Saturday, 20th July 2024 12:22
Home / News / The book that will help you win online satellites on PokerStars

This is a guest post by Barry Carter.

You’ll forgive the indulgence and the fact that I open this blog with a plug. But I have co-written a book about how to win online satellites called Poker Satellite Strategy, alongside Irish poker legend Dara O’Kearney.

Last week I was at the Irish Open with Dara. We were fortunate to do a book signing for that title. PokerStars kindly agreed to buy every single one of their 500 satellite qualifiers a copy. If you won your seat to the Main Event via PokerStars, there was a copy of our book waiting for you in a goody bag.

We were delighted to take PokerStars up on this generous offer. Because in the last year we’ve seen how committed Stars have become where satellites are concerned. 

Until recently, the whole industry seemed to forget about satellites and the ‘Cinderella Stories’ they provided us with.

The poker dream is literally when an amateur player shows up and beats the pros. We get so many more instances of that dream manifesting when there has been an abundance of satellite tickets on offer. 


I should say it’s not often I am recognised in card rooms, but it happens a lot in Ireland because of my association with Dara. And last week at the Irish Open it was surprisingly overwhelming.

Every day I had people coming up to me to congratulate me on the books. But in particular a lot of people came up to me to say that they were playing in the Irish Open because they had won a seat online, thanks to our help from the book. 

This doesn’t happen every time I play poker. It’s what we call a selection bias. It was inevitable that I would be greeted by satellite winners at the Irish Open

The writing doesn’t stop after publication: Carter (left) and O’Kearney signing copies of their book which was given free to all PokerStars qualifiers

Between PokerStars, Paddy Power and live satellites, almost 1,000 people had won their seat to play in the Main Event. That was almost a third of the field. Satellite winners alone almost covered the €1 million guarantee that was comprehensively beaten. 


For around a decade satellites died online in part because the incentive structure was broken.

First they were too flexible.

Many sites allowed multiple winners or to take the value of the package as tournament dollars instead of playing the target event. This encouraged good satellite grinders to hoard the satellite liquidity.

After that, they became too inflexible. Everything became ‘must play’ with no room to win second bullets, which stopped people playing them. 

 I think PokerStars have hit the right balance now. 


For most PokerStars satellites there is a significant degree of flexibility. But you must play the first bullet.

However, after that, you can use a second package to play in side events (getting the remainder as T$). Or as a second bullet. Or in some cases at the next equivalent stop on the live tour.

This means the events themselves get the runners they need but the customer is also happy. There is nothing worse than busting the event you won a satellite for, then being priced out of the side events. But this solves that problem.

Dara won 11 tickets in total and used most of them, firing almost every Day 1 and using the rest for side events. 


The best satellite innovation I have seen since we wrote the book has been Power Path.

Here you can win a flexible package to use live or online. The caveat is that to play in the $109 final, you must first win your seat in an $11 feeder.

This removes the incentive for high stakes grinders to play the direct satellite. And it ensures that most of the eventual winners are recreational players. It is simply too time-consuming for the grinders and it is cost effective for the amateur players. 

Most of the players who contacted us to say they won their Irish Open package qualified via Power Path. And it is Power Path satellites we get the most hand history questions from in general. Clearly they have filled a much needed gap in the market. It really helps that so many $1.50 and $11 tickets are given away by PokerStars as loyalty bonuses.

Some of the many examples of players crediting the book with their satellite success…

All PokerStars qualifiers received a copy of the book, with the intention of helping them get results like this…

Satellites are a great – and cost effective – way for amateur and recreational players to win seats to big events. The type of tournaments they can otherwise only dream of playing…

The Irish Open field was full of satellite winners…

Power Path: “More recreational players are playing ‘bucket list’ events because of it.”

By now you should get the idea: This book will help you play satellites (and PokerStars is the best place to play them).


One of the biggest criticisms we got after writing Poker Satellite Strategy was that we had made satellites tougher. I’m sure we have.

My rebuttal, however, is that we likely have made the target events softer. Because we helped so many amateurs reach these events.

The same is true of Power Path. More recreational players are playing ‘bucket list’ events because of it.

Everyone wins. PokerStars get more players in their events. Amateur players play a ‘bucket list’ tournament. Pro players get softer fields. And the industry occasionally gets a marketable story about a recreational player turning $11 into a big score. 


Even better than amateur players telling us how our book helped them qualify for big events is when those same players had a big score as a result.

That happened plenty last week.

The biggest one was Alexander Davies. He came 19th in the Main Event for €14,460 after winning their seat via PokerStars sister site Paddy Power:

“Even better than amateur players telling us how our book helped them qualify for big events is when those same players had a big score as a result.”


It’s obviously in my interest to suggest a recommitment to satellites is contributing to the record numbers we’re seeing in live poker. But clearly the live game is booming with or without them.

I would make the case, however, that if we want to keep this growth going then satellites need to be a significant part of the story.

They allow the people who would otherwise be priced out of live poker to participate. And, occasionally provide us with those ‘Cinderella Stories’. Just like the Chris Moneymaker Main Event win that started the original poker boom in the first place. 

Barry Carter is the co-author of Poker Satellite Strategy alongside Dara O’Kearney. 

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