Tuesday, January 19, 2010

posted by James - 9:29 PM

Today Full Tilt Poker debuted their newest patented poker innovation: Rush Poker. There's no doubt they created this game for players who love NASCAR races with all the wrecks but no caution flags; snowboarding down a mogul run with all the wicked jumps, but not having to lift back up to the top; and filming a blockbuster movie without ever having to say cut. Action! Action! Action!

You can click the above link to find out more, but quickly... It's a ring game set up (currently .05/.10c - .50c/$1.00 limits) where each hand you play starts at a new table with up to 8 new players (5 if you're playing the 6-max version). Every time you fold a hand, you're whisked away to a new table. If you can already tell you don't want to play the hand, you can click the "Quick Fold" button and you don't even have to wait for the action to be on you before you see the next hand you'll play. You pick the pool you want to play, and then can play up to four tables with the players in that pool.

It definitely can be a rush when you're flying from table to table looking for the hand you want to play. Some aren't feeling that rush though. Every time FTP does an update, players speak out about the features they rather would see and their favorite hot-button upgrades... usually, they just can't help accusing FTP of trying to jack up the rake on us poor, oft-abused low-limit players.

I don't really get that part, though. Rake is only paid by the players that play... and pay. Don't want to pay rake, don't play. It's pretty much that simple. When they're making a ton of rake off of us, just means players want to play that game/format/whatever. More players also means more bad players. Sure, an oppressive rake can take some or most of the profitability away. But if you can win enough to make it work for you, don't hate... just count your money. And if you can't, then pick a different game. Don't put down an idea just because FTP found a way to profit while adding a new wrinkle to the often robotic game of poker.

I did play it for a short while earlier this afternoon. After about 400 hands per table on two Rush tables in about an hour and a half (yes, you read that right), I was spinning and had to quit. However, I did make a profit... a few buy-ins, in fact. But boy was I on tilt at the end of it... and before I logged off I lost big pots on my last hands on both tables when I knew I should have folded.

I went back and looked at my hand histories for both "tables". The hands jump around a lot when you're rapidly quick folding. It's not too bad when you go to analyze your own play, but it makes real-time assessment fairly difficult... which reeks of awesomeness! HUDs and Data Miners can't keep up with you. This gives a huge advantage over just multi-tabling for us that don't like to cheat.

To expound on the advantage of Rush Poker over multi-tabling... The benefit of multi-tabling is increasing your win rate while not moving up stakes and risking more of your bankroll. You also cut down the wait time between hands while establishing an image you can exploit on as many tables as you can handle (Holdem Manager and PokerTracker users also cull stats on your play while they're off on one of their other 12 tables, but I've already established I consider that cheating).

However, it doesn't completely cut out your down time... at least it doesn't guarantee it. Rush Poker sure the heck does. While you've found the hand you want to play on one table, you can be "rushing" through the garbage on another looking for your spot. I haven't tried more than two tables yet, but I can't even fathom how many more hands you'd see than if you just had your normal complement of ring games open. You should never find yourself in a spot where you missed a hand on a table because you were too busy with another. If you end up with a connection hiccup or other computer malady, your hand never started... just start clicking and see another 50. You don't have to worry about losing the big blind you've been stealing constantly, making up most of your profit for the session.

As far as picking your spot goes, this transitions nicely to what might not be so great about this format... or at least what you lose. Just because you picked a spot... it doesn't mean you got the right one, and you'll have no way of knowing it until it is too late. You'll rarely know some key factors leading to your profitability in ring games. You won't know who you're raising/three-betting, etc., and they won't know you, for better or worse. You don't know how they got their stack, lost their stack, when they bought in, how many hands they're playing at the time, and so forth. You'll have no stats on the group of players as a whole... Table selection is totally out the window, and you can have many profitable sessions of poker based on that alone. You will see some of those players again on other tables, and there will be many, many times you'd wish you could see a hand play out after you've folded to a big bet. (Here's a tip I did pick up to help with that though. Anytime you think you're making a big lay down and want to see any action left before you zoom over to another table, click "sit out next hand" before you do so. You won't go on to another table until the hand is completely over.)

To get back to the good stuff... I'm obviously not an expert on this yet. I've only played one session. I don't really know how much more I'll play... but a couple things stand out to me.

There's a lack of embarrassment factor, and it goes both ways. You don't have to worry about your image or being embarrassed when you suck out (you shouldn't anyway) because a guy raised your steal from the button (and you should be doing so liberally) and you went with the hand anyway. You'll be at a new table with a new set of player in a nano-second anyway.

Similarly, be aware your opponent won't worry about embarrassment either. This means he'll most likely not care about pushing with a small pocket pair or AQ, maybe even less... so expect some weird hands at showdown when you have big hands... and relish in it. Sure, you'll be on the bad end of a cooler quite a bit, but it will be worth it for the amount you'll probably get paid off when you win.

I alluded to this before... steal from late position a lot. Heck, maybe even middle position. You will never, ever know who has "quick folded" behind you, or not. Most of the time you'll pick up their blinds, and be happy about it. And when they haven't "quick folded", you know they have a hand they want to play. When they haven't made it too expensive with a three-bet from the button or blinds, call with your small pocket pair and suited connectors and dump your easily-dominated hands. Stack the hell out of those over-playing fools!

They're going to over-play top pair-top kicker... they sure as heck won't be folding it. They're probably going to smooth call your continuation bets with big hands like a flopped set or two pair, even some monster draws. Take advantage of the fact that folding is easy. Find that fold button and use it liberally (good advice for any game, really), but if they're going to slow play their big hands, thank the poker gods for the bounty you're about to receive when you suck out on the river. Meaning make sure you have redraws against a monster when you continue past the turn.

I normally prescribe to the Ferguson and Gordon restrictions on my bankroll... even tighter in most cases. I haven't really got a good handle on what will work best for Rush Poker sessions. I could see a lot of games where you'd go through a few buy-ins at your normal level really quick before you even get going. I'm thinking you shouldn't buy-in for 1% of your bankroll with each rush "table" you play. That might be a little too tightwad for most, but there are going to be days where it's just not your day... and you don't want that to burn through most of what you've worked so hard for.

Also... I pay a lot of attention to how much of my bankroll I have out there in any one session... especially when I'm winning! There will be people who have been playing hours and have amassed ridiculously big stacks. Don't fall into that trap! You could lose a huge chunk of your profits, if not every dime. If you get above 10-15% of your entire bankroll (what you have in play included) on any one table, I'd cash that out. Sure, start another table up if you want, but don't risk too much trying out this format.

I'm a big advocate of the FTP Academy, as you know, but I still am not sure how playing Rush Games factors into the FTPA. I do know there are a lot of players out there racking up huge amounts of FTPs in extremely short amounts of time. If you've ever wanted to rack up some bonuses or complete an iron-man month, this is the perfect way to do it.

Of course, you can do this even easier if you're using my method of playing around 00:00 server time. This limits you to ~15 nights of playing good-sizes sessions of online poker, for those who have a life. I'm thinking you could clear most of your iron man goal with Rush Games about a half hour on either side of midnight (9 pm Pacific). Happy Hours will also be really good for this too.

This is only after a couple hours of play of course. If there are any other quirks to this new format, I'll make sure to keep everyone updated... and send all of your thoughts over to me. As always, good luck out there.

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