Brad Dougherty provides some
pretty good advice about
playing in poker events. At the
same time, I found only a few
really significant insights that
might not have been
thoroughly considered by an
experienced tournament or
satellite player. I believe their
fundamental strategies are
sound but not profound.
BRAD DOUGHERTY
WSOP Gallery of Champions Poker Professional Player Biography
Brad Dougherty WSOP Gallery of Champions
Brad
Dougherty
Championship Satellite Strategy
Author: Tom McEvoy and Brad Daugherty

It is often said that the person who inventing gambling was smart, but the
person who invented the gambling chip was a genius. In the same manner,
we might credit Benny Binion's smarts for basically inventing the poker
tournament, but we might call Eric Drache a genius for inventing the
tournament satellite. What is a satellite? It's a poker tournament whose
ultimate prize is the entry into a larger tournament. It is well chronicled that
2003 World Series of Poker final event champion, Chris Moneymaker,
parlayed a $40 buy-in into a $2.5 million payday through satellite
tournaments, writing for himself the ultimate rags-to-riches poker story.
Championship Satellite Strategy is the first book that focuses on satellite
tournament strategy.

The authors, Tom McEvoy and Brad Dougherty, are no strangers to this topic.
Each are well respected poker tournament veterans. They've both won the
final event at the WSOP, and have both played in and won a multitude of
tournament satellites. In fact, McEvoy is the first satellite winner to have won
the final event at the WSOP. In summary, these two are eminently qualified
to write on this topic.

There are almost as many formats for poker tournament satellites as there
are for poker tournaments themselves. Through the course of the book, the
authors discuss one-table satellites, two-tier satellites, multi-table super
satellites, and online satellites. Even though many different games are
played in the satellite format, by far the two most popular are limit and
no-limit Hold'em, and only these games are discussed here.

With the exception of final table play, a multi-table satellite plays much like a
regular tournament, and two-tier satellites play basically the same as two
consecutive satellites. Consequently, the authors focus on the one-table
tournaments and add some additional commentary about other formats as
appropriate.

Overall, McEvoy and Dougherty provide some pretty good advice about
playing in these events. At the same time, I found only a few really significant
insights that might not have been thoroughly considered by an experienced
tournament or satellite player. I believe their fundamental strategies are
sound but not profound. In short, Championship Satellite Strategy is likely to
be of significant benefit to those who are not experienced tournament or
satellite players, and less useful to those who are.

I like what the authors have to say about what sorts of hands should be
played under certain circumstances. I also like some of the criteria they
discuss for deciding when to take a rebuy in a super. For example, if the
player sitting to your left is a tough player with a pile of chips, and your table
is not scheduled to be broken for a while, that might be a good reason to not
rebuy in that particular tournament.

On the other hand, the authors say some things that I don't believe are well
thought out. Some of their criteria for deciding how many satellites to play
are arbitrary and have no mathematical foundation. Bottom line: If one has
an edge in these tournaments, actual results should not determine how
many of satellites one plays. A player who has a significant edge should not
be results oriented and give up a good thing even if they don't win one right
away. A great deal of luck goes into winning short tournament formats, so
these things tend to be extremely streaky. Of course, a short bankroll, being
well rested for the tournament itself, and beating oneself up mentally are all
good reasons to stop playing satellites, but these should be based on
personal preferences and individual circumstances, not hard-and-fast rules of
thumb.

While most of the advice in Championship Satellite Strategy is very good,
there are some things said in this book that really don't make any sense.
Dougherty recalls a situation in a tournament where he has AQ, raises half
his stack, and an AJ moves in on him, which he calls. Unfortunately, the AJ
wins the hand, and Dougherty laments not moving all in and forcing the AJ to
fold. While one could argue that moving in was the right play with this hand,
the reasons Dougherty cites are not good ones. A player who doesn't want
to play an AQ against a AJ for all their chips before the flop simply
misunderstands tournament poker. Sure, sometimes the best hand loses,
that's poker, but all a poker player can ask for is to have the AQ in this
situation a lot more often than they have the AJ, and one can't be content to
win a small pot with a huge edge when one has the opportunity to play for
more with the same edge.

As I said before, though, most of the advice in this book is good, and
although there aren't very many exciting revelations here, those new to
satellite poker are likely to learn something from this book. More experienced
players will find less of interest here. In any case, this is a respectable effort
that fills a niche in the poker book market.
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