The 2020 Guide to PokerStars Spin and Go Poker
Table Of Contents
Since Spin and Go tournaments made their debut on the PokerStars poker software in 2014, an impressive number of casual players and recreational players took to the tables in the hope to turn lower stakes games into some of the biggest paydays in online poker.
If you are one of them, you know that winning big at Spin and Go tournaments isn't easy. Not only 2x multipliers are the most common result of the Spin & Go lottery, but also your usual Texas Holdem strategy might not be good enough to help you beat your opponents on spin and go games.
To increase your win rate and become a good Spin and Go player, you need to revisit the poker basics, adjust your range, and approach each poker hand from new angles.
You need to forget about your hand history as you know it, and learn to play Spin and Go games.
This is what you find on the PokerNews advanced strategy guide to playing Spin and Go games on PokerStars in 2020.
The best game strategy to win Spin and Go tournaments isn't necessarily the same that helps you do well in other poker games. Spin and Go strategies require a different approach to preflop strategy and a game plan you can develop only if you begin to get the ins and outs of the fast-paced lottery sit and go's.
Before we analyse together all the specificities that make Spin and Go tournament specials and we learn to play Spin and Go games together, let me give you one last word of warning.
This is not the average strategy article you find on most poker coaching and poker training sites.
Here on the 2020 Guide to PokerStars Spin and Go Poker, you don't waste precious time on a theoretical approach to Spin and Go tournaments. You get actionable poker tips to attack the games and turn the jackpot sit and go's into the most exciting (and rewarding) online poker games out there!
What is Spin and Go Poker?
Spin and Go's are a fast-paced version of "sit and go" tournaments that similarly have no set starting times, only requiring the needed players to register for the tournament to begin.
Spin and Go's are most commonly offered as three-player tournaments with "lottery"-style prize pools that have become an increasingly popular option for online poker players. Indeed, sometimes they are referred to as "Lottery Sit and Go's."
The format first appeared on Winamax in July 2013 under the name Expresso. Soon after came similar poker games on other platforms, including Twister on the iPoker network, Jackpot on Full Tilt, Twister Poker on TitanPoker, and the Spin & Go games on PokerStars.
Spin and Go's are an excellent example of the kind of innovative games that can be easily introduced in the online environment. Meanwhile, live poker can sometimes be restricted not only by physical limitations but also by whatever gaming regulation governs the operator.
The "lottery" aspect of the game comes in immediately after enough players have bought into the game for it to begin.
Rather than having the prize pool be determined by the buy-ins, in Spin and Go's the payouts are randomly determined.
Spin and Go's are typically "winner-take-all" tournaments with the payouts generally ranging from twice the buy-in to much higher amounts — even 1,000 or 10,000 times the buy-in. (Deal-making also usually is not allowed.)
This randomness adds some excitement for players at the start created by the prospect of enjoying what could be seen as a huge "overlay" in the event.
A typical feature of the Spin and Go poker format is a "turbo" or "hyper-turbo" structure.
In most cases levels last three minutes, players start with small starting stacks of 500 chips, with each blind level and antes going up very rapidly, ensuring a swift end to the tournament.
In some cases, the length of the levels is connected to the "prize pool multiplier." For instance, on PokerStars if the prize pool is 2x the buy-in, levels last two minutes. If it is from 3-5x the buy-in, levels are three minutes, 10-25x the buy-in four minutes, and 120+ the buy-in five minutes.
How to Play Spin and Go Tournaments
Most sites have sped-up versions of Spin and Go's, such as Winamax where they offer Expresso Nitro and PokerStars where the game is called Spin & Go Flash.
In both, players start with just 300 chips and play one-minute levels as in hyper turbos. That's why they're given names like spin and go flash tournaments — they are over in a flash.
You register for these tournaments much like you do any poker tournament on most poker sites.
Once in the lobby:
On PokerStars you find also pot-limit Omaha games and other variants like Spin & Go Flash (the flash games mentioned above) and Spin & Go Max.
