LearnWPT Poker Study Session: ICM and Satellite Strategy

WPT-Championship-Wynn-Las-Vegas- ICM-Satellite

Photo credit: Drew Amato

Over the next 2 months Team LearnWPT is hosting Poker Study Sessions for Members to get their game ready to dominate the 2023 WPT® World Championship Festival at Wynn Las Vegas.

For each Study Session we'll provide Members with a curriculum that focuses on specific concepts essential for tournament success - our next Session is focused on ICM, Bubble, & Satellite Strategy!

First, watch the selected Episodes, play the WPT GTO Trainer packs, and write down any questions you have
Then join Team LearnWPT LIVE on Wednesday, November 15th at 6PM ET / 3PM PT to discuss the study session topics

Let's Get Started...

📚 Study Session 5: ICM and Satellite Strategy

The WPT® World Championship Festival at Wynn Las Vegas is a unique opportunity for poker players who normally wouldn’t dream of spending $10K on a poker buy-in. Whether it’s through online satellites on ClubWPT.com and WPTGlobal.com, or by taking advantage of the many live opportunities offered by WPT partner casinos across the world, there are countless satellites where you can turn a small buy-in into a life changing score.

If you do secure a seat and make a deep run, you’ll need to be ready for some tough decisions that could mean the difference between making your buy-in back and tripling your bankroll. Adjusting your strategy for situations near the tournament money bubble, when facing big pay jumps, and approaching the final table will play a huge part in how many zeros are at the end of your payslip.

Our next Study Session will focus on the factors you need to consider when facing a tough decision on the Bubble, as well as specific differences between satellites and traditional multi-table tournaments. We’ll discuss how ICM (Independent Chip Model) influences hand ranges and betting, plus outline specific strategy for Milestone Satellites.

Save the Date: 📅 Live Session November 15th


Join Eric "Rizen" Lynch and Adrian Naggy for a LIVE Study Session on Wednesday, November 15th at 6PM ET | 3PM PT

Make sure you watch the selected Strategy Episodes, practice the suggested WPT GTO Trainer packs, and write down any questions you have. Join Rizen & Adrian on November 15th to discuss the study session topics and to get answers to your questions.

🤔 Send your questions to [email protected] about ICM and Satellites and we’ll answer them during the Live Study Session.


Thanks to everyone who joined the Live Study Session!

Did you miss it? No worries! Members can rewatch the Study Sessions anytime on the Webinars Dashboard.

🛰️ Satellite Into a WPT Championship Event!

Satellite poker tournaments are a great way to play a larger buy-in event at a lower price so you don’t need to have big bucks to be in contention for a game-changing score.

Strategies for Satellites can be very different from a normal Tournament, and you’ll need to make some adjustments to your strategy that may seem strange compared to standard tournaments to help increase your edge in a satellite.

Use these strategies to sharpen your focus and maybe you’ll turn a few bucks into a huge payday...

Should You Play a Satellite Differently?


Approaching satellite play with the same strategy used in a regular poker tournament will often result in you busting when you would otherwise have a seat to the target tournament locked up.

EP133-Satellite Play

Watch this Strategy Episode from LearnWPT Instructor Nick Binger as he discusses the key adjustments you need to make when playing Satellite Poker Tournaments.

Not a Member? Join for just $5 your first month to watch the full Episodes and attend the LIVE Study Session.

Need Help Closing The Deal?

EP134-Satellite End Game

In this Strategy Episode watch and learn as Nick reviews several key hands from a Satellite tournament to highlight the unique adjustments during the endgame.

Have a Strategy question?
Email them to [email protected] and we’ll answer them during the November 15th Live Study Session.

Tips for Milestone Satellite Play

In a Milestone Satellite a player must accumulate a specific chip stack amount designated by the poker room ("The Milestone") to be awarded the tournament prize - the Milestone is usually noted in the rules and structure sheet (see pages 66-74).

As in a traditional satellite format, players may also win a seat by surviving until the number of seats available in the prize pool equals the number of players remaining, however achieving a verified Milestone stack at any point in the Tournament automatically guarantees that player a seat to the target event.

Example: You are playing a $1,100 buy-in Milestone Satellite to the $10,400 buy-in $40M GTD WPT World Championship with a starting chip stack of 20,000 and the "Milestone" is 230,000 chips. Once a player's chip stack reaches 230,000 chips they are instantly awarded a seat into the event and their chips removed from play.

The satellite will conclude when the number of players remaining is equal to the number of $10,400 prizes generated based on the Tournament Prize formula, less the the amount of players who have previously won by reaching The Milestone.

  • Milestone Satellites prioritize a more risky playing style than traditional satellites, similar to bounty tournaments
  • Specific opponent tendencies play a big factor in your approach and dictate whether going for the Milestone is a priority
  • Larger raise sizes may have increased fold equity against opponents close to the Milestone (within 5-10BBs) due to poor risk/reward
  • Don’t lose site of the Milestone in later stages when effective stacks are shallow - a few preflop steals could be enough to secure your seat
  • The endgame of a Milestone satellite can be chaotic - stay focused on the best strategy for your stack size and specific table conditions
  • Remember that you don’t always have to get to the Milestone to win a seat, you can still use traditional satellite strategy and have a good chance

Take these strategies to the Wynn Las Vegas poker room and play a $400 Double Play Milestone Satellite to secure your seat into the $1,100 WPT Prime or Ladies Championship, a Milestone Satellite to $10,400 buy-in $40M GTD WPT Championship, or other Wynn Festival events.


