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Several popular poker sites have been shut down recently. There are now very few legal online U.S. poker sites.
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Poker Sites with Best Satellites

Page summary: In poker, ‘satellites’ is a term used to describe games which have prizes of entry to bigger buy-in tournaments. Essentially these are qualifier tournaments which allow players who do not want to spend the money to buy-in directly to win seats in big events. These events can be live poker tournaments (up to and including the World Series of Poker), or online poker events – for example the PokerStars’ Sunday Million.

The popularity of satellite qualifiers has surged over recent years. You can now find these games at just about every online poker site – and in many different formats too. This page gives you an idea of what to expect from qualifiers, and gives you recommendations of the best place to play these – both for US based and Worldwide players.

Poker Sites with Qualifiers to Live and Online Poker Events

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Rank Poker Site Bonus Amount Bonus Code play poker online Start Playing play poker online
1 100% up to $1000 *Use Link Bovada.eu
2 100% up to $2000 *Use Link IgnitionCasino.eu
3 100% up to $2500 *Use Link BetOnline.com

Poker Satellite Formats Found Online

There are two main categories of poker satellites, tournaments and sit n goes. Within each of these there are several different variations.

Tournament Satellites: The standard setup would be that you enter a multi-table tournament with seats in the next game given as prizes in proportion to the buy-in. For example, your target is a $200 buy-in online game, and the satellite costs $20. One in ten entrants will win the ticket to the big game – with any left-over money given away as cash to player who finished just before the ticket paying places.

Within this general setup you can find a lot of variations in speed (turbo, and even hyper-turbo games are common), and rebuy possibilities (including 2nd chance games and games where you can buy-in as often as you like for a limited time).

Since many target tournaments have huge buy-ins, satellite qualifiers are often organized into tiers. The first level gets you entry into level 2 and so on. This allows games to start from just pennies (or even for free) that can eventually lead to entry to $10,000+ live tournament events.

Sit N Go Satellites: The basic format here is a 1-table tournament, which awards the overall winner entry into a bigger buy-in event. These have the advantage of being quick and straightforward.  Once again there are plenty of variations. The number of players (from 3 and up if you include lottery Sit N Goes), the speed and the number of prizes awarded can all be varied.

A common way of organizing Sit N Go satellites is via ‘Steps’. This involves a series of 1-table tournaments, you win entry into each successive game by finishing in the top 2 spots at a lower level. There are also ‘try again’ runner up places in steps at some sites.

What You Can Qualify for in Online Poker Satellites

You can win some amazing prizes in satellite qualifiers. Sites will offer prize packages to big live tournament events including the World Series of Poker (and WSOPE), WPT and EPT games plus one-off events like the Aussie Millions. These include entry to the main tournament, which is usually $10,000+. In addition, you’ll get accommodation, travel and expenses included. These packages are worth $12,000 and up. Exactly which tournaments have qualifiers depends on the yearly events calendar.

As the popularity of live tournaments has grown, there are many more tours and one-off events that you can qualify for online. These include smaller regional poker tours in the UK and Europe, as well as the big brands like the EPT. With buy-ins around $1000 to $5000, and smaller travel expense top-ups – the buy-ins for the online satellites to these events is often smaller.

Online poker events also have qualifiers. The biggest and best known of these are the WCOOP (World Championship of Online Poker) and SCOOP (Spring Championship). Most sites now have their own events. Examples include the Online Super Series at America’s Cardroom, Super XL Series at 888 and Poker Fest Online at Party Poker.

Many of these events have huge ($500+) buy-in main events, and give as many players as possible a shot at this level buy running a lot of satellite qualifiers. Look out for games with a guaranteed number of seats on offer – you can sometimes find overlays.

The final type of qualifier is more mundane. These are for the regular bigger buy-in and guaranteed prize pool events at your site. You can win seats in a $50 weekend tournament, or in the Sunday Million!

Where to Play Online Poker Satellites

US players can play satellites at all the major offshore sites. These are for live events out in the Caribbean (the Punta Cana Classic for example) and sometimes in Vegas too. When the OSS comes around, America’s Cardroom makes a big effort to spread satellite qualifiers. All the sites also run SNGs and MTT qualifiers to their bigger buy-in Sunday tournaments.

Where you play satellites if you are based outside of the US will depend on which tournament you want to target. Some of the big tours are owned by the poker sites – for example the EPT and PokerStars, or the WPT which is owned by Party Poker. When it comes to the World Series of Poker you’ll have a huge choice – as just about every poker room would like you to be playing the main event in their logoed merchandise!