Category Archives: Poker Games

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! 

Pot Limit Cash Games

Recently I’ve been playing more pot limit cash games in place of no limit hold’em. On many online poker sites there just isn’t the choice of playing pot limit hold’em, so it’s really just limited to the two big sites; Full Tilt and Poker Stars. My preferred choice at the moment is Full Tilt, simply because it’s the best site for cash games due to offering rakeback.

The reason I like pot limit games rather than no limit is quite simple. I find it more skilful and there’s less players who are willing to make huge pre-flop bets – which I like to avoid. Usually players who make pre-flop bets that are 20x the big blind, usually fall into one single category; maniacs. Don’t get me wrong it’s good to play these donkeys, but I prefer to commit chips post-flop, rather than pre-flop. Calling huge bets pre-flop without premium hands is far too risky. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve had QQ and faced someone holding AA or KK, who made massive oversized bets pre-flop. This just doesn’t happen in pot limit.

Now you might be thinking the players must be better at pot limit. But this isn’t what I’ve discovered at Full Tilt. There are a lot of players “playing scared” so it’s easy to win. I am finding a better win rate at pot limit than I have been with no limit.

If you’re used to playing no limit hold’em then you’ll have to learn to adjust to pot limit play. Obviously you are constrained and can only bet the size of the pot. Slow playing monster hands down to the river is a poor strategy. Because once you get to the river pot may be so small that it barely becomes worth winning. But as with any successful cash game strategy – you should be building big pots for the big hands, and keeping pots small for the not so big hands. So pot limit hold’em suits players who like to play the correct cash game strategy.

Dealers Win with Automated Poker Gone

Ever since the invention of automated poker machines, dealers have had good reason to fear for their jobs.  And why wouldn’t they since automated poker machines cut the dealer out of the picture and save casinos a bundle on the salaries that they have to pay dealers.  What’s more is that many casinos have started experimenting with automated poker machines to see how well customers will take to them.

The thinking behind this is that casinos can gradually phase these automated poker machines onto the floor and phase out some of the regular tables.  Also, many casinos believe that they can attract a younger generation of players by doing this.  Of course the argument against this is that many people enjoy keeping the dealer, chips, table, and other human players in the equation for the experience.  And it seems that the experience has won out over the automated poker machines in Atlantic City.

Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino became the latest place in AC to realize that automated poker wasn’t winning any of their customers over.  In fact, Trump Plaza has decided to remove every automated poker machine in their establishment and they have no intention of trying this experiment again.

I must admit that I’m quite surprised at the fact that automated poker machines have failed so miserably to the point where casinos are completely removing from the floor.  Obviously this is done to make room for more profitable machines, but I’m still surprised at the move.  I think people believe they also have a much better chance at making money in live poker too so that could’ve been a factor as well.  And the belief that one can actually make money with poker is what keeps people playing in the first place.


Legal Poker could End Dangerous Underground Games

The world of underground poker has existed for decades as players from all over the world gather in stores after hours, back alley clubs, and even people’s homes to bet major money each week.  And, while all of this might sound like something out of the fictional movie “Rounders”, underground poker does exist and people are taking risks every time they play in one of these games.

But, unlike Rounders, the biggest risks don’t come from playing against mobsters that might kill you after a big win.  Instead, the main risks come from entirely different threats where people are taking legal and financial risks every day.  With the increased raids on home poker games by authorities, it is as dangerous as ever to hold a poker game in your house where people are playing for big money.  If you’re in attendance at one of these games you might be going to jail (depending on the state), and if you are hosting a game then you could be in even more legal trouble.

People are also at risk of being robbed when they attend these poker games since criminals often target them.  The reason criminals like to rob home poker games is because they know the players won’t tell authorities since they’re already engaging in illegal activities anyways.  And there are thousands of dollars around a home poker game so this just makes it even more attractive for robbers.

