PokerStars Introduces Micro Stakes Spin & Go’s in France and Spain
When Spin & Go tournaments were introduced on PokerStars.es, the Spain-only version of PokerStars, a little more than a year ago, they proved to be immensely popular from the outset. Because of the game’s success, Spin & Go’s were advanced from the Spanish test lab to PokerStars.com, the company’s flagship site. The popularity of the quick tourneys did not end there; they have become a sensation, stealing traffic away from cash games. There has always been a wide range of buy-ins from which to choose, but now PokerStars has added games with the extreme low-roller in mind. Starting with PokerStars.es and PokerStars.fr (France), PokerStars has rolled out €0.25 Spin & Go’s.
To review, Spin & Go tournaments are PokerStars version of the ever-popular Lottery Sit-and-Go. Each game is just three-handed, featuring hyper-turbo blind levels and tiny starting stacks of just 500 chips. They go by quickly, which is part of the appeal. Players don’t have to commit to long sessions. In and out in a few minutes.
The other aspect of Spin & Go’s that set them apart from regular single-table tournaments is that the prize pool is not known until all three players are registered, just before the game starts. Before the first hand, a prize pool is randomly chosen from one of several possibilities and displayed on the table. About three-quarters of the time, the prize pool will simply amount to twice the buy-in. The attraction for many players, though, is that the prize pool can end up to be thousands of times the buy-in, hence the “Lottery Sit-and-Go.”
Before now, PokerStars.fr had seven buy-in levels, ranging from €1 to €100, while PokerStars.es had six, from €1 to €50. Here is a look at the probability breakdown for the new €0.25 Spin & Go’s:
€3,000 prize pool – 4 out of 1,000,000
€300 prize pool – 20 out of 1,000,000
€50 prize pool – 30 out of 1,000,000
€25 prize pool – 100 out of 1,000,000
€6.25 prize pool – 440 out of 1,000,000
€2.50 prize pool – 8,000 out of 1,000,000
€1.50 prize pool – 79,752 out of 1,000,000
€1 prize pool – 139,590 out of 1,000,000
€0.50 prize pool – 772,064 out of 1,000,000
As you can see, the vast majority of the time – 99.2 percent – the prize pool will amount to €2.50 or less. The odds of playing for the top prizes are so small it really isn’t worth getting excited about.
For the prize pools up to €6.25, the game is winner-take-all. From €25 through €3,000, though, all three players win something, though the winner takes the lion’s share.
PokerStars.es has not published the prize breakdown on its website, nor is it actually presented in the software, even though the €0.25 games are live. While most of the payouts are likely identical with perhaps some slight variations in their probabilities, according to PokerNews.com, the top prize is only €1,200 right now.
Though Spin & Go tournaments have been insanely popular, they have received their fair share of criticism. Shortly after their launch on the dot com site last fall, a relatively small subset of players – those who make their living grinding and multi-tabling Sit-and-Go’s – protested the new game offering. Their initial concern was that Spin & Go’s were drawing tons of traffic away from regular Sit-and-Go’s, hurting both the availability and quality of games. In turn, grinders felt they themselves had to shift over to Spin & Go’s to play the volume required to earn a living. They generally hated this for a couple reasons: a) rake was too high for such a short game, and b) the structure of the tourneys led to high variance, something that makes them less reliable to grind.
There were also players who were trying to achieve Supernova Elite status on PokerStars. Many of them make big pushes at the end of the calendar year, so they were upset that their regular games were disrupted with only about two and a half months remaining the year.
Because of the winner-take-all format, Spin & Go’s were also seen as fertile ground for collusion, particularly amongst grinders who pooled their winnings.
PokerStars understood the concerns and addressed them individually, but in the end, PokerStars’ Ring Game Manager summed things up thusly:
Anyone who has followed the online poker market over the past few years will recognize the fact that it is more and more difficult to get new players to the tables. So when a new product comes along that captures the imagination of a wide range of players, it is not something that we can just pass on because we don’t want to upset the regular players. If we had decided to stand pat with the current offering for the next couple years, chances are that soon your games would have been far more reg-filled and running less often than you will see now due to the addition of Spin & Gos.
Another aspect of this is that we cannot lose sight of the fact that we are a business and that we do business in a competitive environment. And as a business, we need to provide the products that are pleasing to our customers. Clearly given the popularity of Spin & Go, we have many customers who like the format, are pleased that we have offered it, and based on the overall volume of play on our site it is clear that players are overall happier than they were before. We do need to keep adapting to provide the games that our customers as a whole prefer. If we don’t, someone else will.
The new micro stakes Spin & Go’s on PokerStars.fr and PokerStars.es are in trial periods right now – PokerStars.fr has said that its trial is scheduled to end September 30th – but if the experiment produces the results for which PokerStars is looking, expect them to become permanent fixtures and eventually spread to PokerStars.com.