Feel the rush! Crush Rush Poker and win in a hurry

Full Tilt Poker pro Ben Jenkins reveals five key reasons why you should try Rush Poker – and how to crush the Rush while you’re at it

When Full Tilt Poker introduced Rush Poker in 2010 it was an instant hit with both pro and amateur players. In Rush Poker players don’t remain at a specific table, they’re assigned to a ‘pool’ of players instead. Whenever you fold your hand – which you can do even when the action isn’t on you – you will be instantly transferred to another table to play one more hand. It means the action is always fast and furious, you play many more hands per hour and, if you’re smart, increase your win rate significantly. To celebrate the release of the new Rush Poker app for iOS and Android, Full Tilt pro Ben Jenkins shows us how you can become a Rush Poker expert in five easy steps…

Play more hands, win more money

One of the best things about Rush Poker is that you can play so many more hands than you usually would, and this means that you can gain playing experience extremely quickly while constantly having decisions to make and being involved in the action. 

Of course, if you won an FTOPS you can grab a huge payday, have your name in lights and ship a gold jersey – the only problem is that winning an FTOPS is extremely hard to do! I have a higher percentage of winning days playing Rush Poker than tournaments. This is because variance isn’t as brutal in cash games and, especially playing Rush where I can play 5,000 hands a day (and there are some guys who do that before breakfast!), the long term can be realised much faster. I love the excitement and adrenaline rush of getting deep in a big tournament, but I’m aware as a professional it’s prudent to reduce my swings when I can and I find Rush Poker excellent for this.

Furthermore, the more hands you play the faster you will move up the VIP reward scheme ladders. Rush Poker makes achieving a Black Card – the top reward level – pretty easy to do, and with this comes a range of excellent benefits available from the Full Tilt Poker store.

Changing it up

In standard games you can build up a dynamic with the players on either side of you very quickly, but in Rush Poker these players are always changing and this is one of the biggest differences between standard and Rush Poker games. As a result it can be tough to build some of the fun aggressive dynamics you have in standard games, but I think this is far outweighed by the positives. 

For example, tables often collapse in standard games with some regs preferring not to play strong opponents so instead search for better seats with position on weaker players. With Rush Poker this problem doesn’t exist, because everyone is randomly assigned a new seat at the next available table. Over time everyone will have an equal opportunity to benefit from position on each other. For me it’s especially great since I’m too lazy to be constantly replacing collapsing tables!

In this respect Rush Poker is very fair, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be looking to enter pots with weaker players. Vigilance and note taking is rewarded as you should look for spots where you have both a positional and skill edge on an opponent, thus rewarding players who are not auto-folding based solely on the strength of their cards. As Sun-Tzu said, ‘So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.’ He would have made a formidable poker player…

A final, but important, warning here is to always check the chip stacks of your opponents since they are constantly changing; finding yourself forced into a bad raise/call or raise/fold is very frustrating.

Loose or tight?

As you are always in action and playing hands so quickly it can feel as though you are being raised and re-raised much more often than in a standard cash game, where you sit and watch your opponents battle it out after you’ve folded, enabling you to catch your breath and between skirmishes.

Also, the ability of all players has increased dramatically over the last few years. There are so many learning materials available (training sites, forums, friendship groups and literature to name a few) that players are learning faster and to a higher standard. As a result opponents are making less mistakes and this can make you feel under more pressure. When you combine this with the increased speed of the games I can see why people feel that poker is tougher and more aggressive. However, I would argue the reality is that Rush Poker actually plays slightly less aggressively than standard poker. 

The ever changing table positions means that it is unlikely the same players will remain on your left or right so it can take longer to build a sufficient dynamic with players, especially if you don’t play often, to justify getting in certain hands preflop, for example A-Q or T-T, that you would happily do so after a few orbits of aggressive three- and four-betting action in a standard game. The speed of the action and the ability to move onto another hand immediately can act as a deterrent to some people to
really fight for some pots that they should do.

