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In 2014, PokerStars introduce Spin & Go tournaments, and the impact of these tournaments has changed the poker landscape. Spin & Go tournaments are three-handed hyper-turbo tournaments that award between 2x and 800x a players buy-in to the winner. Prize pools are randomly generated and most events are played “winner takes all.”

The lottery style of these events has made them extremely popular for recreational players. In fact, it is estimated that around 20% of PokerStars annual rake comes from Spin & Go events.

Below we will cover basic Spin & Go strategy and give you some basic tips to help you turn a profit at these games.

You Will Often Only Play For Double Your Buy-in

While Spin & Go’s hype prizes up to 800x your buy-in (sometimes more), you will often only be playing for double your buy-in. Approximately 70% of the first place prize pools in any Spin & Go level are 2x your buy-in. The .50 level has 73% of prize pools at 2x.

Rake is High But Fish Are Plentiful

For those that keep track of such things, the rake for PokerStars Spin & Go games is quite steep at between 5 and 7.5% depending on what you play. The lower you play, the higher the rake. The good news is that despite the higher rake, the number of recreational players (or fish) greatly outnumbers regular or pro players. This means that you still have a great chance to make money at Spin & Go tournaments.

Read More:

Five Tips to Help You Win More at Spin & Gos

A Poker Player’s Guide To Spin & Go Tournaments

No Time To Wait

Due to the structure of these event, you have absolutely no time to wait for big hands in these games. Below is a structure chart that shows how quickly these games become shove fests.

Level Blinds Level Length Relative BB (Starting Stack)
1 10/20 3 25
2 15/30 3 16.66
3 20/40 3 12.5
4 30/60 3 8.3
5 40/80 3 6.25
6 50/100 3 5
7 60/120 3 4.16
8 75/150 3 3.33
9 90/180 3 2.77
10 105/210 3 2.38

Starting at Level 3 at least, you are looking at all-in or fold poker on each and every hand. That’s why you need to develop a solid Spin & Go strategy. Fast reads and establishing your rhythm early in the game in order to have the best shot at winning.

Early Stage Play

During the first couple of stages, you need to establish a quick read on your opponents. Which players are not defending their blinds? Which are playing too passively or too aggressively?

In these stages, consider a min-raise or a 2.5x raise when opening the pot. Since your better players are going to want to conserve chips, this should be enough to pick up pots early on.

When you have a player that is overly aggressive, you will want to open shove with a wider range. Consider the range that you would use in a typical heads-up match and apply that against a hyper-aggressive player in this match.

Level 4 and Beyond

Once you get to around Level 4, your decisions should become more along the lines of shove or fold. Even if you have stacked one opponent, you still will only have 16.66 big blinds at level 4.

When short stacked, this is where your range really opens up. Any pair, ace or king is good to open shove with alone with any suited queen. Other hands include Q7o+, J7o+, T6s+, 95s+, and 85s+.

If you’re getting to see some cheap flops, don’t be afraid to turn on the aggression after the flop. Top pair, regardless of kicker, is going to be a strong holding. Also, when you pick up a draw, don’t be afraid to play it aggressive like in PLO.

Be Prepared for Crazy Variance

Regardless of your Spin & Go strategy, you will still experience some crazy variance in these games. The good news is that you only need to win about 36% of your games to see a long-term profit.

However, this does mean you should have an ample bankroll to play these games. Anywhere from 100 to 150 times your intended buy-in is a good rule of thumb for PokerStars Spin & Go tournaments.

Of course, some recommend that you have a bankroll as large as 600x your intended buy-in. This is based on your win percentage. If you find that your averaging a high ROI in these games, you will need a smaller bankroll to withstand variance.

Work on Building a Solid Strategy Rather than Jackpot Chasing

The reason why Spin & Go tournaments are profitable for regulars is that most players chase the jackpot rather than treat them as a viable tournament option. If you want to make money at these games, focus on winning more events and worry less about hitting the top jackpot prize.

Granted, there will be times where you will compete for the higher prizes and with a little luck, you will add some padding to your bankroll. However, if you develop a solid Spin & Go strategy that focuses on long term ROI, the jackpot prize will be gravy rather than a bankroll saver.


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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.