Zoom Poker: The strategy

ps_news_thn.jpgI am no theorist. I am no tactician. I'm a blogger who could better tell you how to make a great gumbo. That said, I know smart people. Lots of them. People who are good at boiling down the basics of a problem and turning it into something understandable for people (like me) who might need a little help adjusting to something new. Like, say, Zoom Poker.

Now, as you know, Zoom Poker hit PokerStars in beta a few days ago and has already become a massive hit. Pokerstars has been adding some higher limits, and the games almost always have waits. That will get better as PokerStars rolls out more games. It's best you're prepared in advance.

With that in mind, I've cobbled together a few thoughts from the smart people out there. This is not an in-depth strategy guide, but if you're a beginner and just hearing of the Zoom Poker format, it might do you well to have a quick-read-through.

Getting to know Zoom

Zoom is fast. It's for people who don't like to wait. If you're finished playing a hand and don't want to wait around to see how it turns out for your opponents, the Fast Fold button will move you on to a different hand. Some estimates say you can increase your hands-per-hour by 400%.

You have a choice between three different kinds of animation as the old table disappears and the new one emerges. But, the important part is that you get a new hand as quickly as you want one. What's more, you can do this on more than one table at a time. It takes some focus to multi-table so quickly, but there are people out there who are good at it. You can be, too.

Forming a strategy

If you're used to the game in which you have been sitting with the same opponents for the past 200 hands, here are some things to remember:

1) It's not anonymous, but it's closer. The simple fact is, in an old game, if you raised three times in a row, your opponents would start to notice. In Zoom Poker, in a player pool of 2,000 people, as you jump from table to table, it's not nearly as likely that people will pick-up on that short-term information you've been providing. That is not to say a keen player won't start to recognize your style over time, but in the short-term, you're protected.

2) What's good for the goose is also good for the Zoom Poker player. Or, put another way, just as you run rampant through the tables raising willy-nilly and feeling fantastic in your near anonymity, so do your opponents. Unless you click the "control" key as you fold (which keeps you around at a table to see how things turn out), you will have no way to know whether that four-bet was a bluff or designed to get you moving on to the next table. Some people will count on your inattention, so keep your eyes open.

3) Nitting it up is just fine, but you're still paying blinds, and with Zoom Poker, you're liable to be paying them even faster than before. If you sit all day folding and waiting for aces, you're going to be paying a lot of blinds. There are more playable hands out there, so play them.


A few tips

1) Play fewer tables than normal when you start playing Zoom Poker. You can only do so many things at once.

2) Check the lay of the land at every new table. Your position, the number of players at the table, and the the stack-sizes will be changing every few seconds. Train yourself to look for this data as soon as the tables move.

3) Remember: most players will be playing much tighter in Zoom Poker than they would in a normal ring game. Most estimates say players will play 5% fewer hands in full ring games and up to 7% fewer hands in six-max games. Adjust accordingly.

4) Beware the waiter in late position or the blinds. The player who didn't hit Fast Fold immediately and then decides to three- bet your early position raise should be watched carefully. He or she liked their hand enough to stick around and see what happened in early and middle positions.

5) File away everything you know about table selection for when you play other games. It's irrelevant in Zoom Poker. You're not searching out the fish. You're learning to beat the average style of Zoom Poker play.

6) Be prepared to endure some bankroll swings. You're playing a high-volume, action-packed game. If you don't have 45 buy-ins to a game, you're better off going down in limits. A good benchmark for playing Zoom Poker is 70 buy-ins. It's important to remember variance can be just as tough an opponent as the other players at the table.

The big blind anomaly

The only person who doesn't have the option to Fast Fold in Zoom poker is the big blind. He or she has to stick around until it's actually his or her turn. That tends to make a lot of players play the big blind a lot more loosely than players in normal ring games might. Keep that in mind.

The VIP benefit

Playing more hands per table means you will be earning more VIP Player Points. That means, you will climb though the PokerStars VIP ranks even faster. Freeroll tickets, bonuses, and free merchandise await you at the higher levels.

Finally, here's a video from Poker School Online that explains a few things you might not have picked up here.

For more information, visit the PokerStars Zoom Poker page.


Brad Willis
@BradWillis in PokerStars news