Supernova Elite Player Petitions PokerStars to Remove Spin & Go’s
When Spin & Go tournaments launched on PokerStars’ dot com site last Monday, after an initial run on PokerStars.es, it was a big deal. The increasingly popular Lottery Sit-and-Go game concept had already appeared on Winamax (where it originated last summer), the iPoker Network, and Full Tilt Poker, but making its way to PokerStars, by far the largest online poker room in the world, established the novelty game as something that is here to stay. Spin & Go’s have proven extremely popular so far, but not everybody is onboard.
To quickly review, Lottery Sit-and-Go’s are three-handed, hyper-turbo Sit-and-Go tourneys in which each player starts with just 500 chips. The winner takes the entire prize pool. The biggest difference between these and regular Sit-and-Go’s (aside from the super-fast format) is that the prize pool is not simply the sum of the three buy-ins. Instead, it can range from twice the buy-in to, in PokerStars’ case, one thousand times the buy-in, determined by a random draw. On top of that, the prize pool is not revealed until the start of the tourney. Hence, the “lottery” designation. On PokerStars, the prize pool will be twice the buy-in about three-quarters of the time. The highest multipliers will be hit only a handful of times out of 100,000 Spin & Go’s.
A relatively small group of players, as far as the entire player base goes, is upset that PokerStars introduced its version of the Lottery Sit-and-Go. These are the high-volume, typically higher-stakes professional grinders that make a living playing online poker, primarily on PokerStars. Their primary concern is that the “fish” have been migrating to Spin & Go tournaments, away from the games the pros play. Thus, the pros’ games of choice have become harder to beat because of a higher concentration of regulars. Additionally, some are unhappy that Spin & Go’s were introduced near the end of the calendar year, the time of year when pros are grinding towards Supernova or Supernova Elite status. According to these players, it may become harder to achieve these loyalty goals if their favorite games are less populated than before.
They are not wrong about players flocking to Spin & Go’s. Earlier this week, PokerScout.com reported that in the week that Spin & Go’s were introduced, PokerStars’ cash game traffic plummeted nine percent. While PokerScout doesn’t track tournament numbers, there is no doubt that Spin & Go’s have sucked players from other tournaments, as well.
The addition of Lottery Sit-and-Go’s to some poker rooms’ rosters is another move in the growing trend of appealing to the recreational player. Recreational, or casual, players are generally the types of players who play mainly for fun, who are willing to lose some money in the name of entertainment. They will lose, reload, and lose again. They inject cash into the poker economy and are thus the players poker rooms want. Pros generate a lot of rake, but they tend to pull money out of the poker economy because they are winning players. And because recreational players make up the vast majority of the poker population, poker rooms are catering to them more and more.
One pro grinder isn’t taking this sitting down. On Tiltbook.com, a Facebook-like social network for poker players, the site’s founder, “masuronike,” has urged players to sign and send a petition to PokerStars, protesting Spin & Go’s. In a detailed post on the site, he writes:
The fact that you can, theoretically, indeed win a thousand buy-ins in a span of minutes makes the format it extremely exciting and addictive for recreational players. That looks like a great thing at the first glance and should make the game potentially very profitable for regulars and skilled players. The reality is, though, that the actual profit of even the best and most skillful players will be affected by sheer luck by unbelievable larger margin than in any other poker format that was introduced before. The most of your winnings will be determined by how lucky you’ll be in hitting and, of course, winning the games with 100+ buy-ins. And the fun begins with the fact that in the long run, these are going to make up for only 30 out of each 100,000 tourneys played.
He goes on to do the math, calculating how much a very strong player would make who plays 100,000 $30 Spin & Go, finishing in the money (ITM) 36 percent of the time without hitting any of the top three prize pool tiers. Those three tiers are prize pools of $30,000, $6,000, and $3,000 and have a combined probability of 30 out of 100,000. By his calculations, given the ITM percentage, the prize pool probabilities, and with no prize pool over $750, this dominant player would profit only $1,168. As he says, “all the profit will be decided in those measly 30 sit & gos,” and for the most dedicated grinders, it would take a year to play 100,000 of these tournaments.
He is clearly upset that many casual players have moved, at least for now, away from the games he and other Supernovas or Supernova Elites have counted on to make their living. To further his argument, he adds:
Another issue is that this kind of format may ruin the whole ecosystem of online poker as it might be very compelling for a recreational player to play a game that potentially offers a $30,000 win just minutes after paying the $30 buy-in. Is the average casual player still going to be interested in playing any of the formats that last longer and offer lesser payouts? Or play cash games where even all the stacks combined might just make up only a small portion of the potential jackpot Spin&Gos can offer? Or MTTs that can last for hours and hours and again, may not even offer a prize as big? We can already see a 30 – 40% decrease of traffic of 6-max and HU HT sit & gos and I think we can expect a similar fate for other formats as well on all the stakes up to $30 as that is currently the highest Spin&Go level avalible.
“masuronike” goes on to say that PokerStars has always been the best poker room because it did not cater to recreational players like its competitors did and that the movement towards encouraging more “gambling” is disappointing.
His petition to PokerStars is brief, reading, “I would like to let you know that I am against the newly introduced SpinNGo format and I am asking for its removal along with many of my fellow players as the format has a huge gambling element a player has no way of affecting and also takes a big chunk of the ‘poker as a skill game’ motion from the play.”
He also gives a different option for players who like Spin & Go’s but are concerned with his the consequences he thinks they will have. For those players, he suggests sending a petition that recommends capping the max prize pool at 100 times the buy-in in order to flatten the prize distribution and make the games less appealing to big “fishy” gamblers.
“masuronike” admits the chances to make a difference with the petition are slim, but he is passionate about the subject and feels it is worth a shot.