PokerStars has taken a leaf out of the Noel Edmonds playbook by creating a new derivative of the uber successful Spin & Go game, sucking some of the suspension from Deal or No Deal.
PokerStars continues attracting recreational players like the Pitcher Plant attracts flies, this time taking a knife to the guts of the uber-successful Spin & Go.
The largest online poker room this side of the Barista standing in front of me with an eye grabbing hole in her pants launched Spin & Go in 2014, borrowing the idea from Winamax’s Expresso Poker. Earlier this year, Stars created an Omaha version, but apart from that, the fundamentals of the game have remained untouched.
All that has changed this week, after PokerStars launched Spin & Go Max calling it an industry first.
The quintet of changes are thus:
1. Player Spinner
The participating players range between three and eight. A spinner selects the number at random at the start of the game.
2. Triple Prize Spinner
Before the virtual dealer dishes out a single card, the players see three potential prizes. The winner gets to choose one. All three are face down.
3. Hand Countdown
Games will end quicker. There will be a set number of hands per game based on the size of the prizes, and number of players. When the hand counter reaches zero, the remaining players are forced to move all-in.
4. All-in Finale
5. Risk or Reward
If one of the prizes is likely to give you an erection, PokerStars will offer the winner a guaranteed cash out option, instead of taking the one in three chance of landing the monster.
Three things immediately spring to mind.
The first is the similarity to the hit TV show Deal or No Deal. The UK TV show, hosted by Noel Edmonds, ran for 13 seasons over an 11 year period. The game consisted of 22 red boxes each containing a cash prize ranging from 1p to £250,000.
In Spin & Go Max, players choose one of three different prizes, similar to the red box way of doing things. The other similarity is the offer of a guaranteed cash pay out when one of the prizes is on the larger end of the spectrum. A similar thing happens when the Deal or No Deal Banker offers a player a deal when there are only a few boxes left with big prizes still up for grabs.
My other observation is the similarity between Spin & Go Max, and 888Poker’s BLAST Sit n Go games. 888Poker use a timer to reach the all-in car crash finale, whereas PokerStars are focusing on a particular number of hands, but the ending is still the same.
Lastly, as much as I love these innovations, I can’t help but feel sorry for the Australian Online Poker Alliance (AOPA), who are trying desperately to prove to politicians that online poker is a game of skill.
At the recent, last ditch inquiry, AOPA leaned on the expertise of Dr Sally Gainsbury. The psychologist, and gambling addiction expert told the panel that the risk of online poker being the gateway drug to a screwed up addiction is small. However, mobile variants and faster-paced variants do exacerbate the problem.
We aren’t talking £100 per spin, every 20-seconds, Fixed Betting Odds Terminals (FOBTs) here – Spin & Go Max buy-ins are in the $1, $3, $7, and $15 range – but it’s a paradox that perspicacious politicians can hide behind when they need an additional out.
Spin & Go Max is available on COM, EU, UK, and BE, on the desktop and Android clients. RO and EE regions will have to wait a little longer, as will people who like to use the iOS client.