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Only days following its sister site Full Tilt’s decision to remove high stakes games, Amaya Group’s online poker behemoth PokerStars has upped the maximum buy-in of its popular Spin & Go tournaments to $100. The increased buy-in will mean top-tier winners will take home $300,000 (if they are lucky enough to hit the 1-in-100,000 multiplier of 3600x during a spin) for a victory in the three-handed mini events, while second and third place finishers in those tournaments will pocket $30,000 each.

With this change, the PokerStars Spin & Go lobby now offers seven different buy-ins for Spin & Gos: $1, $3, $7, $15, $30, $60, and $100.

Another Blow to Online Poker Cash Games?

High-traffic online poker sites appear to be placing less priority on traditional cash game play, where many in the industry feel the casual player pool has been decimated by pros for years. An October 2014 report by PokerScout showed that Spin & Gos had effectively reduced Stars’ cash game traffic by 9 percent in only their first week on existence. Subsequent statistics point to an even further decline in an online poker format that remains dominated by top players who routinely outplay “fish” relatively quickly.

The lottery-style three handed Spin & Go events are extremely popular among PokerStars players. Although the vast majority of the tournaments feature a “winner take all” format in which the victor is awarded 2x-to-25x the original entry fee, there is a 16/100,000 chance that the pre-tournament “spin” will award 120x240x, or even 3600x the entry amount. In these rare cases, the winner receives five-sixths of the cash pool while the other two competitors divide the other sixth equally.

PokerStars occasionally runs special Spin & Go promotions such as PokerStars Makes Millionaires, These offers increase top-tier payouts even more and guarantee that low stakes players have a shot at taking home a $1,000,000 cash prize.

Are Spin & Gos Beatable in the Long Term?

Given the long-shot element of lottery style tournaments, it is widely believed by many professional online poker players that Spin & Go tournaments are a “crapshoot” at their core while presenting players with no realistic opportunity to profit on a long term basis.

However, TwoPlusTwo forum member “bighusla” was able to achieve an 8 percent Return on Investment (ROI) over the course of 10,000 Spin & Gos earlier this year. The feat was accomplished during January and February of this year at the $30 buy-in level — which at the time was the highest entry available for PokerStars Spin & Gos. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the completed challenge was that “bighusla” never competed in a top-tier event in those 10,000 games — earning a maximum of only 25x the original entry.

Professional and “regular” online poker players on PokerStars, many of whom have contributed vast amounts of rake to the site over the course of roughly a decade, have been critical of changes in rake and formats since Amaya Group took over operations last year.

We welcome your feedback on PokerStars Spin & Gos as well as other changes that have taken place on the site since August 2014.

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David Huber

David Huber has been involved in the poker industry for more than a decade: initially as a professional online poker player and later as an editor, consultant, writer, and forum manager. Known as "dhubermex" online, David's poker-related work has been heavily published across numerous websites since 2004.