Full Tilt Poker recently introduced some new small stakes tables in a format they call “Rush Poker”:
Available exclusively at Full Tilt Poker, Rush Poker* is the ultimate high-speed poker experience.
This new poker format is designed to minimize your wait time between hands and keep you in the action. You’ll join a large player pool and face a different table of opponents every hand you play. When you fold your hand, you’ll be rushed to another table for a new hand right away.
To play even faster, use the Quick Fold button to move to a new table for the next hand immediately.
The basic idea is that you always have a hand to play. The second you decide you want to fold, you are instantly assigned to a random new table, with new opponents, and have a new hand to play.
In my opinion, this is a fantastic idea and a great example of allowing online poker to be its own game rather than just a derivative of live poker. No one enjoys sitting and waiting for others to finish playing a hand so that the next one can be dealt, and now you don’t have to. Just because this is a necessity in a live setting doesn’t mean sites like FTP can’t take advantage of the magic of the interwebs to provide a better (or at least different) experience.
Rush Poker has a couple of implications, the most obvious of which are that you can play dramatically more hands per table-hour (though presumably fewer tables simultaneously) and that you have little opportunity to get reads on your opponents or build up a table dynamic with them.
I underestimated how significant this second factor was going to be. There’s a world of difference between a relative unknown and a complete unknown, and even in a few dozen hands I can get at least a bit of a baseline on how someone will play. Even at $.50/$1, the highest stakes at which Rush Poker is currently offered and where I am presumably far better than the general population, I found myself in surprisingly many spots where I wished I had at least a vague idea of whether someone was loose or tight, passive or aggressive.
That said, you will run into the same player more than once, especially since multi-tabling is possible. Over 444 hands at 6-max tables, the most I ever saw any single player was 8 times. At the time that I quit, there were 200 different players playing, and 355 “entries”, which I assume means that the average player was playing fewer than 2 tables at once.
As for getting more hands, I managed 444 on two tables in about an hour and a half. That comes out to 150 hands/table-hour, which is 2-3 times what I get at a normal 6-max table. That seems about right.
I lost three buy-ins in that 444 hands, but I also lost a pre-flop coin flip, flopped a set vs. a straight, flopped top pair and a flush draw vs. a set, rivered two pair vs. a set, and had someone river a straight flush on my full house, so overall I feel like I was in OK shape despite my experience in dealing with the fishies.
If you want some more thoughts on how to adapt to Rush Poker, Michael Craig made some interesting posts on the subject recently on the Full Tilt blog.