Here I am going to address some of the differences between the regular old fashioned way of playing poker on the internet. The new "Fast Fold" variant first graced our computer screens back around 2010 - this article will give you insight into Zoom poker strategy.
Whether you are playing "Rush"
, or "Speed"
the most obvious change is the number of hands you can play in a given time-frame. On average, with fast internet and running Windows and my database on a SSD, I could play 1500 hands/hr
full ring Zoom games, playing 4 tables. Even with a slower connection and running a database on a standard HDD you should be able to average 250 hands/hr for each table, fully concentrated and not feeling like you're just clicking buttons to keep up.
After being asked to write this article I spent some time Googling and talking to people I knew to see what other players thought's were and if they agreed with my experience. More than one person said that there was a different feel to the fast fold game because of a lack of information about our opponents. That doesn't make complete sense to me as you can build up a useable sample size reasonably fast. It's probably more accurate to talk about the lack of an in-game dynamic.
Even though two players may have built up more than one thousand hands on each other, because you're not at the same table for every hand, or even most hands, there is an obvious tendency for many players to fail to adjust, even when they are aware that they might be getting exploited.
This can be for several different reasons, but the main one is that they can instantly move onto the next hand and away from any difficult decisions that you might be forcing onto them.
For example, if you are playing on a regular table and begin 3 betting the hell out of the guy to your immediate right, he's going to do something about it soon enough, if he chooses to stick around. On a Zoom table there is a much increased probability that your opponent will simply move on, hoping not to see you for a while longer. You really can get away with murder for a lot longer before you'll see a reaction.
As a consequence of this pattern, stealing becomes more profitable from late position. Make sure that you have the relevant stats on your HUD
as you will find a huge number of players defending so tight that you have a profitable steal
with any two cards from the button or small blind, and by the time you see them again in the same positions they will have likely forgotten about the previous steal attempt.
You shouldn't be thinking that it's as easy as maybe I've made it sound. There will be adjustments happening, but there's no getting away from the fact that fast fold games in general seem to play more straightforward than regular tables due to this option of escape.
This leads into my next point, of tighter stacking off ranges
pre flop and tighter post flop play. Even though you will still see the same variation of pre flop styles, at the micro stakes, as a population read, players are not stacking off pre flop as wide in the fast fold format, particularly on full ring tables. KK+ is standard for a high percentage of the player pool, and even in late position I would still say QQ and AK are not being stacked off for 100bb by the majority. Whereas on a regular table you will begin to develop a dynamic with the players one and two seats to your immediate left and right which will lead to them responding ever looser if you are playing a TAG or LAG
style and 3/4/5 betting with a normal frequency.
Overall, these tendencies mean that smaller win rates are seen playing fast fold. At the very smallest stakes you do see plenty of 100bb full stack donations
from the worst players, but it doesn't feel like you see it as often as you would on a regular table. The lack of pre flop stacking off, while hindering your win rate to some degree, does have the added bonus effect of reducing variance, which is always nice. It will also lead to more post flop play allowing you to utilise any potential skill advantage, because as we all know, post flop is where the real money is made.
Ease of access, for your sessions is an important point for many players. If you don't have a great deal of free time to play, it's nice to be able to jump into a Zoom game on Pokerstars with a player pool in the region of several hundred people. Sessions can also be stopped in seconds, as well as paused without giving up what might be a deep stack if you prefer deep stacked play.
No table break ups as well. This is the most frustrating aspect of regular tables. You spend time waiting on the list for a juicy table, you get the Jesus seat directly to the left of the biggest whale you've seen in weeks, you wait until the blinds come around to you.......and the fish leaves!, quickly followed by the rest of the table.
It's also annoying if you're a full ring player and your tables are always a player short or three. Never a problem playing Zoom, 9 players every hand! ( Obviously providing you're playing in a player pool large enough to provide the opponents on four tables)
No doubt some of you will be considering the option of playing enough regular tables to achieve the same hands per hour that Zoom can offer. While Zoom allows you to play a hefty number of hands in a short time-frame, it also gives you some control over the tempo of the game. You don't HAVE to press the 'fast fold' button at lightning speed if you have a difficult decision to consider.
With up to 24 regular tables allowed at any one time on Pokerstars, here you can find yourself quickly swamped with too many decisions to think through, and not enough time bank. At least when you're armed with a 'fast fold' button, and a limited number of tables you won't ever find yourself in such bother.
Those of you who play such high volume will appreciate the tiredness factor, and how important it is to take frequent breaks. I found that playing Zoom with a colour scheme that is easy on my eyes across 4 tables was far less tiring than 24 tabling regular tables, or even a mix of tables from different networks. This is probably due to fast fold format requiring much less eye movement to keep up the pace, and also a lack of times where there is so much going on at the same time.
Hourly rate is likely not going to be much different whatever your choice is. You can expect to see higher bb/100 win rates on regular tables, but the factors mentioned above will lead to a drop if you try and play so many tables that you're getting the same number of hands per hour. I'd be interested to hear your experiences with this in the comments below, as it's 18 months since I last tried the comparison myself.
Table selection is something we hear so much about these days, in a much tougher climate than the 'Golden Age' of around 10 years ago. If you want to maximize your chances of a crushing win rate you need to pay attention to who you are playing against.
It's no good being the 9th best player at your stakes if you constantly sit down and play with the best 8. But it is essential on regular tables. If, like me, you're not as keen on that aspect of the game, and you would rather get on with the technical part of the game without worrying as much about dynamics and psychology
, then Zoom is probably a good choice for you.
The only warning I will give at this stage, if I'm convincing you to try it for the first time, is that the bad beats will feel at first as if they're coming more often than they should. This is just a natural consequence of the increased hand rate, don't worry, just keep calm and make your sessions shorter to begin with.
Finally, the last thing I want to talk about is, which format is best for learning new skills, and integrating those skills into your everyday game.
It makes sense that if we play a small number of regular tables we can focus more on what is happening. This is a good environment for learning skills from the beginning, but when you're semi comfortable with where you stand but not totally, it often is a matter of time and experience to complete the development. Here, Zoom becomes a perfect environment for getting in that much increased volume, and gaining the comfort you need with whatever it is you've been studying.
My recommendation is, that you take a look at what is known as 'The four stages of competence'
, and think for yourself where you stand with all the parts of your game. Then you can make a decision based on what you want to work on, and how competent you currently are. Nothing highlights your shortcomings quite like being put under time pressure.
If you're struggling in general with your recent results, then Zoom might not be a good choice for the present. It's been seen as good advice, as far back as 2005 when I first started, that if you aren't having the success you were having, then cutting down on the number of tables and hands per hour is a good idea. A single table of Zoom might seem like an option in the middle here, but I recommend, if you're trying to slow things down to focus more, then regular tables would be a better choice, as you do get the practice of observing in game dynamics, which can only make you a better player in the long run.
I hope this article was helpful and I look forward to hearing your comments.