Online poker network MPN has cut the effective rake on its “Fish Party” lottery sit and gos by almost half after it discovered that very few skilled players could win at the game.
When MPN introduced its “Fish Party” lottery sit and go games back in May 2016, it did so with a rake of just 5%, competitive for the industry.
However, their structure also involves a progressive jackpot component—the top payout increases in value each time a game was played until it was hit. This allows for a top prize to grow to enticingly high amounts: Right now, for example, the jackpot prize for the €1 game is over €50,000.
The additional contribution to this progressive prize was 5.17%. So if a played never experienced a jackpot prize (which is likely, as it only hits 5 times every 1 million games) their effective rake was over 10%.
“Some players complained that this made it impossible to win … my immediate reaction to the complaints was simply ‘we designed the games with recreational players in mind’, but after a little more reflection I thought ‘what if these guys are right and it’s not possible to win’?” writes Alex Scott, Head of Product at Microgaming, on the network blog.
After investigating the issue, the company found that it was indeed difficult to win—“so difficult in fact, that very few skilled players were winning unless they somehow got lucky and hit a big multiplier or the jackpot,” Scott writes.
The team ran simulations of different payout structures to find a “sweet spot” where skilled players posted a profit consistently.
The resulting changes are significant: Instead of over 5% of the buy-in going to the progressive, it will now be just 0.85%. Of course, this means it will take much longer for the jackpot to grow, but for players it means the total effective rake will be less than 6%—even when they never see a jackpot.
Additionally, changes to the prize structure have made the payouts more bottom heavy, also reducing variance: The 4x multiplier replaces the 3x, the 6x multiplier will also occur more frequently, and the 25x has been dropped. The operator’s cut remains the same, at 5%.
“I believe that for a poker game to be successful, there needs to be a proper balance of luck and skill,” Scott writes. “Poker is not like roulette or slots, and players who play poker do so with different motivations. In any gambling game you need to deliver winning experiences frequently enough to keep players interested, but in poker the game must be beatable by some in the long term, or it’s not poker and a significant number of poker fans won’t play.”
The changes are expected to roll out on December 14, pending regulatory approval.