Whether you’re trying to hold your poker face together at the high-stakes tables in Las Vegas or you’re showing your savviness for playing hands online, poker is inarguably one of the most amusing forms of gambling available today. Poker tournaments are becoming particularly more prevalent with the rise of sites like PokerStars and, of course, the annual World Series of Poker. For most players, it’s a chance to transform a small investment into a life-changing sum of money and, if you’re skilled enough, maybe even a career.
While hundreds of thousands of online tournaments run every day of the week, in-person games in a real land-based casino are the most exciting. After all, there’s nothing like sitting down at a real felt table with others and being able to embrace the feel of the cards and chips as you compete for the top prize.
The Most Popular World Poker Events
The world’s biggest and most famous poker tournaments are the World Series of Poker (WSOP), the World Poker Tour (WPT), and the European Poker Tour (EPT). Each one of these tournaments is hosted in a different casino or venue across the globe and is televised to thousands of viewers every year.
The main prize money can be anywhere between a few hundred thousand dollars to a few million for each event, but players also have the chance to win smaller cash pots throughout the elimination rounds. In the WSOP, players also compete for bracelets as much as the prize money or a winning title.
How Much Does it Cost to Enter a Poker Tournament?
Even though making it into the finals for one of these events is every avid poker player’s dream, the buy-in is what holds most people back. To qualify for entry into a main event of the EPT, you’d be looking at a 5,300 euro buy-in. To get into the WSOP, you’d have to pay anywhere between $1,000 and a whopping $50,000 to earn a seat at the table.
Unless you are already a successful poker player or someone in a high-paying profession, the chances are you’re going to struggle to come up with the buy-in amount for most major poker tournaments. Even if you could, you would still need to factor in other costs like travel, food, and accommodation, which, if you are lucky enough to make it through the first round, are going to be ongoing expenses that will add up very quickly.
Don’t let all this put you off your goals of becoming the next poker champion, though, because there are easier ways to win a seat at the world’s biggest tournaments without needing to leave the house.
How to Get Free Entry Into a Major Poker Event
If you’ve ever signed up and played poker at sites like 888poker, Betfair, PokerStars, PKR, or Full Tilt Poker, you may have come across special tournaments called “satellites.” These tournaments are the same as any other online poker game, but instead of playing for cash, players compete for a seat at one of the world’s biggest in-person poker tournaments.
Some of these satellite games even offer all-inclusive packages as prizes, which include a seat plus all of your accommodation and travel. The following are the most popular types of satellite contests you’ll be able to play at the majority of poker sites:
If you haven’t got much time to spare and would rather leave it up to chance as to whether you qualify for a seat at an event, an all-in or “flip” satellite is going to be your best option. Every player automatically goes all in from the start because the stakes, antes and blinds are set so high to begin with. The buy-ins tend to be quite small for these types of
tournaments. Once you enter, you’ll remain in the tournament until there is a winner.
In these tournaments, players compete for a seat at the main event only, which means there are no cash prizes or other rewards they can win. Seat-only satellites are ideal if you live near where an event is being held, or you know someone else who does.
Steps satellites are one of the most popular types of satellite contests because they give players the chance to win a comprehensive package for an event without expensive buy-ins or high antes. These tournaments are usually single-table games that see winners progress through each round until they win the big prize.
In many cases, a steps satellite will let you have another shot at the same step round if you come in second or third place. However, if you’re not in the top three places, you won’t qualify for the next round and will be pushed back to the previous lower step. These tournaments are a lot of fun, and they allow players to make small buy-ins that last a number of rounds as they attempt to proceed to the next levels.
As you can probably guess, a full package is a satellite contest that offers the whole shebang as a prize. This includes a seat at one of the top events plus money to cover travel and accommodation. Some tournament operators may even chuck in complimentary spending money.
These full package tournaments normally become available a couple of months in advance of the official event start date. For the EPT, you’ll only be able to qualify for a seat through PokerStars. For the WPT, you need to go from PartyPoker, and for the WSOP, players can opt-in via sites like Betfair and 888Poker, which both offer these packages.
Hopefully that’s given you some helpful insights into how you can earn a spot in some of the world’s most prestigious poker tournaments. Once you’ve picked a satellite tournament, be sure to register with your preferred poker site to make sure you become eligible to receive special bonuses and other offers.