When PokerStars first launched its new hyper-speed, lottery-style SNG tournament format, called Spin & Go, there was a great deal of controversy surrounding the structure. It wasn’t certain whether they would be a hit, or the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. For one online poker player from Russia, known only by his moniker, “sss66666”, Spin & Go’s can only be defined as a phenomenal success.
The anonymous player, who has been described by some as a very casual, low-limit poker player, made history this week when he won the very first $1,000,000 prize in PokerStars’ Spin & Go tournaments. He took advantage of a promotion that began back in December where for $5, members of the online poker room can enter special Spin & Go events, promising a $1.2mm jackpot prize to be awarded in 3 out of every 10 million tournaments.
“Sss66666” and his two lucky opponents, “geldduvel” and “Nonko999”, just so happened to be seated at one of those tables. The Russian online poker player was able to outplay his adversaries, guaranteeing him the massive $1,000,000 prize. But unlike most Spin & Go tournaments, 1st place wasn’t the only rewarding position. Both “geldduvel” and “Nonko999” walked away with a hefty reward of $100,000 apiece.
The way the Spin & Go tournament promotion works is extremely unique. Instead of building a prize pool based on the entry fee and number of participants, each of the 3 players buys in for $5. Then, before the hyper-turbo SNG commences, a lottery wheel spins to reveal the prize the group will be playing for. In most cases, the prize will be 2x a single buy-in, awarded only to the 1st place finisher (i.e. $5 buy-in = $10 prize to the winner).
According to PokerStars, this minimum payout structure will occur 75.85694% of the time. However, the other 24.14306% of the time, the prize could range anywhere from 4x the buy-in ($20) up to 240,000x ($1.2mm). In the three highest payout tiers, all three participants will receive a prize, valued at a minimum of $500 to 1st, with $50 going to 2nd and 3rd.
The $1,000,000 ‘Spin. Go. Win a Million.’ promotion continues at PokerStars through the rest of January, and could possibly be extended beyond that point if its popularity continues to soar. A vast number of PokerStars’ recreational players have converted to the new hyper-turbo, lottery-style SNG format, and now that a genuine 7-figure prize has been awarded, it’s certainly likely that the Spin & Go tables will see another surge in activity over the coming weeks.
Not everyone is so keen on the idea of Spin & Go tournaments on PokerStars. Formulated by Rational Group’s previous owners and initiated by Amaya Gaming upon the acquisition of PokerStars last year, the new SNGs are seen as a vexation by most serious online poker grinders. These are the types of players who prefer to haunt the standard SNGs and cash game tables in search of easy prey. And as they’ve stated time and again on forums and social media, the presence of Spin & Go tournaments has resulted in a much smaller pool of fish to torment at PokerStars’ traditional tables.
In reality though, while avid players who grind out multiple tables to increase their ROI are a profitable commodity for operators, recreational players are the bread and butter of the online poker industry. Casual players have dwindled over the last few years as they often found themselves ripped apart by sharks who use skill, intellect and even software programs to gain an advantage over novitiates. But the introduction of Spin & Go tourneys and other features catering to less experienced players has brought them back in droves, and that’s a major positive for the continued well-being of the online poker industry as a whole.