The Mental Game of Spin & Go Max

Barry Carter looks at the features of this new format and why they might appeal to recreational players.

Spin Go Max

A few months ago I wrote a series explaining the psychological reasons why certain new online poker formats were enjoyable to recreational players like myself. I featured both Spin & Go from PokerStars and BLAST from 888poker.

With the launch of Spin & Go Max from PokerStars I get to do a hybrid of those two articles, because that is essentially what this new game is. You may or may not like this new game, but there is clearly plenty about it designed with the recreational player in mind, which is what I am delving into today. 

Spin & Go Max is a variable prize pool SNG, but with a lot more features. You play a random number of opponents, a random (small) number of hands, when the hands are complete it becomes an All In Shootout, then the winner randomly picks one of three possible prizes at the end. One or two players get paid depending on the prize, and when a big one is possible there is a cash out option.

Many games within the game

Spin Go Max

Before you even get to the action, this format ticks one box right away for recreational players. It has a number of meta games built in away from the poker which makes it exciting, even if you are losing. Random player numbers and random hands are a meta game, surviving to the All In Shootout is a meta game of sorts, as is picking your prize at the end. Finally, the option to cash out when the potential prize is big is a game, reminiscent of the show Deal No Deal.

The small number of hands certainly makes for a much looser game, but I’ve also observed players nitting it up towards the end, feeling like ‘making it’ to the end is a win in itself (which is obviously good news for everyone who realises that it really isn’t). The limited number of hands actually makes this a much faster version than traditional Spin & Go, even when there are eight players at the table. This is good news in general for players who want fast action, but the rake is pretty high for a small amount of hands.

Normal Spins are still King (for casual players)

Spin Go Max

The most interesting aspect has to be the way the final prize is awarded. You see at the start the three potential prizes on offer but it is only at the end of the tournament where you pick a face down card to discover what you have won. This does two fascinating things.

First of all, I think everyone plays super motivated by whatever the biggest potential prize is, even though there is a one in three chance of actually getting it. One of the most demotivating things about regular Spin & Go is the moment you realise you are just playing for a standard x2 prize pool, and this solves that, even though many of the prizes themselves are even lower than x2.

Secondly, at the end you are given the illusion of control when you pick your prize. There are countless studies in gambling and trading that show that even when the outcome of an arbitrary action is totally random, if we are the one who ‘pushes the button’ to find out that outcome, we feel we influenced it. When you pick the top prize, even though it’s a fluke, you get a chance to pat yourself on the back.

I actually really enjoyed playing Spin & Go Max, but I have a feeling it will only be a novelty game for one simple, but massively important, reason. It’s too complicated, it has way too many moving parts it reminds me of an infamous game on the show Friends (see below).

Recreational players love action but do not love being confused. They like Hold’em because it is simple to begin with, and regular Spin & Go is probably the most simple form of poker there is (but has the huge carrot of a potential million dollar prize dangling at all times). I suspect PokerStars realises this, hence (so far) having limited buy-ins.

It’s fun and I am always happy to see new formats being tried, but I still think regular Spin & Go is king for a recreational focussed game that grinders can enjoy, which markets itself.

What do you think of this new format? Let us know in the comments:

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Comments (3)

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  • Tiendeptrai


    I love spin and go or twister, it help me make a lot of money
  • k0kki3


    Who plays these newly invented pathetic rake money grabbers = mental
  • tonypmm


    It's better to be mental than broke :D

    The game is complicated indeed, and the graphics could have been made less heavy (my laptop can barely handle them), but all the complications are there for a purpose.

    Not all recs will love this game, but those who do are the cream of the crop of gamblers - they don't care all that much about losing to strong regs as long as they get a shot at a sizeable prize in every other game. This means that I'll be getting enough action for a long time.

    As for the buy-ins - the variance of the game is so high that I think there are too few players who'd dare to play $30s right now. And the game requires up to 8 people to run, not 3, so traffic is a bigger issue.

    I expect $30s to appear in the autumn, though, when the general traffic goes up seasonally.