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PokerStars Launches Spin & Go Tourneys on Dot Com Site

Last July, French poker site Winamax.fr hit it big with the introduction of a new poker tournament variation which it called Expresso Poker. Since then, other online poker rooms have added similar types of “Lottery Sit-and-Go’s” to their rosters of games and, for the most part, they have gone over like gangbusters. This past July, PokerStars jumped onboard, rolling out its version – the Spin & Go – to its Spain-only site, PokerStars.es, as a trial run. This week, PokerStars finally did what players had been waiting for: it launched Spin & Go tournaments on its main PokerStars.com site, just a tad earlier than the expected October launch.

Before we proceed, let’s review exactly what a Spin & Go is. Again, it falls into the class of the Lottery Sit & Go, and really does not differ in any significant way from any of the offerings of any other poker room. Spin & Go’s are three-handed hyper-turbo (three minutes per blind level) Sit-and-Go tournaments with buy-in levels of $1, $3, $7, $15, and $30 and starting stacks of only 500 chips. Simple enough, but the catch is that the prize pool is not revealed until the third and final player registers. At that time, a random prize draw occurs and a spinner appears on the table to announce what the prize pool will be. But while the prize pool is unknown until the start of the tournament, it could end up being as much as 1,000 times the prize pool, magnitudes larger than in a normal Sit-and-Go. From there, the short tournament proceeds as usual.   PokerStars Spin & Go

Typically, Lottery Sit-and-Go tournaments are winner-take-all, as frankly, with just three players, there is not enough money to pay more than one person. PokerStars has changed that a bit, adding an extra 20 percent to the prize pool when the Spin & Go draws one of the top three prize levels. That 20 percent is split evenly between the second and third place finishers; the winners still takes the entire first prize.

Speaking of prize levels, here is a breakdown of the possible prize pools and their corresponding probabilities:

$1 Spin & Go

2x buy-in – 77,380 out of 100,000
4x buy-in – 13,510 out of 100,000
6x buy-in – 8,000 out of 100,000
10x buy-in – 1,000 out of 100,000
25x buy-in – 80 out of 100,000
100x buy-in – 15 out of 100,000
200x buy-in – 10 out of 100,000
1,000x buy-in – 5 out of 100,000

$3 Spin & Go

2x buy-in – 74,380 out of 100,000
4x buy-in – 16,510 out of 100,000
6x buy-in – 8,000 out of 100,000
10x buy-in – 1,000 out of 100,000
25x buy-in – 80 out of 100,000
100x buy-in – 15 out of 100,000
200x buy-in – 10 out of 100,000
1,000x buy-in – 5 out of 100,000

$7, $15, and $30 Spin & Go

2x buy-in – 72,880 out of 100,000
4x buy-in – 18,010 out of 100,000
6x buy-in – 8,000 out of 100,000
10x buy-in – 1,000 out of 100,000
25x buy-in – 80 out of 100,000
100x buy-in – 15 out of 100,000
200x buy-in – 10 out of 100,000
1,000x buy-in – 5 out of 100,000

The probabilities for all prize levels except for the bottom two are the same across the board. When moving from the $1 Spin & Go’s to the $3 Spin & Go’s and then again to the $7 and above Spin & Go’s, the chances of having a prize pool of just double the buy-in is reduced, while the probability of a prize pool that is quadruple the buy-in is increased. Thus, the higher the buy-in, the better the chance for a slightly higher payday.

The rake also decreases the higher one plays. At $1, the rake is seven percent, at $3 it is five percent, and at $7 and up it is just four percent.

These games are clearly designed for the player who wants action with fewer opportunities to have to make difficult post-flop decisions. For PokerStars, it is a chance to grab rake quickly, as these games do not last very long at all.

As mentioned, the Lottery Sit-and-Go was introduced by Winamax as Expresso Poker, launched July 13th, 2013. It was so popular that according to PokerScout.com, cash-game traffic on the site dropped 15-20 percent as people moved over to Expresso Poker and did not recover for several weeks. The iPoker Network was the next onboard, launching Twister Poker in January of this year. Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars’ little brother, rolled out Jackpot Sit and Go’s in June, just before Spin & Go’s went live on PokerStars.es.

Full Tilt eschews the 25x buy-in prize pool level for a 20x, though at the top end, Full Tilt has 500x and 2,000x buy-in levels instead of PokerStars’ 200x and 1,000x. The probabilities are slightly different, as well. Additionally, like PokerStars, Full Tilt pays all three players at the top three prize levels, but unlike PokerStars, Full Tilt does not add prize money. Instead, the winner receives 75 percent of the prize pool, second place gets 15 percent, and third gets 10 percent.

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