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Jennifer Shahade on satellite strategy for the PCA Ladies Event

PCA-2010-thumbnail.jpgby Jennifer Shahade

As the first winds of winter begin to chill much of US and Europe, PokerStars heats up the season with satellites into the Ladies Weekend at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA), set for January 13-16, 2011. The $215 finals will take place on Sundays at 17:30 ET on the PokerStars clock, starting with the very first final on October 31. The $3480 package consists of four nights hotel accommodations at the fabulous Atlantis Resort as well as entry into the $1000+100 ladies event. Also included is an entry into Vanessa Rousso's Ladies Poker Bootcamp and $700 to buy out all the Halloween candy fire sale leftovers. Perhaps more practically, you can use the money to book your tickets to the Bahamas.

Halloween Sunday will also feature The Ladies International Poker Tour (LIPS) final qualifiers into the Los Angeles NAPT Ladies Event on November 14. At 16:00 on October 31, a $99 satellite will award $335 buy-in and $565 for expenses, while a $36 satellite at 19:00 will allow local players to compete for just the seat.

Just in time for the PokerStars Women satellite frenzy, let's discuss some satellite strategy and game selection tips.

1. Choose Your super satellite: PokerStars offers a feast of super satellites into the weekly $215 PCA weekend satellite. There are $2.20 and $11 Rebuys and $33 Freezeouts. For those of you who have been saving up your frequent player points (FPPs) there will also be 500 FPP Rebuys. How do you decide which one to play, or which to play more often? Rebuy tournaments are often very lengthy--both because players who get knocked out in the first hour can jump back in and also because all the rebuys and add-ons create very deep stacks. Aggressive players often enjoy rebuys because you can take lots of risks without losing your tournament life. If you excel in turbos and prefer a controlled event in which you know your stake from the get-go, choose the $33 freezeouts. The $11 rebuy satellites at 20:41 are perfectly scheduled for Women's Poker League aficionados. If you like to multi-table, pop into the $11 rebuy and a half an hour later, jump into the daily US $5.50 Women's Poker League tournaments, which start at 21:10 on the PokerStars clock.

2. Adjust to the Finals: Once you do qualify to the $215 satellite, you should adjust your play compared to the super sats. You will start with 3000 chips rather than 1500 chips, so the stacks will be deeper (compared to the $33 freezeout satellites). The level of play will be higher, as some professional players will buy in directly. Participants in the European Poker Tour Monte Carlo Ladies Event online satellites included Team PokerStars Pro Veronica "princesa" Dabul of Argentina and Team PokerStars Online player Martha "marene" Herrera of Mexico.

3. Pay Attention to the Prizes: In satellites, be very aware of the payout structure. The Ladies PCA weekend satellite guarantees one $3480 prize package. Every additional $3480 in the pool allows another ticket. For any remaining money, $215 rebates (or if necessary a single prize less than $215) are awarded. After the PCA satellite registration period is over, be sure to note the exact number of prizes up for grabs. Let's take a look at two potential scenarios.

a. If 18 players participate, there will be $3600 in the prize pool. That means there will be one grand prize package up for grabs plus a $120 consolation prize for 2nd place.

b. If 40 players participate there is $8000 in the prize pool. That affords two grand prize packages, four $215 rebates, and one $180 rebate.

In scenario (a.) it's best for you not to worry about the bubble at all, since first place is about 30 times more valuable than second place. In scenario (b.) the consolation prizes are somewhat more significant (they allow you to try again the following week!), but still just about 6% of the grand prize. You should try to ignore the consolation prizes as much as possible. Play for the Bahamas, not a rebate!

4. Ask Yourself How Many Chips You'll Need to Win: If there's only one grand prize, there's only one way to get to PCA: you must take every chip in the tournament. If there are two or more seats for up for grabs, you can theoretically get your ticket to the Bahamas with just a single poker chip! (Unlikely of course.) At the early stages of satellites, I try to figure out how many times I'll need to double-up to have a realistic chance of qualifying. For instance, if 36 players participate, allowing for a prize pool of two seats, that means the average finishing stack of the two winners will be 54,000 chips (36 players x 3000 divided by two). It's possible that one of the winners could have the lioness' share of those chips but I've still found it useful to estimate how the winning stacks will size up.

5. Be Aware of Musical Poker Chairs: When there is just one player to be eliminated until two or more players win seats, you enter poker's version of musical chairs. No one wants to be the lady without a seat at the table, but the music will stop eventually. In these cases, you will see professional players folding hands that are usually considered "monsters" three-handed. The general principle that it's better to be the raiser rather than the player who calls someone else's all in raise becomes exponentially more valid. Professional player Vanessa Peng satellited into the Monte Carlo EPT Ladies Event and the US Ladies Poker Championship via PokerStars. She told Women's Poker Hour that in satellite bubbles, "You see a lot of open shoving . . . (but when someone goes all in against you) it's correct to make folds (with hands like queens), even if it doesn't feel good."

A concrete example of Vanessa's point came up for me about a month ago, when I was deep in a World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) satellite. About 20 players had to bust before I'd earn a $215 ticket. I was dealt pocket queens in the big blind and it was folded to the small blind, who went all in. My first instinct was to call, but if the small blind had a king or an ace, even with a terrible kicker, I'd have about a 28% chance of busting. My opponent may not have an ace or a king, so I made a rough estimate that my overall chances of busting if I called were 20%. The question was, if I folded and just waited to see if other people were eliminated, would I have an 80% + chance of qualifying? It was clear that I wasn't going to be able to solve this complex math problem in 60 seconds, especially since there were unknown factors, like the strength of the field. The stronger the other players were, the more they'd also be using a super tight strategy, making it hard to fold into the money. I clicked on my time bank and finally folded. A few orbits later, I was down to just a blind and a half (hardly the shortest stack in the tournament), and the tournament was over. I had a WCOOP ticket in my account.

Good luck at the first Ladies PCA Weekend qualifier this coming Halloween Sunday. I will be there, possibly wearing a mask, so no one can catch any tells off of me. Or perhaps, I'll wear my bathing suit, flip-flops, and a floppy hat, in the hopes of a very hot January.

For more details on the PCA Ladies Event tournament click HERE.

atlantis_resort_pokerstars_women.jpg

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