Of course, if the government was really concerned about any of this, they could always legalize poker so that people wouldn’t have to deal with these threats.  In legal poker, the government would be getting their tax money and they wouldn’t have to waste time and money raiding illegal poker games.  Plus, the players wouldn’t be at such high risk in terms of being robbed or having to go to jail since they would have a legal place to play. 

Authorities are going Too Far with Poker Raids

I know that it is illegal to host large poker games across America and some places like Oklahoma even go as far as to declare it a potential felony to host any type of game where money is exchanged.  So naturally authorities are going to keep cracking down on those who host the games (especially if they’re taking a rake) and, in many cases, those who play in them too.  But do authorities really need to be raiding bars and such that are located out in the middle of nowhere?

I recently saw where a poker game in the small town of Castalia, Ohio was raided by police after it was suspected a bar was running illegal tournaments.  Sure enough, all of the hard police work paid off and the bar was indeed holding illegal poker games as authorities confiscated $5,000 in cash, poker chips, and other gambling supplies.  In short, C & C’s Cold Creek Pub won’t be holding poker tournaments any time soon.

But to raid a bar in Castalia, Ohio – which has a population of under 2,000 people – goes a little far in my opinion.  Sure, the owners were probably getting some rake off of the games and the players were doing a little betting in the tournaments, but what else do people in a town of this size have to do?  Is robbing them of a venue to play poker tournaments really going to make any major impact in America’s war against gambling?

I think not and all the authorities really did in this situation was rob the residents of Castalia of a popular pastime.  Now I certainly understand raiding huge games where the hosts are taking big cuts off of the players and not paying taxes to the government.  But in the case of Castalia, Ohio, I don’t understand this raid at all. 

The Dream Team….of Poker

There are a lot of things where the team concept really makes sense: basketball, football, marketing, construction, colluding with buddies in online poker rooms to make more money…..just kidding about the last one.  But seriously, besides those who choose to cheat other players out of their money online  (in which case I really hope they get caught), I’ve never seen where the team concept comes into play with poker.  Apparently, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas thinks differently though.

That’s because the Hard Rock Hotel is going to be hosting a new form of poker that settles around the team-first concept (if you don’t believe me then check it out here).  It’s called Dream Team Poker and this team event will be taking place from November 7th to the 9th.  The concept of Dream Team Poker sounds pretty cool in theory since there will be 25 teams consisting of 3 people competing against each other. 

What’s unique about this is that players who hit the rail early will not only hate themselves, but they’ll also be hated by their teammates as well.  The early exits are no longer names under the rug – they count for their team’s score since everyone’s place is added to the tally.  To me, this is a pretty unique and original concept, plus the Hard Rock Poker Lounge is a sweet place to hold this event.  But don’t get too excited about the thought…..

This is because the Dream Team Poker deal is an invitation-only event and only 75 people will be invited to compete.  Everyone who is sent an invitation has to pay $1,000 which adds up to $3,000 for the entire team.  Wow!  What an invitation tournament… have the honor of paying $1,000 to fly out to Las Vegas, pay for your own room, and compete for a $75,000 prize pool which pales in comparison to many Sunday online tournaments where people can pay $300 (or less) to enter.

While the original line of thinking with this idea is pretty cool, I won’t be too impressed until Dream Team Poker becomes more practical.

Doyle Brunson vs. Annette Obrestad – Who will Win?

As one of the things designed to hype up the WSOPE and draw more attention to an event that is still in its infancy, Doyle Brunson will take on Annette Obrestad in a heads-up No-Limit Hold’em match.  And I’ll admit that this event they’ve cooked up is definitely a draw to the WSOPE as Doyle is an American icon in the poker industry while many say that Annette Obrestad is Europe’s best all-around player due to the fact that she has won the WSOPE Main Event and has the online world at her fingertips.

Further souping up the drama for this contest is the whole age difference between the two and the accolades that they bring to the table.  Doyle Brunson is 75 years old, has won the WSOP Main Event twice, is second all-time in WSOP bracelets with 10, and has played the game for well over 50 years.  Annette Obrestad, on the other hand, just turned 20 and is said to be a prodigy in that she began playing poker for cash when she was 15, has never deposited money into an account, and she started her bankroll through freerolls and never looked back.