Good spots to bluff

There are definitely some situations in Rush Poker where people don’t fight as hard for pots as they would do in a standard cash game – these are usually the small pots where nobody has very much. However, if you can spot and take advantage of them it should have you leaving the cashier’s cage a little happier each time.

I’ve noticed that sometimes players are just looking for the hand to be over so that they can move onto the next one, this is usually people that are looking for action or the tighter, less creative players hoping to find a big hand round the corner to get paid with. This is an occurrence unique to Rush Poker, for in standard games players would expect to have to see the rest of the hand play out and are usually less care-free about moving on.

In these situations timing tells can be found. When people make it clear that they have weak to moderate hands in small pots a pot-sized bet or two will take it down a very large amount of the time, and a little diligence can net a nice profit.

There are also some obvious preflop tendencies in some players’ strategies you can look to exploit. An obvious one is that a players fold to three-bet percentage is too high. If you notice this then you should start three-betting them preflop and force them to adjust or keep leaking chips to you.

People often assume that Rush Poker is a game of stealing – and in some respects it can be – as there are a large number of players on auto-pilot, but it is a largely misleading perspective too. The term ‘stealing’ is outdated now in cash games as players focus more on the profitability of certain actions in isolated spots, something that Rush Poker has really accentuated. For example, the range of hands you three-bet an individual with should adjust depending on how often he calls a three-bet. If they mostly fold or four-bet a lot then you won’t need to play postflop as often so A-x and K-x hands are stronger as they have blockers to the hands he will most likely defend. If your opponent peels too often you would rather have suited connectors and Broadway hands that can flop well and/or dominate them.

Against strong players who are focusing well on every decision then the game shouldn’t change in terms of how often you ‘steal’ or bluff, but against players on auto-pilot playing a tight range of hands, and eager to find another strong holding, you should look to fight for the smaller pots a little more as they will be giving up more often.

How important is tracking software?!

Tracking software can provide you with a lot of useful statistics, but it can also give you a lot of misleading information and there is a skill to distinguishing between the two. Unless you are very good at both setting up and reading a HUD then you will just be seeing how a player acts in a certain situation against the whole player pool, not specifically against yourself. Good players will make substantial adjustments down to who their opponent is. Furthermore, these statistics can be severely skewed from having a good/bad run of hands in certain situations, and variance can play tricks; a lot of useful statistics need a very big sample size to become reliable. In these situations tracking software can mislead you into making an incorrect decision you wouldn’t have made without it.

Personally, I believe that all information is worth having so on that basis I also try to take as many player notes as possible, which is easy to do through the Full Tilt client. I find notes very helpful in working out what your opponent is or isn’t capable of in more specific scenarios. These notes really help me to sharpen my ability to interpret the information presented by tracking software more appropriately. Having as much information as you can is good but interpreting it well and acting accordingly is still far more important.
Tracking software, like a nice sports car, is a lovely idea but if you don’t know how to use it properly then it can work against you, and I know many poker players that don’t use it at all and are very successful.

Do you have a bigger edge in Rush Poker?

Rush Poker does not radically change the fundamentals of the game that we already love. It’s true that dynamics can be harder to build and it would be reasonable to argue that if you aren’t worried about how many hands you are playing then you have more information at your disposal in a standard cash game. However, for me the speed in which hands come round, the constant action and the fairness of continually changing round positional advantage far outweigh this and I really enjoy it, preferring it over standard games. Just remember: There are many ways to skin a cat.

One of the best things about poker is there are so many variables in play that should influence your decision, so it is often hard to ascertain the best course of action. Usually, there are many that make good logical sense and that will show a profit over the long run. Rush Poker is no different – there is no one winning formula, people approach problems from various angles, suffer deviating emotive responses and it is about finding a way to win that suits you. Yet as ever, nothing beats experience. Learn from your mistakes, observe carefully, make smart and logical adaptations and you will give yourself a good chance of coming out on top.

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