Our SNG offering has been in need of a refresh for a while now, so we have been speaking with our operators, digging into the data, and surveying players about potential changes for the past couple of months.
After reviewing all of the data, feedback, and survey responses, we’re planning to make a few changes which I’m detailing below. Most of the updates are planned for the 29th February. We are publishing our proposed changes now, so that you have a chance to comment on them and give us much needed feedback – please use the comments box below if you have anything, however small, to add.
Standardisation of Offering
We have a large variety of different tournament types on the MPN, which can be confusing, particularly for new players. In the past, it was far worse. A few years ago, tournament names meant little – register for a ‘Super Turbo’ tournament for example, and that tournament could have had 500 starting chips or 2,000, and blind levels that were 3 minutes long or 10 minutes long. There was very little consistency.
In 2014 we went through an exercise to standardise the scheduled tournament offering so that it was easier to understand. Now, if you play a Super Turbo scheduled tournament without a guarantee on the MPN, you know that you’ll get 500 starting chips, 3 minute levels and 18 seconds to act. If you play a guarantee tournament, you know you’ll get 50% more chips than a non-guaranteed tournament. And so on.
SNGs weren’t updated, and they are currently inconsistent with scheduled tournaments. We are changing them, so that they have the same set-up as scheduled tournaments. This means that if you play a ‘Super Turbo’ tournament, you will know what to expect whether it’s a Sit & Go or Scheduled Tournament.
- Regular and Turbo SNGs will now have 2,000 starting chips (was 1,500). Super Turbo SNGs will still have 500 starting chips.
- In Turbo tournaments:
- You will now have 18 seconds to act instead of 15
- You will get 30 seconds time bank instead of 15
- Levels will be 6 minutes long instead of 5
- In Super Turbo tournaments:
- You will now have 18 seconds to act instead of 15
- You will get 15 seconds time bank instead of 10
- Levels will be 3 minutes long instead of 2
In essence, each type of Sit & Go will now take slightly longer to play out. We believe that this represents better value for players and, combined with the better consistency across the network in general, will lead to a better player experience.
Double Up SNGs
I don’t like Double Up SNGs, and for good reasons.
First, and most importantly, Double Up SNGs appear deceptively simple. A new player might choose to play a Double Up SNG, thinking that it would be very easy for them to win. But in actual fact, new players have shorter lifetimes in Double Up SNGs than in any other kind of SNG. A brand new player actually lasts longer if they jump straight into Omaha Hi/Lo! This is not the kind of experience we want new players to have.
Correct strategy for Double Up SNGs can be very counter-intuitive. As in satellite tournaments, it is often correct to fold strong hands and avoid confrontation, especially on the bubble (this kind of strategy also makes Double Ups pretty boring). An understanding of ICM is crucial to long-term success. So for a while, we’ve been discouraging new players from playing Double Ups, with a message in the lobby explaining why.
The second reason is that Double Ups are particularly susceptible to collusion. We dedicate a lot of time and effort to preventing collusion and have developed some very powerful tools to prevent it, particularly over the last couple of years. But there will always be players that try to collude, and we will always have to put in effort to stop them and to properly compensate players who were affected.
There are two reasons that collusion is a particular problem in Double Ups. First, colluders have a bigger edge in Double Ups than most other formats. A single ‘stack balance’ (one colluder intentionally losing chips to a partner to keep them in the game), or a little bit of soft play, can be the difference between winning and losing. Second, proving that collusion actually occurred in a Double Up can be tricky, because the complex strategy that Double Ups require often looks similar to collusion. Reviewing suspected collusion in Double Ups therefore takes a lot longer than it does in other formats.
However much I dislike Double Ups personally, I also know that there are many players who enjoy playing them, so I am loathe to remove them entirely as some other poker providers have done. Instead, we will raise the fee on Double Ups. This ‘phase out pricing’ is intended to discourage Double Up play, particularly by new players (and potential colluders)! I also feel it’s reasonable that those who choose to play Double Ups should shoulder the burden of the extra policing required.
We will also reduce the number of Double Up formats available and introduce antes to the betting structure, to encourage more interesting play.
But don’t worry, it’s not all bad news – we will also be reducing the fees in many other types of SNG.
We currently charge a 10% fee on all types of SNG, even Heads-Up. This is amongst the highest in the industry and is a legacy of the past.
The MPN recently revised rake in cash games, and this has had the expected positive effect. So we are making similar changes to SNGs. For the most part, fees are decreasing, especially in faster formats like Turbo and Heads-Up. Fees do increase in a few areas, to pay for the reductions in others. Overall we feel that the new fee structure is a big improvement.
Trials and A/B Tests
We’re also going to give a few new SNG formats a try:
- We’re going to trial a limited selection of multi-table SNGs.
- We’re going to trial Super Bounty SNGs. In the Super Bounty format (which we already offer for scheduled tournaments) all of the prizes are bounties, so the only way to win is by eliminating opponents.
We’re also going to try a couple of crude A/B tests. If you’re not familiar with multi-variant testing, what this means is that we will offer two types of very similar SNG for a while. Then whichever is more successful, we will keep. If you prefer one type to another, the way to let us know is by playing that format!
- We will A/B test Super Turbo SNGs where the blinds go up every 3 minutes, VS Super Turbo SNGs where the blinds increase every 6 hands. I’ve seen feedback that stalling can be a problem in Super Turbos, and in the latter variant, stalling will have no impact whatsoever.
- We will A/B test Double Ups VS Survivor SNGs paying half the field. Survivor is a tournament format that is exclusive to the MPN. Each level, the player with the lowest chip stack will be eliminated until half the field remains – a similar concept to Double Ups, except the action is forced, making the game more exciting.
Finally we will also increase the numbers of SNGs available in the lobby at certain stakes, to make it easier for you to register for multiple SNGs at once.
Now that you’ve seen our plans and why we’re carrying them out, I invite you to leave your comments on this post. I can’t promise that every suggestion will be implemented, but I do promise that every comment will be read and considered. Thanks in advance to those of you who do comment.
Alex Scott (@AlexScott72o) is Head of Poker at Microgaming, which operates the MPN and Indian Poker Network, and provides poker services to Adjarabet.
Any opinions contained in this blog are the personal views of the author only, and not of any other person or organisation.