Click here for the full schedule of satellites and tournaments

Tim Fiorvanti sat down with Wynn Executive Director of Poker Operations Ryan Beauregard and Tournament Director Ray Pulford to discuss the innovation of their Milestone Satellites - read more.

Test Your Satellite Skills!

In a Satellite to the WPT World Championship with QQ-optmzd

You are playing a milestone satellite to the $40 Million guaranteed WPT World Championship Main Event at Wynn Las Vegas with blinds at 50/100 and a 100 big blind ante. You are in the Small Blind with Q♠Q♥ and 4,600 chips (46BBs). An Early Position player limps, a visibly frustrated player in the MP2 seat makes it 300, the Button flat calls, and action is on you. What do you do here?

Click here to get detailed analysis of this hand from Team LearnWPT and learn more strategy behind the correct plays.

Understanding Bubble Play

Deeper effective stacks and championship blind levels means that you will be playing speculative cards at a higher frequency and flopping your share of draws. With skilled opponents and a reentry available, the frequency with which your opponents are likely to be taking chances with this category of hands also greatly increases.

EP61-Bubble Play

Watch this Strategy Episode as LearnWPT Instructor Nick Binger introduces Bubble Play and how to use aggression on the bubble in a tournament to help improve your chances of accumulating chips and maximize your ROI (return on investment).

Let's Take a Closer Look...

Bubble play is often the most challenging aspect of tournament poker, especially with millions of dollars at stake.

You hold Pocket Kings on the Final Table bubble of a Main Event and two players go all-in ahead of you. If you win the pot, you are the chip-leader. If you lose the pot, you are the short stack.

Sounds like a dream scenario?

EP238-WSOP Final Table Bubble

Watch this Strategy Episode as Nick breaks down the action from an ultra-high stakes Final Table and provides detailed analysis of the strategic points considered when facing a $2 million dollar decision!

ICM Pressure on Preflop Ranges

Strategy adjustments for various tournament stages must consider the impact of ICM and the specific factors in play at your table. When there are different stack sizes and a huge gap in pay between 1st and 9th place, making the most profitable decisions can seem daunting.

When you are the chip leader at a final table it’s also crucial to understand how dramatic ICM will affect your opponent’s strategy, and when you can use ruthless aggression to punish your foes on the way to victory. In both cases, the key to making better decisions with ICM in play starts with adjusting first-in hand ranges.

EP400-ICM Pressure on Preflop Ranges

Watch this Strategy Episode as Nick breaks down ranges and adjustments across stack sizes and describes how you should be approaching these spots at your next final table.

Are You GTO Ready?

Picture yourself as one of 6 remaining players at the $5M Guaranteed WPT Prime Championship with big money and a title on the line. How do you play your 30 Big Blind stack against a call from a tough chip leader with two short stacks in play?

222-Hand Ranges

Payouts: 1st = 20%, 2nd = 14%, 3rd = 9%, 4th = 6.7%, 5th = 5%, 6th = 4%

Play hands from a Final Table pack from the WPT GTO Trainer to see firsthand how preflop ranges affect your decisions at the final table.

Here are some tips when practicing with the WPT GTO Trainer:

  • Your goal is to select the action for each individual hand that is as close to 0.00 EV as possible
  • EV Loss of 0.00 is the same action a GTO Player would take
  • 0.00 EV Loss means you broke even against a GTO Player
  • EV Loss Color Coding Hint:
    • Green = Near GTO Play
    • Orange = Take Caution
    • Red = Probable Leak in Your Game

Members can practice more hands from this scenario by playing the 30BB Button Open Vs 70BB Big Blind Call WPT GTO Trainer pack!

Not a Member? Join for just $5 your first month to play more WPT GTO Trainer scenarios like this.

Review Previous Poker Study Sessions Here!


A huge THANK YOU to every Student who’s joined us for the WPT World Championship Study Sessions.

You can rewatch any of the sessions right now by clicking the links below or on the Webinars Dashboard.

Study Session 1: Mental Game and Endurance
Study Session 2: Preflop Strategy
Study Session 3: Defense Strategy
Study Session 4: Postflop Considerations
Study Session 5: ICM, Bubble, and Satellite Strategy
Study Session 6: Exploits and Intuition

We’re in the home stretch now! Make sure to submit any questions or hands on trouble spots to Ask a Pro and we’ll get you ready to conquer Vegas.

Good luck and good playing,
-Team LearnWPT

Improve Your Game With Team LearnWPT

Whether you are brand-new to poker training or you’re an experienced student this is your chance to learn from world-class professional poker players in a friendly community using state of the art tools.


You must be a LearnWPT Member to access and join the WPT® World Championship Study Sessions and becoming a member is easy! Click the red JOIN NOW button to get started.

As a Member you'll immediately gain access to LearnWPT Training and WPT GTO Trainer packs, featuring 500+ Strategy Videos, Downloadable Tools (and more).

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