Posts Tagged ‘Zoom Poker’

PokerStars drops Heads-Up Cash Games

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

pokerstars-heads-upPokerStars has continued its quest to appease recreational players by dropping heads-up cash games. Starting Feb. 12th, all HU tables in Limit Hold’m, NL Hold’em and PLO will be shuttered. This of course will also kill the marquee high-stakes matchups that have happened at PokerStars over the years, such as Tom Dwan vs. Dan ‘Jungleman12’ Cates.

From now on, the only heads-up option that Stars players will have are Zoom HU games ranging from $0.25/$0.50 to $50/$100 stakes.

This is just the latest in a number of controversial moves that PokerStars has made in an effort to recruit/retain more amateur players. Not long ago, Stars also made the decision to eliminate rewards for mid and high-stakes tables as well as disband the Supernova Elite level.

Online poker sites more or less tolerated HU cash games during the glory years, despite numerous complaints about bumhunting. However, with global online poker traffic slowly diminishing, Stars is taking every necessary step possible to put recreational players above bumhunters and high-volume grinders.

dwan-vs-catesThe obvious reason why Zoom Poker will still feature heads-up cash games is because you’re taken to a new table after every hand. So it’s impossible to sit at a half-empty HU table forever, awaiting your next victim.

Not surprisingly, Amaya Gaming bigwig Eric Hollreiser was supportive of the changes, citing PokerStars’ desire to create a more-fun playing environment for everybody.

“These changes are part of PokerStars’ ongoing strategic plan to improve the poker ecosystem and enhance the player experience,” said Hollreiser. “In this case, we aim to reduce the widespread predatory behavior at heads-up games. We expect these changes to incentivize more players to be focused on playing poker and less focused on selecting opponents. Ultimately we believe this will raise the competitive bar and help increase a fun and fair playing experience for everyone.”

Most poker pros will hate the decision to get rid of most HU tables. However, it’s very possible that it will be a positive decision for the poker community as a whole.

PokerStars’ US Fast-Fold Patent gives them a Tremendous Advantage

Saturday, May 17th, 2014

PokerStars has struck out three times in their efforts to enter the US online poker market. Nevada flat-out denied them, New Jersey said wait two more years, and Delaware didn’t want an operation without an online casino. But while Stars has watched fellow competitors like 888 and partypoker enter the US market, they still hold the trump card.

The Rational Group, PokerStars’ parent company, managed to gain a patent on fast-fold poker, which bodes well for their Zoom Poker product. Patent Number 8,727,850, listed as “Computer gaming device and method for computer gaming,” gives Stars exclusive rights to offer fast-fold variants. This means that 888, which offers Snap Poker, and partypoker, which offers FastForward, both need to worry about their fast-fold variants from a legal standpoint.

Apparently, all it took for PokerStars to gain the patent after hundreds of rejections was a meeting with a United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) examiner. The examiner explained that Stars should change the phrase “folding out of turn” to refer to “when gameplay is at a position of another one of the first plurality of players.”

Thanks to this simple change, PokerStars now owns a key chip with regard to success in the Untied States. Many poker networks around the world are using fast-fold versions to attract more recreational players. After all, fast-fold poker moves players to a new table with fresh cards when they fold – thus allowing for more hands and less waiting.

With the US market still in its infancy, Stars figures to gain a big upperhand once a state does accept their gaming application. The world’s largest poker site definitely has a good opportunity to enter California. Many believe that the Golden State will legalize poker within the next year. And with Stars heavily lobbying politicians in a state with no major casinos – unlike Nevada and Atlantic City – they’re less likely to get shut out of California.

So whenever PokerStars does get accepted into the US, they’ll definitely have one big advantage over everybody else – as if they didn’t already with their massive size and resources.

Is PokerStars moving to Zoom-Only?

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

It’s been a few weeks since PokerStars made the controversial decision to switch all of their regular high stakes games (50/100 NLHE, PLO and up) to Zoom Poker format. And Stars recently struck again by changing their $25/$50 PLO games to Zoom on February 1st.

Given these huge changes, a poster on TwoPlusTwo raised a good question about if PokerStars is set on transitioning all of their cash game formats to Zoom. Here’s a look at the OP:

First it was 50/100 NLHE/PLO, now 25/50 PLO, eventually they will do this at 10/20 and maybe 5/10. I think lower limits won’t be changed, but who knows..

