A Poker Player's Guide To Spin & Go Tournaments

An informative look at lottery-style PokerStars Spin & Go events

In 2014, PokerStars introduced an innovative take on traditional Sit & Gos and named them Spin & Go tournaments. The highly addictive 3-handed mini events normally take less than 40 minutes to complete and offer online poker players a long-shot at winning up to 10,000 times the original buy-in.

This article is designed to assist new online poker players with understanding how PokerStars Spin & Go tournaments work, what their value is, and why they have become a mainstay on the world’s largest online poker site.

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Spin & Go Tournaments — What Are They?

PokerStars Spin & Go tournaments are basically 3-handed “Hyper Turbo” mini events that almost always award the entire prize pool to the eventual winner. Generally, when the site isn’t running any special Spin & Go promotions, the buy-ins to these events are $1, $3, $7, $15, $30, $60 and $100 — with anywhere between 5% to 7% going toward rake depending on the buy-in.

Each player in the 3-handed contest begins with 500 chips, with blinds beginning at 10/20 and rapidly increasing every three minutes until a winner is determined. Once action is underway, the tournaments play out like many other Hyper Turbo Sit & Gos.

However, the SPIN aspect of Spin & Gos is what make them so popular. Once three players have registered for a particular Spin & Go, they will be automatically seated at a table to await the “spin.” This is where the magic happens, and where players can instantly be guaranteed a significant payout despite not winning the tournament.

The SPIN decides whether players will be competing for 2x, 4x, 6x, 10x, 25x, 120x, 240x or 12,000x the original buy-in. In roughly three-quarters of all spins, the payout multiplier will halt on the 2x multiplier — meaning that the winner of the Spin & Go will only receive twice the original buy-in while the second and third place finishers will receive nothing. The same is true for all multipliers except the top three.

In the very rare case that the multiplier lands on one of the top three multipliers, the second and third place finishers will receive 10% of the first place prize — guaranteed — while the winner will be awarded 100x, 200x, or 10,000x the buy-in amount. Only 153 out of 1,000,000 SPINS land on one of the top three multipliers, and only 3 out of 1,000,000 payout 12,000x the tournament entry fee in the long run. This works out to approximately having only a 1.5 in 10,000 chance of the Spin hitting a payout that guarantees prizes to all three players.

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Spin & Go Tournaments — How To Play

Once the Spin & Go event has begun, it plays out like any other Hyper-speed Sit & Go. Regardless of what the Spin multiplier lands on, your objective is to WIN the tournament. This is because in roughly 9,998.5 in 10,000 cases, the first and second place finishers lose 100% of their buy-in and also because the winner receives the bulk of the money at the end of top-tier Spin & Gos.

There are a number of basic strategies that can be employed to maximize potential, but they all depend on a player’s skill level at certain aspects of tournament play. Despite the Hyper Turbo format, post-flop play can be vitally important in the long run since there are so few chips in play and one must seek to extract value in every scenario possible.

However, a Spin & Go player should always be aware of chip stack sizes, jumps in blind levels and position in order to get the most out of any Spin & Go event.

The debate over whether PokerStars Spin & Go tournaments are beatable in the long-term has heated up recently due to changes in the multiplier structure that the site enacted in late 2015. At this time, there is no conclusive data to show whether a player of any skill level can be a true long-term winner in these games.

Spin & Go Tournaments — How Much Can You Win?

Since these are lottery-style tournaments, players will need to depend on luck (of the Spin) rather than skill in order to receive a significant payout, but the rewards are HUGE for the 12,000x buy-in multiplier.

Even if you are consistently playing in $1 Spin & Go tournaments, hitting the 12,000x multiplier and eventually winning the event will pay out a massive $10,000 (with second and third place finishers receiving $1,000 each).

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When it comes to the maximum Spin & Go tournament buy-in of $100 — the winner of a 12,000x multiplier event will receive $1 million dollars (with second and third place finishers taking home $100,000 each).

How likely is this scenario to play out? The 12,000x buy-in multiplier hits a total of 3 in 1,000,000 times in the long-term, but it still happens on a regular basis given the amount of poker players who enjoy this highly addictive 3-handed format.

Spin & Go Tournaments — Why Are They Popular?

The obvious attraction of PokerStars Spin & Gos is that if a player is very lucky, he or she can immediately boost a bankroll by 10,000 times the original buy-in. But there are other aspects of these special events that make them so popular.

For one, they almost always start within less than 30 seconds after a player registers, especially in the lower buy-ins. The action is extremely fast paced (even more so if you are playing more than one table at a time).

Since the events require very little time investment, online poker players can plan other commitments around Spin & Go tournaments much easier than they could if they were playing traditional MTTs. Spin & Gos are a great way to sign onto PokerStars and get a lot of action within a very short period of time.

On top of this, hitting one of the top three multipliers can be a huge rush! Even though this doesn’t happen often, being guaranteed to exit with a minimum of 10% the top prize can prompt players to continue enjoying this format.

It is also a great feeling when you take down a 25x multiplier (1 in every 1,000 Spins), as it is a large sum to receive for playing 3-handed poker for less than an hour.This multiplier may not guarantee a prize to all players in the Spin & Go, but if you play enough of these, you’ll eventually run into a situation where you have a shot at securing this payout.

All of these points factor in to the popularity of Spin & Go tournaments, but it’s still the 10,000x buy-in potential payout that keeps PokerStars players registering for more and more events. They run 24/7 and tend to have a weaker skill-based player pool (especially at the low buy-in levels) than their cash game or event traditional Sit & Go counterparts.

Will You Be The Next Spin & Go Millionaire?

Now that you know how to play and what to expect from PokerStars Spin & Go tournaments, why not try your luck at becoming the next Spin & Go Millionaire? This is usually only possible by participating in the maximum $100 buy-in events, but PokerStars is great about running promotions periodically which can guarantee a seven-figure payout to players who compete in the lower stakes events.

Try your luck at lottery-style events and perhaps you will take down a top-tier multiplier Spin & Go!