11-10-05 [poker]In terms of juice/vig, satellites in general are a bad investment. For example, a one-table 10-player satellite might charge $11+1 , and the winner gets a seat in a $100+10 tournament. So, to get a $100 valued seat, $120 was paid to the house instead of the usual $110. So, satellites are great for the house, but if you're a good player, that may not matter to you, since any time you play you make money. By playing the satellite, the house takes an extra 5% juice, but your return by playing is perhaps 50%, so you're making 45% instead of 50%.
"Steps" tournaments are even worse than satellites, because each step of the way they take juice. This waters down the prize money dramatically. For example, Step 1 might be a 20 player event at $11+1, and the top 4 places provide entry to step two, which is $50+5, so $240 has become $200 in prizes, and what's worse that's watered down again and again at each level. In a 5-step event, that original $240 becomes just $150 in prize money - near 50% juice which is pretty horrific.
This is actually one of the advantages of playing big multi-tables over a series of smaller tournaments. For example, if you play a "shootout" tournament, you put in $10+1 to play a series of single-table eliminations. At each step, there's no more vig taken, it was all in that $1. Compare to if you just play a normal $10+1, then if you place you take part of the prize and play another $10+1, etc. - at each step more juice is taken. You can think of a regular large multi-table the same way. As you advance it's sort of like getting into a higher-buyin event, but you aren't paying more juice, which you would if you just played a series of smaller events.