Poker Life: How to Play Spin & Go’s
On Pokerstars they are called Spin & Go’s, on Party they are called Sit & Go Hero, on iPoker they are called Twister, but they are basically the same thing. They are all carbon copies of a tournament format invented by French poker operator Winamax a few years ago. It is a very fast and fun sit’n’go format for 3-4 players where the first prize varies.
The guaranteed first prize is small (usually around two thirds of the buy-ins) but occasionally the first prize is very big, even up to 1,000 the buy-in! It is a hybrid between poker and lottery, or poker and a casino game. You still have to win the sit’n’go to win the prize and I like this mix of skill and luck.
Say you have 10 minutes and $20 and want to have some poker fun. Then these sit’n’go’s are ideal and if you are lucky you could win $20,000 only beating two other players.
What is optimal strategy then? You are playing short-handed and will soon be short-stacked (starting stack can be as low as 25 big blinds) with a fast format so the answer is easy: you need to be aggressive and take chances. Going all-in on every hand is not a great strategy but not terrible either.
You should probably close to 50% of the hands when three-handed and you need to raise with a lot of hands, you also need to reraise with many hands, and you need to call all-in bets with many hands. No wonder these tournament’s have become popular!
Are they all really the same? Actually, Party Poker has tried to do something different. Instead of a 3-handed sit’n’go Party’s format is 4-handed and 25% of the prize pool is awarded as a bounty on a random player. The problem with this is that the first prize is only guaranteed to be 1.5 x buy-in plus 0.5 x buy-in as a bounty. That is not enough, I think. In an attempt to be different, they have actually created something much worse.
When I read my first poker book I remember that players were categorised in tight-aggressive, loose-aggressive, tight-passive and loose-passive. The standard advice is that you want to be tight-aggressive but as every reader of this column knows there is rarely a simple right or wrong in poker.
There are actually situations or game formats where all these four strategies are correct. In Spin & Go’s you definitely want to be loose-aggressive since the stacks are too short for a tight strategy.
But how about loose-passive? That cannot ever be right, or? Yes, in heads-up play against an overaggressive player that is a good strategy. Some people think that a loose-passive player is the same as a calling station but that is not the case.
I will write a separate column about this someday. Until then, good luck at the tables.