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Old 10-16-2014, 10:50 AM   #582
PokerStars Baard
PokerStars Sit & Go and Tournament Manager
 
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Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Isle of Man
Posts: 461
Re: ** Official Spin and Go's Discussion Thread **

Hello all,

The Spin & Gos have been running for just over two weeks now, and have been very well received by the players in general. There have been some teething problems, but in general, we are very happy with how the launch went and how the new game has been received by the players.

I have been keeping an eye on this and other Spin & Go related threads in the forum, so it is time to respond to the issues that have been raised since the launch. I am not going to quote individual posts, but I made a list over the various comments I have seen you make, and will now go through this list, item by item.

Timing of the launch

It seems that some of you have been unhappy with the timing of the launch and some also feel that we should have given early notice about our plans to launch Spin & Gos. To this last point, I would like to refer to Steveís post in July where he announced that we were going to launch Spin & Gos on .com at some point in the not too distant future. He also laid out a some of the thinking that went into this decision. In addition, it was not a secret that we had launched Spin & Gos on .es, .it and .fr, so it should not have been a shock that .com and the shared liquidity licenses were waiting their turn as well.

As for the timing, I am sure that some players would have felt it was bad regardless of the time we eventually chose. As I see it, introducing this new game with three months remaining of the year should not prevent anyone from achieving their VPP goals. There are still a lot of games running, and if you have kept somewhat on pace, this launch is unlikely to prevent you from reaching your target. Of course, if you are far behind pace, you may see things a bit differently, but in that case you were vulnerable to any unforeseen event in your life.

Why have we argued against certain games on the grounds of marginal liquidity, and then launch Spin & Gos which evidently steal liquidity from other games.

What most players have in mind when asking along these lines is the non-deployment of 18-man hypers. It is true that we have not implemented that game because we were concerned that they might take away from the Turbo and Regular speed counterparts of the 18 and 27 player variety.

The difference, however, is that deploying the 18-man hypers would likely just move existing players from one tournament to another, while the Spin & Gos are bringing literally tens of thousands of new and previously inactive players to the site. Making changes that favour one set of players over another is not something that benefits poker in the long run.

Anyone who has followed the online poker market over the past few years will recognize the fact that it is more and more difficult to get new players to the tables. So when a new product comes along that captures the imagination of a wide range of players, it is not something that we can just pass on because we donít want to upset the regular players. If we had decided to stand pat with the current offering for the next couple years, chances are that soon your games would have been far more reg-filled and running less often than you will see now due to the addition of Spin & Gos.

Another aspect of this is that we cannot lose sight of the fact that we are a business and that we do business in a competitive environment. And as a business, we need to provide the products that are pleasing to our customers. Clearly given the popularity of Spin & Go, we have many customers who like the format, are pleased that we have offered it, and based on the overall volume of play on our site it is clear that players are overall happier than they were before. We do need to keep adapting to provide the games that our customers as a whole prefer. If we donít, someone else will.

In general, we spend our development resources on the features that have the most positive impact on the greatest number of players, and the development and launch of Spin & Gos is likely to reach the greatest number of players that we have seen in a very long time.

There is no transparency to show that the prize pool draw is really honest.

Aside from showing exactly how many tournaments are being played at all buy-ins, it is difficult to offer complete proof of the randomness of the draw. Because the numbers are business sensitive, we donít want the specific numbers to become public. It is important to bear in mind, however, that we are regulated by arguably the most serious and experienced online regulator in the world. They make sure that we comply 100% with the laws and regulations of this jurisdiction, and can at any time audit all sides of the business.

In addition to this, we can point to our track record, which is one of the main reasons why PokerStars have achieved the position as the undisputed market leader in online gaming. We have always tried to do right by our players, and we do not intend to stop that now. What I can tell you is that currently, we have been running a little bit over EV, but only by about 0.08%. I can also tell you that five days ago, we were running about the same under EV. We are certain that the draw is fair and reflects the reality that we present on the web site.

Deal making

I think it is safe to say that this is the topic that has been most discussed during Spin & Gos first couple of weeks on .com. Most regs seems to be in favor of having deal making available for at least the highest tiers, even though there are also regs who are against it.

We have not made a final decision on whether or not deal making will be allowed for Spin & Gos at all. Manual deal making with the assistance from support is definitely out of the question. The sheer numbers, even with only the top few paylevels supported, would be too much to handle. That leaves the automated deal tool, but it is not at this moment clear when that will be available on all of PokerStarsí platforms.

