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Qualifying for Big Live Poker Events – Is It Worth the Bother?

qualifying for live poker events

5 minutes

Last Updated: October 18, 2023

The last couple of months of 2023 are going to be jam-packed with big live events. There is the NAPT by PokerStars just around the corner, followed by WSOP Paradise and WPT World Championship in December. On the other side of the world, PokerStars will be hosting its EPT event in Prague.

If you’re a (semi) recreational player who loves tournaments, it’s hard to look at all these events coming up and stay put. A buzz of major tournaments is one of the best feelings a poker fan can experience, not to mention going on a hot run and making a final table or two.

The number one thing preventing most players who’d like to join the action is money, plain and simple. Buy-ins alone will set you back a few grand, not to mention travel, accommodation, and other related expenses. So, paying out of pocket is often not an option.

But there is a much cheaper potential path via online satellites. Almost all online poker sites are running satellites to their flagship events right now. You can qualify for WSOP Paradise via GGPoker; PokerStars is running satellites for NAPT and EPT, and WPT Global offers you a way to secure your seat in the Championship event.

One question I’ll try to somewhat answer in this article is if these are worth your time and money or if your poker bankroll would be better used elsewhere. If you’re a recreational player with a few hundred or even a few thousand to work with, does it make sense to pursue these qualifiers?

It’s not the Best Bankroll Management

Even if you don’t know much about poker, one thing you’ve probably heard a lot about is bankroll management. There are all sorts of formulas and systems out there, but with all of them, the bottom line is you want to use your poker money in the most efficient way to maximize profits and minimize the risk of ruin.

If you have $1,000 to work with and decide to put $500 towards qualifiers for live events, it’s certainly not the most “responsible” thing to do. You’ll get a few shots that may turn into nothing, and even if you do qualify, that’s just the first step.

All of a sudden, you’ll find yourself playing in a tournament that’s way above your usual buy-in level, having to make decisions for the kind of money you’re not used to. Even a min-cash in an event like the WPT World Championship might be bigger than your biggest score to date.

That’s if you make it into the money. If you don’t, you’ll have spent half of your bankroll plus some extra cash (no trip is ever free, let’s be honest), and you’ll have nothing to show for it. It’s certainly not the most responsible or professional thing to do.

The fact of the matter is, if you’re a winning player, that $1,000 bankroll can provide very nice returns over months and years if you stick to online tournaments with an average buy-in of around $10. In a few years, you may even build a big enough bankroll to go to one of these events on your own dime. Slow and steady wins the race, right?

What Is Poker to You?

You’ll often hear that if you can’t afford to buy into a particular tournament, you shouldn’t be playing satellites, either. In the famous words of Teddy KGB, “this one is not for you.” But I don’t think it’s that simple, and the real question to ask is – what is poker to you?

If you’re really serious about the game and see it as a steady source of side income that has the potential to grow, then by all means, keep at it.

But if it is a fun hobby that also makes you (or costs you) a bit of money, there is a very good case to be made for trying your hand at these qualifiers. The excitement of playing in one of these tournaments can’t be compared to any type of online grind.

If you’ve never been to a major event like WSOP or EPT, you’ll get memories that will last you a while and maybe even a lifetime if you manage to go on a deep run. Not to mention all the fun you can have away from the tables, especially if you’re someone who likes traveling and exploring new places.

There is a lot of EV that transcends pure monetary value, and even professionals will sometimes talk about “life EV.” You’ll have plenty of time to rebuild your bankroll one way or another, but the window for creating those memories and giving yourself a shot at “poker glory” may be limited.

The Question Isn’t Why, but Why Not

Live poker has been on a serious uptick in the last couple of years, and it’s almost like experiencing another poker boom. So, if you’ve always dreamt of joining the action but were too shy to pull that trigger, this might be the best time to finally do it.

From one fan of the game to another, if you can afford it otherwise (time, non-poker-related obligations), why not get your feet wet in a few of these satellites and see how things go? It may not be the best bankroll management, but that’s the beauty of being a “rec.” You don’t have to follow those rules that closely!

Even professionals take shots, and the experience you’re looking at if one of these shots goes the right way will be way more thrilling than jumping from NL25 to NL200 for a few orbits or buying into a $215 online tournament when you usually play at a $5 level.

Not many people get to live the poker dream, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t close your eyes for a few short moments and at least experience the feeling. And, who knows, if Lady Luck is by your side, you just might not have to wake up!

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