WSOPE Qualifiers & Satellites

Qualifiers, also known as satellite tournaments, are the way to go when you want to play in a high dollar, live or online tournament, but you don’t want to pony up hundreds or thousands of dollars. The idea behind these tournaments is to give you the opportunity to enter a relatively expensive event for a lesser amount.

For example, you could enter a $10,000 event for $40, or less, like Chris Moneymaker did in 2003. As you know he parlayed that score into a $2.5 million Main Event win, which changed his life (and online poker) forever.

Satellites are available for most tournaments over $20 online, and a $100-$200 live. Especially for the well-known events. So you earn a seat to the Sunday Million, World Poker Tour, World Series of Poker and World Series of Poker Europe. Any tournament, really.

When you win a seat to one of the live events you'll be given your buy-in, which can vary from $1,000 to a little over $10,000, plus fees. Often times live event satellites will be 'packages,' which usually means that, in addition to the buy-in, you will also receive spending money (which may or may not include airfare) and hotel accommodations. From what I've seen the packages are 25-50 percent more than the buy-in for the tournament. It’s a great deal. And if you can’t make it, sometimes you’re able to sell them off or cash them in instead.

Qualify for the World Series of Poker Europe

With all of this talk about qualifying for tournaments, and the World Series of Poker Europe coming up in a couple of months, I thought it'd be neat to talk more about that tournament, including what you can do to qualify for it inexpensively.

Brief History of the WSOPE

The WSOPE is an expansion of the World Series of Poker that's held every year in Las Vegas. It got it's start in 2007. The first year they only ran 3 tournaments, and each year the series has grown by a tournament on average. Here's what each series has ran up to 2012.


  • Event 1 - $2,500 HORSE
  • Event 2 - $5,000 PLO
  • Event 3 - $10,000 NLH Main Event


  • Event 1 - $1,500 NLH
  • Event 2 - $2,500 HORSE
  • Event 3 - $5,000 PLO
  • Event 4 - $10,000 NLH Main Event


  • Event 1 - $1,000 NLH
  • Event 2 - $2,500 NLH/PLO
  • Event 3 - $5,000 PLO
  • Event 4 - $10,000 NLH Main Event


  • Event 1 - $2,650 6-Max NLH
  • Event 2 - $5,250 PLO
  • Event 3 - $1,075 NLH
  • Event 4 - $10,350 NLH Heads Up
  • Event 5 - $10,350 NLH Main Event


  • Event 1 - $2,680 6-Max NLH
  • Event 2 - $1,090 NLH
  • Event 3 - $5,300 PLO
  • Event 4 - $3,200 NLH Shootout
  • Event 5 - $10,400 NLH (Split)
  • Event 6 - $1,620 6-Max PLO
  • Event 7 - $10,400 NLH Main Event


  • Event 1 - $2,700 6-Max NLH
  • Event 2 - $1,100 NLH
  • Event 3 - $5,300 PLO
  • Event 4 - $3,250 NLH Shootout
  • Event 5 - $10,450 Mixed Max NLH
  • Event 6 - $1,650 6-Max PLO
  • Event 7 - $10,450 NLH Main Event

The Main Event is a big deal, just like it is in the WSOP. It costs $10,000 to enter, and prize pools are in the millions of dollars. Here are the previous WSOPE Main Event winners:

  • 2007 – Annette Obrestad
  • 2008 – John Juanda
  • 2009 – Barry Shulman
  • 2010 – James Bord
  • 2011 – Elio Fox
  • 2012 – Phil Hellmuth

Phil Hellmuth won his second bracelet of 2012 at the WSOPE Main Event, which was one of his first two bracelets in about 5 years. This also created history, as Phil was the first to have won a bracelet in both main events.

Types of WSOPE Qualifiers

With all of this talk about qualifier tournaments and the WSOPE, lets now look at a couple of ways that you can qualify for the 2013 WSOPE Main Event, which will be held in Paris towards the end of the year.

Main Event Qualifier – Most sites will run something similar to this. These tournaments will be a direct satellite, meaning that if you win this tournament, you get a seat. These will cost you about $500-$600 to enter, and will usually come in the form of a package. So for $500-$600, you get your buy-in, airfare, hotel and some spending money.

Step Tournaments – Step tournaments are a series of tournaments. There are usually 5 to 10 of them, starting at a low buy-in of 10 cents to 1 dollar, and ending with a tournament with a buy-in of $500-$600.

The idea behind these is to give you the choice of where to start between the two points. When you win a tournament (or get a high enough finish), you move on to the next ‘step.’ What’s great about these is that if you finish somewhere in the middle, you often get a do over, or an opportunity to try the next tournament down. Everyone else loses.

So not only can you get in and win a seat for cheap, you can get multiple opportunities and entertainment value for a small investment.

So far these are the only two types of tournaments being offered. I expect more to be added as we get closer to the start of the WSOPE. Keep in mind that each tournament will be different (from one poker site to the next); some will be add-on/re-buys, others will be shootouts and then some will award seats to 2x (or more) winners. Each site will be different, so you might want to shop around to find the type of tournament that you like to play, as well as the one that gives you the best chances of winning.

And winning should be relatively easier than your standard tournament, especially at the lower levels of the step tournaments. The reason being is that qualifiers and satellites attract players with smaller bankrolls – and smaller skill sets – so even players will just the basics under their belts stand a chance at making a deep run.

Of course, there’s a lot of luck and time involved, too, especially if you don’t win right away, but are bouncing from one level to the next trying to get some traction. But in the end it will be all worthwhile, especially if you can parlay a satellite seat into an awesome European vacation, and possibly a live tournament score worth a 5-7 figure sum.