PokerStars Spin & Go tournaments, a sit-and-go tournament format that uses lottery elements that have previously appeared on other poker sites, have quickly proven popular among poker players. But some players are crying foul, saying that the tournaments are killing cash games and have far too much chance to be placed alongside other poker products.
Meanwhile, PokerStars officials have responded, saying that the games are a critical way to attract new players to the site.
The Spin & Go format is a three-man “hyper-turbo” format, in which the winner takes the entire prize pool. However, players enter the tournament not knowing what that prize pool will be. A little over 75 percent of the time, the winner will only take home double the entry fee. However, much larger prizes are possible, and in four out of every 100,000 tournaments, a winner will earn 1,000 times their buy-in.
One player, who goes by the screen name “masuronike,” created a post on his blog TiltBook, saying that the introduction of Spin & Go tournaments was one of the first mistakes he could remember PokerStars ever making. His concern, which was then echoed by other players, was that the combination of the extreme rarity of the highest-paying prize pools and the tournament format, which was winner-takes-all without any antes, makes these tournaments almost unbeatable even for strong players, while taking many casual players away from other forms of SNGs.
“I get the point there and I agree,” wrote twoplustwo.com poster Scarmaker, “no one doubts that Spin & Gos are in the long run as or maybe even more profitable than any other format — the problem lies within the fact that in Spin & Gos you could easily be unbelievably more off the expected winrate than in any other previous poker format, can’t imagine playing those for a living.”
That sentiment led masuronike to say he would create a petition at TiltBook in an attempt to get PokerStars to eliminate the new lottery tournaments. But while many players said they would gladly sign such a document, others were more skeptical that PokerStars would (or even should) eliminate the games.
It didn’t take long before one very prominent member of the poker community weighed in on the subject. Poker legend Daniel Negreanu took to the twoplustwo thread to voice his opinion, which came down squarely against the professional grinders complaining about the new format.
“Do you know what kills games and destroys the poker ecosystem above and beyond all the things mentioned? Winning players,” Negreanu wrote. “If Spin N’ Go’s deterred pros from playing, that actually HELPS the poker ecosystem immensely, it just may not help YOU personally.”
PokerStars has since addressed some of the concerns of players who don’t like the games, but has reiterated that those are an important part of drawing more traffic to all games in their poker room.
“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,” said PokerStars.com Ring Game Manager Baard Dahl. “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.”
Dahl added that he believes that even if Spin & Go tournaments are taking players away from some other formats at the moment, they will lead to long-term growth in those same games.
“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,” he said.