Since 1982, players at the World Series of Poker have had the option of winning their way into events via single table satellites (STS). While much of the STS action was for the Main Event, players could potentially win a seat into any bracelet event at the WSOP.
Unfortunately, the era of single-table satellites is no more. According to the recently published rules for the 2023 World Series of Poker, most STSs have been eliminated. Much of this is due to tax rules and government intervention in the United States. However, this change will impact anyone travelling to the WSOP and wanting to win their way into events.
Single Table Satellites Largely Eliminated From WSOP Schedule
Last week, WSOP officials released the official rules for the 2023 World Series of Poker. One of the biggest changes in the rules is the elimination of the majority of STSs. In the past, single table satellites, aka Sit & Gos, were held daily. These events had a variety of buy-ins, and players could potentially win their way into most WSOP events.
Are you one of the many players that relied on WSOP lammers via single-table satellites (STS)?
Unfortunately, it's the end of a 40-year era. This format will no longer be available at summer camp.
Haley Hintze gives us a breakdown: https://t.co/ykOI5NcYmc pic.twitter.com/fc6l9g65lk
— Poker Org (@pokerorg) April 14, 2023
The winner of each satellite would get chips that could be exchanged for tournament buy-ins. For example, a $175 satellite would award $1,500 in lammers for uses in $1,500 buy-in events. It was common to hear of people playing their way into many events during the summer.
Now, players must find alternative ways to win their entry into standard bracelet events as those satellites have been eliminated. Some STS events will still be held for the WSOP Main Event. Also, some STSs will be held for the Flip & Go event. However, in those cases, players will not receive tournament chips but will be immediately entered into the events they win a seat for.
Why Did the WSOP Make the Change?
The US government is primarily to blame for the change in WSOP policy. In the past, it was common for players to play in multiple WSOP events and sell their chips to other players. Some of these players would turn massive profits from STTs. This money was unreported by the casino and led to many players skirting IRS laws.
Poker media veteran and former semi-pro poker player James Guill share some insight into how things worked. Guill explained, “My first year playing poker, I supplemented my bankroll with single table satellites. When I won a chip, I would either sell the chips directly to other players or use them to buy into other satellites. I would collect money from other players and pay for everyone’s satellite with the lammers won in other satellites.”
So no more single table satellites at WSOP, where you can essentially keep the cash & don’t have to play the winnings
They’re being replaced by mega sattys where you must play the main I understand?
How much will this impact main event numbers? Gotta drive numbers up I imagine https://t.co/SGT3I1UGE8
— Faraz Jaka (@FarazJaka) April 14, 2023
This underground economy caught the attention of both the Internal Revenue Service and the US Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. As such, the WSOP began cracking down on players that sold lammers. However, the policies were hard to enforce.
According to Guill, the WSOP had infrequently enforced this policy long before 2021. However, he confirmed that enforcement was sporadic. He said that players focused primarily on the player-to-player direct transfer of chips between people they already knew to get around the enforcement.
The amount of money exchanged hands between players is unknown. For example, Guill told us, “On my best streak, I played for three months on the proceeds from STS. It’s no different from people who hustle tournament venues’ cash games. The main difference is that the lammers were harder to trace.”
Crackdowns Significantly Reduced Satellite Traffic Before Ban
Ultimately, the ban was not wholly unexpected. According to reports, the STS traffic at the 2022 WSOP was much less than in previous years. The crackdowns on players being able to transfer lammers resulted in many abandoning SNGs.
According to Guill, “The dropoff in traffic was expected. I knew several satellite hustlers who gave up on the WSOP once the crackdowns started.” Guill also stated that he would not be surprised if single table satellites started showing up more at WSOP.com in NV, NJ, and PA since the government could track them.
The end of the STS era is someone bittersweet as it has produced many champions in the past. The most notable is 1983 WSOP Main Event Champion Tom McEvoy. He won his seat in a $1,000 satellite and went on to win the event.
For some players, some WSOP events will be unattainable due to the reduction in satellites. As Guill explains, “When I played, I could afford a couple of events, but I was able to satellite my way into 2 to 4 events a summer. It was a great way to take a shot at an event without killing your bankroll. Many amateur players can’t afford $1,500 and up for a single tournament. However, they could come up with $175. I’m hopeful that an alternative will be available for those who want to play something other than the Main Event.”
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