Monthly Archives: January 2010

Rush Poker – Good or Bad?

In my previous post I was critical of one particular online room (network) for their announcement of “updates” – which put them just a few light years behind other online poker rooms, rather than many light years. But today I’ll be talking about an online poker room, Full Tilt Poker, who are the opposite, and who have just demonstrated once again how innovative and ahead of the game they are. That’s right, I’m talking about Rush Poker.

Rush Poker has been billed as “the world’s fastest poker game” – and it has certainly caused a lot of buzz in the online poker world. I won’t give a long description of the game, because you probably know about it already. But if not – in this new online poker format you join a large player pool and get moved to a brand new table to face different opponents from within this pool, each and every hand that you play. When you fold your hand, you get moved to another table and get to play a new hand. There’s even a ‘quick fold’ button for the truly impatient. It’s like multi-tabling, but all from one table. Andy Bloch (Full Tilt Pro) summed it up nicely when he said, “It’s the difference between watching TV and watching TiVo. You get to skip the commercials.”

Players at Full Tilt have flocked to Rush Poker. I’ve read many different views about Rush Poker, and I believe a lot of players are basing their initial impressions on whether they’ve won or lost at Rush Poker. For those who’ve started off winning at Rush Poker, they usually love it. For those who’ve bit hit by bad variance, they probably hate it. I’m sure there’s also a ton of players who loved it at first when they got lucky, then played a couple of losing sessions – and are left undecided. Poker players can be very results orientated, can’t they!

Well, I’ve played it a fair bit this past week, and have enjoyed both winning and losing sessions – ahead overall though, thankfully. I like a lot of things about Rush Poker, and some things I’m not so keen on. Let’s start with the positives. I really love the fact that you don’t have to worry about table image. In a regular game if you steal from the button a lot, players will notice after a while. That doesn’t happen on Rush Poker because you’re constantly switching tables and finding new players each hand. So you can steal everytime, without having to worry that you might be tagged as a persistent thief.

In Rush Poker you don’t have to wait for a hand to finish. Obviously this is just super convenient, but it also means you stop being so results orientated. Sometimes it’s nice to see how a hand played out among your opponents, but being less results orientated is a good thing – and helps keep the tilt-ometer from ticking too much. And anyway, you’ve folded so who cares if you would have won that pot, right? Let’s play the next hand!

Okay, so that’s just a couple of the positives (there are more). Now let me say what I don’t like about Rush Poker. Firstly I don’t like the fact that it promotes ratholing, because you can leave and buy-in again right away for the minimum. This is perfect for a short stack strategy, and I hate short stackers. But the good news is Full Tilt have increased the minimum buy-in from 20BBs to 35BBs.

One of the greatest thing about Rush Poker is the fact nobody can data mine you. But this is also one of the worst things too. I have no clue about my opponents, other than where they are from, their username and their stack size. Reads are an important part of online poker, and in Rush Poker it’s very hard to get reads. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t import hand histories of players I’ve never played with before (because that’s cheating!), but I do use a HUD compiled of my own personal history. Not knowing the fish from the regular, is a big drawback. However, the fact they have nothing on me either gives it some balance.

Problem the worst thing about Rush Poker is that it encourages the fish to tighten up, and wait for big hands. Of course some bad players just can’t help themselves, but in general – they can now wait for a good hand and at a rate of 300 hands per hour, they don’t have to wait too long. 

So, there’s both good and bad points about Rush Poker. I appreciate that I’ve not shared any Rush Poker strategies in this post, but that’s because I’m not yet convinced on the optimum strategy for success. Hopefully in my next post I will have come to some reasonable conclusions, and I’ll share my thoughts. But for now I’ll just say that if you’ve not yet tried out Rush Poker, then I recommend you give it a go. It could well be the future of online poker! 

Poker Heaven or Poker Hell?

I play on quite a few different online poker sites. I’m lucky because I don’t live in the USA, so I have a wider choice of rooms to play at. Although I tend to spend most of my time with my American cousins playing at Full Tilt and Poker Stars, I do occasionally play at a few other sites. The problem is, apart from maybe Party Poker and the iPoker sites, the software at some of these poker rooms is so out of date. It’s amazing how bad some online poker sites are, when you think how much money they make. The prime culprit here is the Boss Media poker network. I’ve given them a bit of a bashing in the past (fully justified), but here’s part of an email they sent me this week: 

We are proud to announce that on January 14th, we will be introducing new features that will make your gaming experience even better!

Which made me think: Oh great. It’s about time they updated their software, which is incredibly annoying. Now I can play with all the fish who frequent Poker Heaven without tilting from the crappy software. Great. What changes have been made, I wonder.

         • Multitasking whilst playing poker has just got easier as you can now choose to have your table pop up when it is your turn to act. To enable this function, go to the ‘Settings’ tab in the lobby. 

Hmmm, not exactly cutting edge stuff. Helpful, but this should have been done light years ago.

         • Our new ‘Join Waiting List’ button means you will never be disappointed again if the table you wish to play at is full.

Right, okay. How long have the other online poker rooms had waiting lists? Forgive me if I’m not getting excited by this email.

         • To make you feel even more comfortable at the tables, you will also be able to choose your preferred seat by selecting the ‘Sit Here’ button.

Whoppido! And that’s the extent of their software update. It’s now 2010 for crying out loud. These changes are way overdue, but they’re still so far behind it’s untrue.

Maybe I’m being harsh, I don’t know. But when you play on Full Tilt and Poker Stars, you just get a little spoilt with there excellent software. Rant over.

Why Do Losers Say Online Poker Is Rigged?

I was having a conversation with a player from my home game the other day. We were talking about online poker, and after saying how he struggles to win online, he said “I think Poker Stars is rigged”. He’s been playing poker long enough to know it’s unlikely that Poker Stars is rigged. I was too polite to suggest it might be that he sucks at poker (actually he’s not a bad player, but online poker is a different ball game).

The whole conversation reminded me of post match interviews with football team coaches. If they won, the interview is usually about how well they played, how they took their chances, and so on. If they lose, they blame external factors, usually the referee, the rotten luck, and so on.

I believe many poker players think they are better than they truly are. They win at their local casino, so why can’t they win online? It doesn’t make sense to them. Their local game might be soft, and while there are plenty of bad players playing online poker – there’s a huge number of skilled poker players, even in the micro stakes. So rather than blame it on ‘online poker is rigged’ and jump on that bandwagon, some introspection should take place. I’m sure if I were to observe their play or analyze some hand histories, it would become clear why they are an online loser.

Some players just don’t want to know the truth – that they might not be as good as poker as they think. I know someone who regularly tells me about his bad beats, how he’s on the worst run ever, how he can’t even win with Aces in the hole, and a million other complaints. Everytime I see him he’s got a bad beat story. I suggest he puts some tracking software on his computer so we can review some of his hands – but he refuses. “I don’t need tracking software to tell me how unlucky I am” he says.

The truth is, some players just bury their heads in the sand. Maybe the truth hurts too much.