Every since Full Tilt Poker introduced Rush Poker back in 2010, the fast-fold variant has become a popular favourite. After all, if you’re a winning player why would you not want the possibility of playing three to four times as many hands in an hour as you got before. It’s all about the hourly, right?
As is usually the case with poker, it’s not as simple as carrying on just the same as you do on reg tables. There are some notable adjustments needed to get the best out of the new situation and some of these have become more or less important as poker has evolved over the last decade.
Population Tendencies Are Not the Same
One of the first things you will read on the difference between reg and fast-fold tables is how much tighter the players are on fast-fold. This was arguably the case back in 2010, but it’s now critical to take advantage of the status quo to survive past the smallest micros.
One of the biggest reasons for this is the prevalence of hand charts for NL Hold’em on the internet. In years gone by you could see who the fish were because they all played a VPIP/PFR style resembling 60/9. Today, in 2019, most players are in the right ballpark so you have to wait longer to see who is who.
Firstly, there will be a lot of unknowns on most tables and you must exploit them right from the off by being aggressive and stealing much more than you are used to and even comfortable with doing. Unlike on reg tables, where many players will put their foot down early on to avoid being pegged as weak, you will find you get the benefit of the doubt until both of you have built up enough of a sample on your HUDs.
The recreational players who are not even running a HUD are not likely to ever adjust against your new strategy. They tend to always play the same.
The three main steal exploits are as follows:
- Expand your opening range in late position and the small blind. In the small blind you can often get away with up to an 80% range against an unknown, and revert to around 40% against competent regs. From the button, if both the blinds are folding a total combined 145% of the time to a steal you have a profitable open with any two cards. Even ignoring the chance of flopping a monster with trash.
- 3-bet bluff more often against unknowns. While recreational players will still call as wide as ever, the regs tend to default towards playing tight until they know you. Don’t forget that as you know people are defending tighter than on reg tables you must proceed with added caution post-flop.
- Even though the majority of players are playing tighter pre-flop they still won’t be flopping strong hands most of the time. This gives added incentive to try and take pots away from them post-flop.
Playing the “Other” Half of the Game
It has long been the standard advice to tell new players that the best way to move through the micro stakes is to play a tight ABC game. This usually comes with an added “You can’t bluff fish.”
In 2019 this is no longer the pearl of wisdom it once was. You must be comfortable bluffing as all players below elite level have leaks. After all, why would you only want to play half of the game? Sure,most of your profit comes from value betting, but bluffing is satisfying too. And it is also necessary to survive past around 10NL or 25NL in any format.
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The Effect of Smaller Win Rates
One effect of everyone playing a tighter more patient style is that win rates are smaller than what can be expected on reg tables. Of course this is countered by the increased volume, but still, this has an an effect on a few different things.
Even today, not everyone is using a HUD. This is fine as a new player who is learning to pay attention on a couple of reg tables, but for real success in the fast-fold games a decent HUD is crucial. As mentioned above, there will be so many players you know nothing about and you must be ready to adjust if they are not susceptible to your default strategy. The regs in your games will certainly have one.