PokerStars’ Spin & Go tournaments have awarded big prizes in the past, but Russian player “sss66666” captured a prize unlike anything ever awarded before in a lottery style tournament.
He was the lucky winner of the fist ever $1 Million Spin & Go tournament, a massive prize offered as part of a special promotion that began in December.
The huge prize pool was generated from a tournament with only a $5 buy-in.
Normally, that would be impossible: most Spin and Go tournaments award the winner twice their buy-in, while even the most lucrative and rarest prize pools offer 1,200 times the buy-in.
But starting in December, PokerStars promised that there would be a three in 10 million chance that any given Spin & Go tournament could generate a $1 million prize pool instead.
Nobody hit one of those randomly generated tournaments in December, so the promotion was continued through the end of January.
Finally, three lucky players found themselves hitting the jackpot this month, as sss66666 faced off against “geldduvel” from Belgium and “Nonko999” from Bulgaria for a shot at a $1 million prize.
Thankfully for the players involved, this wasn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. The two “losers” in the tournament were guaranteed to walk away with $100,000, still a potentially life-changing sum of money for just a $5 investment.
After Nonko999 went out in third place, sss66666 was able to secure his victory by beating geldduvel in heads-up play. On the final hand, sss66666’s A8 was about to beat out his opponent’s A5, taking down what will likely be the biggest pot of his life.
The Spin & Go promotion is just one of several ways in which PokerStars has been looking to generate bigger and more exciting prizes from their lottery tournaments.
In some segregated markets, including Italy, France and Spain, there is a “Spin & Go XL” promotion that has allowed players the opportunity to turn â‚¬10 ($11.75) into as much as â‚¬50,000 ($58,800).
Big prizes like these are certain to catch the attention of casual and recreational players around the world, many of whom dream of hitting just one big score to change their lives.
But for regular players, the introduction of Spin & Go tournaments has been much more controversial.
The Spin & Go tournament format inevitably creates extremely high variance and minimal opportunities for players to show their skill: the three-player, hyper-turbo format takes just minutes to play (sss66666 won his $1 million in under 14 minutes), and the random prize pools mean that players can get unlucky not only in their cards, but also in terms of what they’re playing for.
That has made these lottery-style games less popular among professionals even as they pick up steam among recreational players. Worse still, say some regulars, they are taking players away from the kinds of games that more serious competitors do play, making it harder for them to make a living.
Others, including Daniel Negreanu, have defended the games, saying they help draw new blood into poker, something that will benefit both site operators and regular players in the long run.