This last one is a version featuring 3 to 8 players, a triple prize spin, and a hand countdown after which the game goes to "all-in mode").
You'll notice a variety of buy-in levels. On PokerStars, real money games start at $0.25 and go up to $500. You can see with each buy-in what the maximum prize pool could be, should you happen to get lucky.
The multiplier on these games goes up to 10,000x; thus, the biggest possible prize pool in a $0.25 game is $25,000, and so on. You can also choose to play a certain number of games at once. On PokerStars, the maximum is five.
Once you've chosen your buy-in level and the number of games you want to play, click "Play Now" and you will be immediately seated at a table.
Before the game starts, the prize pool will be determined by the randomizer, which on PokerStars is shown as a slot machine-like spin of numbers.
Then you're dealt your first two hole cards, and the game begins. In other words, first you "spin"... then you "go"!
How Much Can You Win?
The "lottery" aspect of Spin and Go's means sometimes players do "win the lottery," so to speak, and enjoy enormous winnings.
Special promotions by sites have made it possible for players to win even more than is usually possible in these games. For instance, in December 2019 a player on PokerStars won $2 million in a $5 buy-in, limited edition "Jackpot Spin & Go."
Payouts and probabilities change with the stakes in Spin and Go's. Not only do the higher buy-ins yield bigger prizes, the probabilities slightly vary as well.
Also, when it comes to spin and go rake at the higher buy-ins, the rake is usually less than at the lower buy-ins.
To keep things relatively simple and to give you an idea of how the payouts work, let's look at the current prizes and probabilities for the lower stakes Spin & Go's on PokerStars.
|Prize Pool Multiplier||$0.25 First-Place Prize||$1 First-Place Prize||$2 First-Place Prize||Frequency|
|12,000||$2,500||$10,000||$20,000||1 in 1,000,000|
|240||$50||$200||$400||30 in 1,000,000|
|120||$25||$100||$200||75 in 1,000,000|
|25||$6.25||$25||$50||1,000 in 1,000,000|
|10||$2.50||$10||$20||5,000 in 1,000,000|
|5||$1.25||$5||$10||85,000 in 1,000,000|
|3||$0.75||$3||$6||414,012 in 1,000,000|
|2||$0.50||$2||$4||494,882 in 1,000,000|
As you can see, close to half the time (almost 49.5%) you sit down to play in a Spin & Go, you'll be playing for twice your buy-in. And nearly as often (41.4%) you'll be playing for three times the buy-in.
In other words, most of the time the winners won't be enjoying "overlays" or prizes exceeding the amount of money coming from players' buy-ins.
Meanwhile, a little more than 9.1% of the time the prize pool multiplier will be 5x or higher, meaning the prize pool will be bigger than the buy-ins.
Also worth noting — as in most other tournaments, there's a rake taken as well. At these lowest buy-ins on PokerStars the rake is 8%, and it decreases to 5% at the highest.
Are Spin and Go's Profitable?
Spin and Go's are winner-take-all, so of the three players only one is going to come away with a profit. But thanks to the randomized prize pools that profit can sometimes be huge.
Spin and Go's have been around long enough for there to be expert players who specialize in the format, which in and of itself proves they can be profitable.
It is also a game type that attracts a high percentage of novice and recreational players, meaning even just some additional study of structures and strategies can give you an edge that can translate into profits.
Many people enjoy the adrenaline rush of games with rapid outcomes — the gambling industry thrives on that desire — and Spin and Go's certainly satisfy that craving among the poker-playing segment of the population.
The "lottery" component of Spin and Go's also tends to attract players who play a "loose" or high-variance style, which also can be beneficial to more disciplined players who are better judges of basic poker strategy and how to manage risk-versus-reward. That, too, can make Spin and Go's profitable.
