Spin & Go tournaments, along with the many other branded versions of lottery style sit-and-gos, have proven extremely popular in online poker.
These ultra-fast three-player tournaments offer players the chance to be randomly assigned a prize pool for the winner: usually just double their buy-in, but sometimes as much as hundreds or even thousands of times more.
That’s a lot of fun for recreational players, but regulars who play for a living have been far more skeptical.
When PokerStars first introduced Spin & Go tournaments last year, many players were upset, believing that these new games were sucking other tournaments (like hyper-turbo events) dry.
These regulars could have just followed the masses, but they believed that the super-fast format and rake levels made it impossible to beat these games, making them a raw deal for the professional player.
However, it appears as though one high-stakes sit-and-go player has proven this theory wrong, at least to a certain extent. Two Plus Two user “bighusla” started 2014 by taking a prop bet speculating that he could definitively beat $30 Spin & Go tournaments for the month of January.
He found plenty of action from other players willing to bet against him at 3.5-1 odds, but when the month ended, it was bighusla who had the last laugh, coming out ahead of his target to win his bets, not to mention $11,000 from the tournaments themselves.
In order to win the bet, bighusla was required to show a chip EV (cEV) return on investment of at least 8 percent. This was likely chosen as the metric in order to ensure variance didn’t play a role in the results; there was no way to ensure he wouldn’t run into (and win) one of the super-rare Spin & Go games awarding 3,000 times the buy-in, or alternately, that he wouldn’t “run bad” and not see enough high prize pool events over the course of his planned 10,000 tournaments.
This essentially meant that he would have to win 37.9 percent or more of the three-handed games.
Due to delays, the challenge was changed slightly: bighusla only had to play 5,000 games, but would need a cEV of over 8.5 percent. In the end, he came out a little ahead of that target: managing 8.8 percent cEV over more than 5,000 games. The result was surprising to many in the thread where the challenge was initiated, as few thought skill could give a player that large an edge in the Spin & Go format.
But bighusla himself said he found the games to offer plenty of spots where he could gain an advantage on his opposition.
“Spins are a much deeper game then [hyper-turbo heads-up sit-and-go tournaments] imo, because of all the unique and complex situations,” he wrote after completing the challenge. “There are really a ton of dynamics to consider at all times from all positions.”
That said, Spin & Go tournaments still probably aren’t the best way to plan to make a living. Since bighusla typically plays (and makes a profit) in $300 heads-up hyper-turbo sit and gos, even most regulars would likely struggle to replicate his results. Still, many on the forum found his results to be inspirational.
“Going to be hard for people to claim these games aren’t beatable for a while,” wrote Nefirmative.