Rake

Understandably, a recurring topic in everything we do. As for the Spin & Gos on .com, we have chosen a rake level that is significantly lower than any of our competitors. I have seen claims that our Spin & Go rake is higher than for similar buy-in 6-max cash hypers. Here is a table that shows the current rake for 6max hypers and Spin & Go by buy-in:



We have reviewed rake for Spin & Go vs other similar format games offered at other sites including .com offerings and believe that our rake is overall lower than competitors by a substantial margin.

I have seen some posts questioning whether or not the rake is really what we say it is since the $1 buyin is basically $0.93 + $0.07 which gives a rake% of 7.53%. However, on the web site, the wording is Ď7% of the prize pool goes to rakeí which I think accurately describes what we are charging. We could probably discuss the best way to word this, but I donít think that it is possible to argue that we are misleading anyone.

As for discussing whether or not the rake we are charging is the correct one for this game, Iím afraid I have to disappoint you with the standard answer, which is that we donít discuss rake in the forums.

Availability of Spin & Gos in New Jersey

Unfortunately, I canít comment on which games will or will not be available in jurisdictions where we may have a license in the future.

Self-exclusion from Spin & Gos

This option is indeed available. Just contact support@pokerstars.com and say that you want to be excluded from Spin & Gos, and they will disable your ability to register for them. It will not affect any of your other games. Please note that you cannot exclude for a period of time. If you want to be able to play again after self-excluding, you will just have to write a new mail to support, asking for the exclusion to be removed.

Higher buyins

This is very possible to be deployed at some point, but there is not a fixed timeline on this.

Collusion

Collusion is against our TOS and anyone who participates in this risks being banned for life and their funds confiscated. We take it very seriously and have effective methods of uncovering collusion, and catch players regularly. Whenever this happens, we distribute the funds in the accounts back to the players who we deem to have been cause harm by the colluding players.

While I do see the benefit of two players colluding in a Spin & Go, I donít think it is a profitable endeavor for the players involved. First of all, you will are not going to meet your partner very often in a tournament with a high prize pool, and when you do, the considerable downside to being caught is really going to add un-welcomed variance to your poker career.

Most of the conversation about collusion is coming in the Heads-Up forum which is understandable as collusion is not a possibility in your main game. You might benefit from discussing with regulars of 6-max and other formats as to how collusion affects their multi-way games.

Spin & Gos are killing poker

As mentioned earlier in this post, poker is increasingly struggling to attract new players, and Spin & Gos serve exactly this purpose. I think it is much more likely that in a few years we are going to say that Spin & Gos saved online poker than Spin & Gos were responsible for killing the game.

Poker has never been about finding your niche and sticking with that for the duration of your career. If poker is your chosen profession, your adaption skills are going to be put to the test every so often, and Spin & Gos are just another thing you have to adapt to.

Influence on other Sit & Gos

In the first full week of Spin & Gos, we observed a reduction in the volume of Sit & Gos on the site. This reduction was surprisingly consistent among all games, game speeds and buyins of $60 and below. Hypers were not worse off than other game speeds, something that seems to indicate that all types of players are attracted to Spin & gos.

If we include Spin & Gos in the numbers, we find that we have a huge increase in the total number of players who are taking part in the games.

It is difficult to predict how this will look in the future, but we will obviously be keeping a close eyes on the traffic and be ready to adjust the Sit & Go offering accordingly.

Variance

Yes, there is no doubt that Spin & Gos is a game type with inherently high variance. I think it is also a fact that the reason for this variance is also what makes the game so popular among a big segment of our players.

I have seen posts suggesting a flatter payout structure, followed by an argument similar to Ďrecreational players are not going to care if the top prize is $30K or $10Kí. To this I can only tell you that all of our experience show that the bigger the payout, the greater the interest from the player base as a whole.

The frequency of the top payout is also important. We prominently list each large payout in the Spin & Go lobby. If the large payouts were to show up less frequently, there would be an impact on the desirability of the games.

Blind structure

The blind stricture is the same as for the regulated markets, and we feel that it is appropriate for this type of tournament. The average running time is around 5-6 minutes which is about what we aimed for before the launch.

Other Games / Betting Structures

We are not currently considering offering Spin & Gos for other games than No-Limit Holdíem. This can change, of course, but probably not in the near future.

Software issues

The launch has uncovered some bugs in the software, most of which have been in the mobile clients. We are making it a high priority to fix these bugs as we are being made aware of them, so hopefully most players will not be affected. If you do experience something that is likely to be a bug, I encourage you to contact support@pokerstars.com with a brief description of the problem and, it at all possible, an explanation on how to re-create the issue.

Seating algorithm

I will get back to you in the future regarding the seating algorithm.

Thanks,
Baard
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