A few years ago, the mobile poker boom resulted in an explosion of fast-forward cash games at online poker rooms. As successful as that endeavor has been, expediting the mobile experience for tournament players was a much more difficult task. Heads-up hyper-turbos were available, but the prize just wasn’t enticing enough. Enter stage right – the Lottery Sit n Go.
First introduced by French online poker operator Winamax, these ultra-fast, potentially high paying online poker tournaments are finally starting to catch on. Winamax entitled them Expresso SNGs, and three other online poker operators have followed suit. PokerStars calls them Spin & Go tournaments, Full Tilt named them Jackpot SNGs and iPoker has labeled them Twister SNGs. The names will soon become slim pickings, just as occurred in 2012 with the boom of fast-forward poker (Zoom, Rush, Speed, Zone, Blaze, etc., etc., etc.)
The concept of Lottery Sit n Go poker tournaments is fairly simple. Much like its cash-game counterpart, the games run extremely quick, which is exactly what most mobile users on the go are looking for. They involve just three players in a hyper-turbo SNG setting, with the prize being randomized – hence the generic term ‘lottery’. Only the winner of the SNG will earn a prize, which could be equal to at least twice the buy-in amount, or as much as 1,000x that amount, if not more. Imagine paying $10 to play a two-minute tournament and winning $10k? Such is the attraction to this latest online and mobile poker format.
The only thing that has held lottery SNGs back from mirroring the explosive popularity of fast-fold poker games is the exorbitant rake. When Winamax first introduced the Expresso SNG format, it came with a 7% rake, which is relatively high for the global online poker industry. However, being based in France, it’s excusable. After all, France imposes the highest recorded tax rate on iGaming. When the iPoker Network introduced its variation, the same 7% rake was invoked, much to the ire of other European players. Then when PokerStars unveiled its Spin & Go SNGs, the rake was hiked to a laughable 9%.
Due to the randomized payouts, the amount a winning player loses to poker rake contribution is difficult to determine beforehand. That fact has detracted from the game’s popularity in most European markets. Fortunately, one major competitor went the more reasonable route. Strangely enough, it was PokerStars’ own sister site. Full Tilt launched its version of ‘Jackpot’ lottery SNGs, reducing the rake to between 4% and 5%. As such, the game is likely to grab the attention of mobile poker enthusiasts much faster on Full Tilt.
Taking a look at the operators that have jumped aboard the quickened poker tournament revolution, the first thing one might notice is that none of these brands are available in any US online poker markets – Delaware, Nevada or New Jersey – at least not yet. PokerStars is expected to enter New Jersey’s iGaming market sometime in the near future, potentially bringing Lottery SNGs to US players for the first time. We can only hope that, when that time comes, PokerStars’ tournament directors have floated back down to earth in relation to their excessive rake rates.