As Stars Head of Poker Communications Lee Jones said back in December, the idea behind switching games to Zoom format is to eliminate what’s become a predatory environment. Rather than top-ranked players consistently clashing in high stakes games, online poker has become a place where pros are far more worried about seeking out fish. As another TwoPlusTwo poster put it:

yea they do this to prevent the current predator system which leads to auto-sitting when a fish sits and auto-leaving when the fish leaves. it’s bumhunting to the extreme and it has to be dealt with

Going back to the OP, will Stars eventually become a place where the only cash action is Zoom? This is an experiment right now, so the answer to this question depends on if players are largely happy with the changes, and if Stars is happy with their profits. The world’s largest online poker site can more than live with a few disgruntled regs as long as they’re continually attracting fresh recreational players and making money.

Until PokerStars can move into the United States and other unfriendly, but lucrative markets, it seems that they’ve hit a ceiling. So look for them to keep testing Zoom in other stakes to try and get something going in the profits department. And even if they lose regs over this move, a good portion of these players will go to the Rational Group’s (PokerStars) other site, Full Tilt.

Why is Zoom Poker so Tough?

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

If you’ve ever played Zoom Poker at Stars – or any of the other fast poker variants like Speed Poker (Titan), Fast Forward (Party Poker) or Fast Poker (Unibet) – you have probably noticed that these games are tough to beat. In fact, most people find that they’re far less profitable playing quicker poker variations than they are in regular cash games. This being said, it’s worth diving a little deeper into why Zoom Poker is tougher than normal cash play.

Tight is Right

Fast poker variants are much tighter than what many people are used to. One of the big reasons why is because players don’t have much information on opponents since they’re constantly being whisked away to new tables. So players tend to rely heavily on their cards/table position, rather than reads on opponents.

Because of the tighter play, high unsuited connectors like AK and KQ lose some value since you’ll be running up against big pocket pairs quite frequently. So anybody who’s keen on playing drawing hands will need to scale this back some in Zoom.

More Blinds

Another tough part about fast poker games is that you’ll be dealing with the blinds far more often. Action happens quicker in Zoom Poker, so the orbits come around more frequently.

Now this might not be such a big deal if you’re a skilled player who commonly makes profits. However, if you’re somebody who’s still learning the intricacies of poker, the increased blinds rate just compounds problems. Taking this into account, we highly suggest that you do your training elsewhere and save fast poker games for more experienced grinders.

Bigger Swings

One more point worth mentioning about the difficulty of Zoom Poker is that big swings occur more often. Again, these games move faster and so your up and downswings are amplified. Of course, anybody who’s used to multi-tabling will probably feel more comfortable with the wild swings.

All in all, fast cash game variants can be fun to play since you’re always getting action and never sitting around. But do be aware that Zoom and similar games seem quite tough in the beginning.

Tips for Fast Poker

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

For about a year, the fast poker craze died out because Full Tilt went down along with its Rush Poker software. Rush was well known for allowing people to play more hands in less amount of time.

But ever since the emergence of Zoom Poker at PokerStars and several other sites rolling out speed poker versions, this craze is back again. Assumming you’re somebody who’s just beginning with fast variants, here are some tips that’ll help you get off to a good start.

Tip #1 -Make sure you’re conquering Regular Poker First

While you can take your time to make decisions in speed poker games, you’ll still be playing at an accelerated pace. This being said, bad players can lose more money when they’re forced to play extra hands. Assuming you are a losing player, it’s definitely not a good idea to opt for fast poker variants because you’ll only lose money at a quicker rate. If you’ve proved yourself in regular cash games over a long time period, then it’s safe to try faster tables.

Tip #2 – Expect Different play

One phenomenon you see in a lot of speed poker versions involves different table dynamics. On a per hand basis, you’ll notice nittier play because it’s so easy for players to fold their speculative and marginal hands and get new cards. That said, you often need to play stronger hands on average and do a lot more folding to keep up with the nits. Of course, this is just what you can typically expect so adjust your play accordingly.

Tip #3 – Don’t let Rake Races dictate your Play

Seeing as how fast poker versions enable people to play more hands than usual, they’re good for winning money in rake races. Unfortunately, the prize money you win in rake races isn’t going to help much if you lost $500 throughout the month trying to earn the cash. Case in point, you should concentrate more on improving your speed poker game by playing when you’re mentally prepared and fresh. Once you start playing well, then you can use fast poker to chase rake race prizes.