Just The Ticket: Here Are The Online Poker Sites That Offer Lottery SNGs

Lottery Sit & Go’s: Where To Find Them, And Which Ones Offer The Best Value

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Often criticized and impossible to ignore, the lottery sit & go format continues to thrive despite the secular decline of the New Jersey online poker industry.

With the launch of Sit & Go Hero on PartyPoker in late March, nearly every major international operator sans 888 Poker at least dabbles in the casino/poker hybrid. Some, most notably market share leading PokerStars, have shifted a sizable chunk of their promotional focus to these high raked, low skill edge – yet fast paced and exciting – games.

Here’s a look at the most popular places to engage in the format.

PokerStars: Spin & Go

  • Buy-in levels: $0.25, $1, $3, $7, $15, $30, $60, $100
  • Rake: 8 percent at all buy-ins under $7, 7 percent at the $7 level, and 6 percent at the higher buy-ins
  • Top multiplier and jackpot: 12,000x, $1 million

The lowdown

When PokerStars first launched Spin & Go’s in September 2014, players flocked to the format in droves, so much so that according to Poker Industry Pro via PokerScout.com, cash game liquidity spiraled downward 11 percent in a week.

Since, the rake has been hiked twice, and today, PokerStars no longer offers the most competitive rake at the lowest buy-in levels (under $7). It does however, offer by far the biggest jackpots – a divide that grows even further when it hosts one of its many Spin & Go-focused promotions.

However, players are advised to read the fine print, as often times Spin & Go promotions do not increase the value of playing the format. Instead, PokerStars tends to lower the frequency of other good, but not top-tier, multipliers to compensate for the augmented top jackpot.

What this means is that anyone who doesn’t hit a jackpot during a promotion will, on average, pay a higher effective rake.

Otherwise, Spin & Go’s follow the mold set forth by format pioneer Winamax, in that they’re 3-man hyper turbos where the winner takes all, except when a big multiplier hits. In these cases, second and third place receive 10 percent of the jackpot each.

Spin & Go’s in New Jersey

PokerStars has been in New Jersey for less than a month, and already, it’s abundantly clear that the majority of its promotional spend will be directed toward getting players hooked on the format.

Already, the operator has hoisted the top prize of the $10 buy-in from $10,000 to $100,000. Additionally, a $25 buy-in level has been added, and on Monday, the site announced a $100,000 Spin & Go Challenge Freeroll promotion whereby:

  • Players who make their real-money first deposit will receive a ticket to a $100,000 freeroll, $40 in free credit and a $10 Spin & Go ticket.
  • Those who reload $30 or more can claim a $10 Spin & Go ticket.
  • Anyone who accumulates $20 in Spin & Go buy-ins from April 11 to April 23 will receive one $100,000 freeroll ticket (maximum three).

Suffice it to say, promotions this lucrative don’t come around often in capped liquidity markets.

PokerStars’ willingness to spend over $200,000 (there will be two freerolls) on one event gives an idea of the lengths it’s willing to go through to capitalize on its lottery SNG monopoly in New Jersey.

iPoker: Twister

  • Buy-in levels: €1, €2, €5, €10
  • Rake: 7 percent
  • Top multiplier and jackpot: 1,200x, €10,000

The lowdown

Despite being one of the earliest adapters of the lottery SNG format, iPoker (bet 365 Poker) hasn’t done much with it. Buy-ins and multipliers remain on the low side, and the network doesn’t do much in the way of targeted promotions.

The 7 percent rake is competitive, and at the €1, €2 level is lower than that found on PokerStars. Therefore, for new and budget players, Twister is a serviceable alternative to Spin & Go’s.

PartyPoker: Sit & Go Hero

  • Buy-in levels: $1, $3, $5, $10, $20
  • Rake: 7 percent at the $1 level, 6 percent at $3 and $5, 5 percent at $10 and $20
  • Top multiplier and jackpot: 10,000x, $120,000 + $50,000 bounty potential

The lowdown

PartyPoker is the first operator to launch a variation of the traditional lottery SNG format – probably a smart move considering that it’s one of the last major dot-com sites to market. Sit & Go Hero is a game changer on a couple of fronts:

  • The match is contested by four players, as opposed to three normally.
  • One player is randomly selected as the bounty at the beginning of the match. Twenty-five percent of the total prize pool is awarded to the player who wins the bounty.
  • Pays top three places at 50x, 100x, 1000x multipliers and all four places at 10,000x multiplier.
  • Lowest rake among lottery SNG variants.

In most other respects, Sit & Go Hero resembles other lottery SNGs, in that they’re hyper-turbos and the prize pools are randomly determined. The bounty aspect is an interesting twist, undoubtedly altering optimal strategy.

And because the high, but not top, multipliers only pay the top three, there are severe ICM implications in place when said matches are four handed. Players won’t find this dynamic elsewhere, as other sites either pay one winner or every player.

Admittedly, the longer average match duration may turn recreational players off. On the flip side, due to the increased skill edge and reduced rake, it won’t surprise if more serious-minded players flock to the format.

So far, cash game liquidity on PartyPoker has dropped just under 4 percent since Sit & Go Hero went live on March 31.

Winamax: Expresso

  • Buy-in levels: €1, €2, €5, €10, €25, €50, €100
  • Rake: 7 percent
  • Top multiplier and jackpot: 10,000x, €800,000

The lowdown

Despite being only available in the closed liquidity French market, Expresso gets special consideration because it was the first lottery SNG to launch.

Since rolling out Expresso in July 2013, Winamax has aggressively expanded its offering. Way back when, the top prize pool was €13,000 – today it’s €1 million.

The site also hosts a weekly leader board promotion that awards more than €35,000 spread out among the top 800 players across four buy-in tiers. Thus, top players will earn a considerable amount of rakeback. Combine this with the relatively competitive 7 percent rake, and Expresso isn’t the worst bang for the buck.

However, the multiplier distribution is heavily weighed toward the lower end – more so than on other sites – meaning that grinders will have to play an excessive amount of games to mitigate variance.

Also, at the higher multiplier levels, Winamax pays out 50 percent more for second than third, meaning that there is a slight ICM dynamic at play.

Other top 15 sites with a lottery SNG variant

  • PokerStars.it: Italian market only
  • PokerStars.es: Spanish market only
  • Winning: U.S.-facing
  • PokerStars.fr: French market only, rake on par with Expresso
  • Full Tilt
- Robert DellaFave is a game designer and avid poker player. He writes for several publications centered on legal US online poker and the regulated online gambling industries in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
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