call is your most effective, and possibly only, weapon though be selective when you use it. For example your all-in push from late position against a fellow small stacked opponent may not get called and you have stolen enough chips to see yourself through another few hands which might just be enough to get you in to one of those all important next round seats.
By playing solid strategy in satellite poker tournaments you really can play your way in to the later stages of some serious money without spending entry fees. Do not dismiss these tournaments as gimmicks and instead view them as an opportunity. And I wish you every success.