Some players point to how spin and go rake requirements are higher than what you typically encounter in a cash game or other tournament types, and therefore can cut into potential profits. Also, playing a bunch of spin and go's in a row for the minimum prize pool (2x) can be a little
Spin and Go Strategy: Tips to Win More
Winning Spin and Go players are often also versed in basic short-handed and heads-up tournament strategies where many of the same principles apply.
Having a good grasp of the poker hand rankings and the starting hand strengths is key as well since the fast structure generally means players become shallow-stacked relatively quickly.
Because of the fast structure, it is imperative to get involved and try to accumulate chips right away. There's also limited time to gather reads on your other two opponents, so pay attention from the start and recognize their tightness or looseness during the first two levels, as that will help you judge how best to play against them.
Three-handed play means the button acts first preflop, and often that means from the button you should be opening all above-average hands and many medium-strength ones as well.
And if the button folds to you in the small blind, you should similarly adopt an aggressive approach.
When you do open-raise, keep in mind the stack sizes start short and quickly get shorter. On PokerStars, for instance, players start with 25 big blinds — 500 chips at 10/20.
The blinds then increase to 15/30, 20/40, 30/60, 40/80, 50/100, and so on. That means early on min-raising from the button and making it a little more when opening from the small blind, but not raising too big to make it hard to manoeuvre post-flop.
That said, there comes the point relatively soon in Spin and Go's when you'll need to move into a push-fold strategy, particularly once the effective stacks have slipped to the 10 BB range or less.
For this, it will help to become familiar with the push-fold strategy — including charts that can guide your thinking when deciding whether or not to jam your stack.
"Just sit down and do your homework with regards to ranges," advises Nick Walsh of PokerStars Team Online who sometimes live streams Spin & Go's and discusses strategy. " Have some guidelines on the kinds of way you should be playing."
"It's little things like adjusting your preflop raise sizes and ranges. Adjusting how wide you're playing from all of the positions is huge," says Walsh. "You want to be playing loads of buttons heads-up and defending your blinds extremely wide, but in a controlled manner."
Walsh also recommends practising smart bankroll management when playing Spin and Go's. He suggests having at least 200 buy-ins per stake level, since "it's rare that people have swings deep enough to go broke with 200 buy-ins."
Spin and Go's can be great for those who want to play poker for just a few minutes here and there, or for those who enjoy faster-paced games in which the results come quickly.
And unlike other new online formats that only lasted a few months before being pulled, Spin and Go's have proven themselves to be appealing both to the casual player and the professional poker player.
Spin and Go F.A.Q.
What are the Spin and Go tournaments at PokerStars?
Spin and Go's are a type fast-paced sit-and-go tournaments available at PokerStars. These online poker tournaments feature a hyper-turbo structure, 500-chip starting stacks, and a randomized prize pool that can reach up to 12,000x the buy-in.
What is a 'lottery-style' poker tournament?
In these tournaments, the prize pool is not determined by the sum of the buy-in fees paid by the participants but is assigned, at random, by an algorithm.
What's the maximum you can win on a Spin and Go?
When the biggest multiplier applies, a Spin and Go tournament pays $1,000,000 in real money as the first prize.
Is PokerStars the only website with this kind of games?
No. While the Spin and Go games are exclusive to PokerStars, many other poker sites have similar types of hyper-turbo sit-and-go tournaments with a randomized prize pool.
How many players are in a Spin and Go game?
Spin and Go's are 3-max online events.
Are Spin and Go games profitable?
The multiplier that applies on the prize pool can make the Spin and Go games extremely profitable. This table shows how many chances you have to play for the maximum prize available.
What is the best strategy to win at Spin and Go games?
The best Spin and Go strategy depends on the size of your stack and the blind level.
Most professional poker players suggest to start with an aggressive strategy and try to rake as many chips as possible from the early stages.
In some specific moments of the game, it might be advisable to adopt a 'push-fold' strategy. For a more detailed description of the best strategy to adopt (and a few examples, too) check out these Spin and Go poker tips.
The Stars Group is a majority shareholder in iBus Media