Step up to the 2015 Super XL Qualifiers!

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Last year's Super XL Main Event Winner, Andelo Božic busted his entire first bankroll to Viktor “Isildur1” Blom back in 2009. Luckily for him, he didn't give up, getting back on the proverbial horse in 2013. And, guess what? He won his 2014 Super XL Main Event ticket by playing in a $30 satellite.

This year could be your chance at the million. Simply, play in 888poker's step satellites starting at just 1¢, to win a seat in the Super XL Main Event, happening on 31st January 2016.

There are 6 steps in total – make it through all 6 and you'll get that coveted Super XL Main Event ticket.

Here is how it all works: 

  • Step 1 – Buy in for $0.01. Win a Step 2 ticket worth $0.10. 
  • Step 2 – Buy in for $0.10 (or ticket). Win a Step 3 ticket worth $1. 
  • Step 3 – Buy in for $1 (or ticket). Win a Step 4 ticket worth $5. 
  • Step 4 – Buy in for $5 (or ticket). Win a step 5 ticket worth $30. 
  • Step 5 – Buy in for $30 (or ticket). Win a step 6 ticket worth $160. 
  • Step 6 – Buy in for $160 (or ticket). Win a step 7 ticket worth $1,050. 

Steps Structure

The first thing here is to notice that we don't necessarily have to start at Step 1. We can enter the steps at whichever level we feel comfortable with. Our level of comfort is essentially determined by our bankroll and which buy-in we can afford. It also might be determined by the time we have available to play poker. Grinding up from step 1 may take multiple attempts and much more time.

Another important thing to notice is that the blind structure changes based on the levels. The higher the step level, the slower the tournament structure. Step 1 and 2 are super-turbos, Step 3 and 4 are turbos and Step 5 + 6 are regular speed. The blind levels will change at 3-minute, 6-minute and 10-minute intervals respectively. We should also notice that while every tournament starts at the 10/20 blind levels, the starting stacks will be different. The starting stacks are 1000, 2000, and 3000, respectively. 

Steps Strategy

Good MTT strategy will change based on the structure, including the payout structure. This means that we shouldn't approach each of the steps tournaments with the same strategy. Regarding the payout structure, we should notice that this is not a winner-takes-all tournament; at least not in the majority of cases. The number of steps tickets awarded for each tournament is dependent on the number of entries. The more entries, the bigger the total prize-pool and the more tickets awarded.

Since step tournaments run around the clock, we are more likely to be playing close to a winner-takes-all tournament when playing at off-peak times. It's not necessarily the case that tournaments with fewer entries are more profitable since the number of tickets awarded is proportional to the number of entries. But it's worth keeping in mind that the steps tournaments we choose to join should possibly be based on if we like playing short-handed, or not.

If we play in a Steps tournament with very few entries, we'll need to play short-handed, possibly even heads-up, in order to claim a ticket. If we feel this is a weaker part of our game, and we prefer to play at full tables, then joining a bigger steps qualifier might be a good idea. Perhaps, we only need to last until the top 20 to get a ticket, rather than having to play short-handed. 

Deep vs Shallow – Slow vs Fast

Shallow + Fast –
The lower steps start off with a shallow stack (50bb) and follow the super-turbo format. This means that certain types of hands go down in value while other types of hands increase. We want to avoid playing risky hands in many situations, sticking to hands that have good raw equity, AQ/AK, pocket-pairs etc.

We should be looking to push our edges as soon as they come, rather than waiting for a better opportunity. By the time the next good opportunity comes several blind levels may have passed, and we could find ourselves hopelessly short-stacked. We have to accept the fact that we will be getting all-in with weaker hands pre-flop, rather than waiting for premiums.

Assuming we have a non-premium, it's always good to be the one shoving all-in rather than the one calling a shove. A common mistake is to underestimate how wide we should be shoving pre-flop when the stacks get shallow. If you are interested in finding more about this, it's recommended that you look into ICM calculations to help establish what your shoving ranges should be when shallow. 

Deep + Slow – Slower formats really allow us to play more poker. Speculative hands are now back on the table, and we have a little more time to wait for good spots. We don't want to be recklessly stacking off pre-flop with 250bb. We can wait until the stacks get shallower before we need to start following the strategies described above, regarding shallow-stacked poker.

Post-flop play is also a little more important here. With 50bb stacks, we are often going to be all-in before we even reach turn and river. With the deeper stacks, hand-reading is much more important so we can make the best turn and river decisions. Deeper stacked decisions require more skill. This is our opportunity to really let our poker skills shine.

Winner Takes All vs Folding Wars

It's always important to analyse whether our tournament is following a winner-takes-all structure or whether there are a decent number of tickets up for grabs.

Let's analyse the following two scenarios, which at first seem very similar but are actually completely different.

Scenario 1 – 10 players left, 1 ticket available. Winner takes all. We are in 5th place. We have 8bb remaining and are on the BTN with K9o. Action is folded to us.

We really have to be shoving here. We have a great opportunity to take down the blinds before the next blind level appears. True, we might end up getting called and losing, but if we fold here our chances of winning the ticket are extremely low. Shoving is correct.

Scenario 2 – 10 players left, 9 tickets available. We are in 5th place. We have 8bb remaining and are on the BTN with K9o. Action is folded to us.

More or less exactly the same situation, except for one important difference. This is no longer a winner-takes-all tournament, and if we can survive until just one other guy goes “bust-o”, we have bagged ourselves a ticket. Shoving would be a very bad choice here because there are still 5 other guys who have shorter stacks than us, and will either be blinded out or have to make a commitment decision before we run out of chips.


We put ourselves at risk when all we have to do is keep folding in order to freeroll a shot at the ticket. If the other players at the table are aware of the situation they will also be folding relentlessly, while the guys in last place try to steal the blinds or win an all-in. This is referred to as a “folding war”.

Hopefully, what this tells us is that we should constantly be aware of the tournament structure even while we are playing. It makes sense to keep the lobby open and to keep track of our current stack size, the payout structure, and exactly which position we are in.

All we need now is a little poker magic to make it that $1 million GTD Main Event.

Time to “step” it up!




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