This much anticipated match-up really has me wondering, just who will win the event.  The way this No-Limit heads-up contest is set up is that the winner will be the person who wins two out of three of the games.  So here goes my prediction:

I always like a surprise and think that Annette Obrestad is someone who is just a naturally talented poker player capable of doing whatever she wants in the game and in her future as well.  However, it’s hard to dispute Brunson’s experience and the fact that he has decades of table exposure over Obrestad.  So I pick Brunson as the winner though I think that it will definitely come down to the last game.  But whatever happens, it will definitely be an event to remember.

One Country seeks to Make Poker a Sport

There’s no question that poker has become one of the world’s most popular games.  Now I’ll spare you all of the reasons why it is so popular but we’ll just say that it’s a great way to make money if you are good at the game.  However, even with the popularity of poker right now, I never expected anyone to try and declare it a sport.  After all, most people would define sports as having some sort of athletic element to them. 

But some people in the Czech Republic have a different way of thinking with regards to poker and want to have it classified as a sport.  The Czech Association of Poker Clubs is pushing the government to declare poker a sport and have enlisted the help of Ernst & Young to provide legal support for their movement.  So far their actions have had some impact too as this is seriously something that is being considered in the country right now.

The Czech Association for Poker Clubs’ thinking is that, out of the 60,000 people who play poker in the country, only 1,000 of them normally do it in settings that would be deemed legal in the country.  And the Czech laws don’t make allowances for those who choose to play in homes or online with money on the table.  Casinos are the only place where poker betting is actually allowed as of now.  But if poker were a sport the Czech people would be able to play and bet as they choose and the strict regulations on the game would be uplifted. 

The CAPC’s argument for possibly declaring poker a sport is that it is actually a game of skill where people can win money in the long run versus other casino games where probabilities make almost everyone a loser in the end.  I myself have a hard time seeing poker being recognized as a sport though since it seems much more like a game than anything.  I do believe the skill involved does allow good players to win over the long haul but I think that the best that can come out of this for the Czechs is to have the current laws amended.


How to Determine who is the Best Texas Hold'em Player

When it comes to poker’s most popular form in Texas Hold’em, you’ll have many people spouting off about which is the best way to find out who’s the best player.  A lot of people believe that the best measure of who’s the top Texas player in a group is the No-Limit variation.  And their argument….because this is the version of Texas Hold’em that most people are playing. 

Another argument resides in people saying that Pot-Limit Hold’em is the best form of Texas Hold’em to use in order to find out who’s the best player.  They say it’s a good mixture of both Limit and No-Limit and best measures the overall skill of players.  Not as many people believe Limit Hold’em to be the best way to settle who’s a great Texas player but there are some who think its more mathematical approach to the game makes it a true measure of a player’s skill.

Now I’m not sure there is really a true way to settle the debate over which form of Texas Hold’em could be used as a measure of who’s the top player but I’ll do my best to give my opinion on the matter.  First off, I know that Limit Hold’em does do a good job of making players use a lot of odds to determine their next play but this version pretty much excludes the usage of other great poker skills such as protecting one’s hand and bluffing (for the most part).

No-Limit Hold’em definitely creates the most drama with all-in bets and is shown on TV the most.  Bluffing is certainly a skill here as is excellent post-flop play.  However, the ability of players to go all-in pre-flop and the ridiculous amount of loose, maniac play in this variation is definitely a drawback to using No-Limit as the chief measuring stick. 

Pot-Limit Hold’em sees quite a few hands go to the flop and players are also able to protect their hands better since the structure allows for much larger bets than in Limit.  In my opinion, there really aren’t any major drawbacks to using Pot-Limit as the best overall measure of a player’s skill in Texas Hold’em.  The only thing I can really think of is that Pot-Limit doesn’t normally draw the top players in the game due to its lack of popularity in the tournament world.