Winning Poker Network

WPN’s Jackpot-Style SNG 2.0 Launches After Lengthy Delay

After several months of technical delays, the Winning Poker Network (WPN) has finally launched its “SNG 2.0” jackpot-hybrid tourneys.  The launch of the new format, in which both the number of players cashing and the amounts paid out increase according to the luck of tourney-preceding card draws by participating players, had originally been announced last fall.

However that much-ballyhooed launch date came and went… more than once.  Due to the unspecified delays, which likely involved a more-complex-than-anticipated integration of the format into WPN’s regular poker client, it was only on March 15th that WPN was able to go live with SNG 2.0 on its flagship site, America’s Cardroom.

So what exactly is this hybrid SNG 2.0 offering?  It’s a combination of a traditional turbo sit-‘n’-go, combined with a significant chance element.  WPN’s SNG 2.0 offering differs from most other sites’ and networks’ jackpot-tourney offerings in that the chance element here is participatory.  Rather than having the odds of an increased-payout tourney determined by a simple (and invisible) computerized chance, the players themselves have a role.

Before the start of each of the SNG 2.0 tournaments, each of the nine players selects a card from a 55-card-deck in turn, with the dek spread out at the center of the virtual player.  26 of the cards are green, 26 are red, and three gold cards — jokers, if you will — complete the deck. As long each player in turn selects either a green or gold card, the drawing process continues.  The green cards add both money and extra payout positions to that SNG’s pool, while the gold cards build eligibility toward a Mini, Medium, or Mega Jackpot.

Players who pick a gold card then have to pick a second time in the event all players avoid red on the first pass.  The ultimate goal is to have all nine players draw green cards before a single red card appears.  That can be done without activating the jackpot (when one or more of the gold cards is drawn, then successfully replaced with green), and it turns out that more often than not, even if all nine participants successfully draw a green card, it’s still likely to be a jackpot-free SNG, even if everyone gets paid something.

Those jackpot odds look something like this (calculations ours, based on spreadsheet info posted by WPN):

  • Odds of all nine players succssfully drawing a green card, with no gold cards showing — 1 in 2,035
  • Odds of the nine players drawing 8 green cards and 1 gold card, and that ninth player then replacing the gold card with a green one — 1 in 3,467
  • Odds that two (2) gold cards appear before all nine (9) green cards needed are successfully drawn (the golds could be drawn by two different players or by the same player, repeating a lucky draw) — 1 in 15,601
  • Odds that all three (3) gold cards appear before all nine (9) green cards needed are successfully drawn — 1 in 187,265

Those are long odds indeed for hitting the Mega Jackpot, if not exactly on the order of cashing in on a Powerball ticket.  So what’s the tradeoff, the inevitable catch?

As is usually the case, one has to rob Peter to pay Paul.  In traditional 9-player SNGs, three spots are paid.  But in these, if a red card is drawn before a green card appears, then the SNG pays only two spots, and for only 78% of the total payout for a regular-format SNG at the same stakes.  That unpaid prize money from all those first-card/red-card jackpot SNGs funds all the prizes awarded elsewhere, with what appears to be a little bit of extra rake left over for WPN and ACR once all things are factored in.

The Mega Jackpot, should it be hit, pays out 75% of the jackpot balance, distributed among all players at the lucky table according to order of finish.  The Medium Jackpot pays out 25%, and the Mini 10%.  The remaining amount in the jackpot balance is rolled over in all three instances.

Note that a slightly higher rake for jackpot-style SNGs as opposed to normal ones is industry standard, whether it seems “fair” or not.  Online poker players have shown a willingness to pay more rake to participate in this type of tournament, and there are always developmental and operational costs involved.  WPN has seeded the jackpot fund for SNG 2.0 with an initial $100,000, and that eventually comes from players’ entry fees as well.

As for participating in these, the only WPN room to offer SNG 2.0 right now is ACR, though other sites on the network may join at a future date.  The SNG 2.0 tourneys are offered at only five mid- to high-buy-in stakes (figures show “normal” prize pool contribution plus rake, even if it’s not precisely accurate to state it that way):

  • $5 + $0.50
  • $10 + $1
  • $25 + $2.50
  • $50 + $5
  • $100 + $9

The jackpot, however, is scaled to the $25 + $2.50 level, meaning that only the priciest three buy-in levels available get to play for the full listed jackpot amount.  The $5 + $0.50 and $10 + $1 jackpot tourneys instead get exactly that share of the larger jackpot that thier buy-ins represent.  For the $5 + $0.50 level that’s 20% ($5 / $25) and for the $10 + $1 level, it’s 40% ($10 / $25).

So far, the format appears warmly received by players, despite continuing technical glitches.  Some of the glitches appear to have been created through the creation of a special sub-lobby for the SNG 2.0 games, and the complexities of making it work within the larger WPN / ACR poker client.  Players have reported freeze-ups and crashes, though such reports have lessened in recent days.

Can WPN’s new SNG 2.0 carve itself a new market niche?  The format isn’t totally new but offers enough of a twist to be worth watching.  We’ll be doing it, as well the network’s competitors, who may well roll out something similar of their own if SNG 2.0 takes off.

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