Poker is not gambling - a petition against Spin&Go tournaments

 photo masuronike: Father, 6max hyper turbo grinder and founder of TiltBook, end of story. My nickname on PokerStars is MASUR0N1KE.
PokerStars, so far the only online poker network that has always taken the best care of their players and has always been for the motion that poker is a sport, added a new format to its selection towards the end of the last month – the Spin&Go tournaments. These tournaments actually represent a great deal of danger for poker as a skill game which lead me to creating a petition against Spin&Gos and for eliminating the potential gambling aspect of the game.

In order to see the problem with the format and the reasons that lead to the petition you are reading at the moment, lets take a closer look at what Spin&Gos actually are:

The format consists of 3-handed Sit&Go tournaments with a 500 starting stack (25bbs), 3-minute blind levels and a winner-takes-all payout structure – so far nothing to be worried about and everything would be ok if the winner was to win 3 times the buy-in. The problem lies within the brand new way of deciding the actual prize pool, which is done by randomly „spinning a wheel“ at the very beginning of each tournament, with the prize money possibilities ranging from 2 to 1,200 buy-ins. I guess that in the near future we will also be spinning a roulette to figure out the starting stacks or playing mixed games with Blackjack being one of them.


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. To see what this means, lets make some calculations of how a really good player will end up if, despite crushing the game with 36% of ITM finishes at $30 stakes, will be unlucky enough to not win any of those 30 particular sit & gos:

Statistically speaking, on a 100k sample you’ll play:

72902 sngs with a $60 prize pool = $1,574,683

18015 sngs with a $120 prize pool = $778,248

8002 sngs with a $180 prize pool = $518,529

1001 sngs with a $300  prize pool = $108,108

80 sngs with a $750 prize pool = $21,600

Which means that after 100,000 games with a 36% ITM finishes at $30 stakes your profit, without hitting or winning any of the 30 jackpot tournaments, will be exactly $1,168. In other words, all the profit will be decided in those measly 30 sit & gos, that you should be able to play over a 100k sample (about a year of playing even for the more active grinders, much more than that for average grinders and a lifetime for casual and recreational players).

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.

One of the main reasons why PokerStars has always been so successful and much better poker operator than others was that its competitors always did all they could to connect poker with gambling as much as possible by offering casino games, segregating winning players from losing players, having a ridiculous rake and doing all the steps for winning players to not make it worth their stay at that given poker room. Unfortunately, I am now forced to say that PokerStars made a crucial step towards exactly that path and the speculations of actual casino games appearing on the platfrom next year make that pretty clear.

The only form of petition that could possibly catch the attention of PokerStars is to send an e-mail to support@pokerstars.com and demand a removal of these games from the site's lobby. Feel free to use ours:

Dear PokerStars,

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.

There is also a quite a large group of players out there who do like the general idea of Spin&Gos except for the extreme prize pool distribution caused by the highest multipliers - the problem that could be easily dealt with by decreasing the maximum multiplier to, lets say, 100x. If you feel you belong to this group of players, please use this e-mail (or feel free to write up your own) and send it, again, to support@pokerstars.com

Dear PokerStars,

I would like to let you know that while I find the newly introduced SpinNGo format very exciting and enjoyable, the current range of possible prize pools makes the game extremely luck based which is discouraging me from playing it.  Me along as well as many of my fellow players agree that we would be much more interested in playing SpinNGos if the prize pool varied less with the maximum of 100x multiplier, as the current situation makes the potential income from SpinNGos extremely unstable.

We would also appreciate if you could throw in your opinion on the whole thing to our official Spin&Go group on TiltBook which a bunch of SNs and SuperNova Elites are already contributing to.

Even though I admit that our chances are pretty slim, I think it is our duty to do the very least we can in order to let PokerStars now how we feel about the format and the whole motion of poker becoming just another form of gambling in the near future. And so I would also like to kindly ask you to send this out to as many poker players as possible, thank you!


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