It’s been several years since I’ve written about playing poker on your Mac, but a new feature at FullTilt called Rush Poker has me excited enough to do so today. Rush Poker is, in many ways, a huge leap forward in adopting the game to the computer, and in some ways it’s the first truly significant change.
Let’s start with some background, though, as I do obsess about context. Up until now, there have been a few specific advantages of playing poker on your computer.
- You can play whenever you want, in whatever state of dress you can manage.
- You can play many, many more hands than you can live, which is one reason so many Internet kids have become successful in live tournaments — they have more experience because they’ve played so many more hands in a shorter period of time.
- You can play multiple tables at one time, and change tables whenever you want.
- You can use heads-up-display software to track your own play and the play of your competitors (look for a review of the wonderful Poker Copilot for Mac soon).
- Math is often disproportionately important in online play compared to live play, for those so inclined.
- The computer dealers in online play are, more or less, infallible.
Of course, there are some upsides to playing live, too:
- Live poker is FAR more social, be it in a home game, a card room, or a casino.
- For many there is the visceral excitement of handling the cards, the chips, in the feel of the felt.
- You have more time to think (Internet play is usually much faster).
- For those so inclined, the art of reading people can be a big part of live play.
- Live play is, by and large, much, much easier than playing on the Internet, for a variety of reasons.
These differences aside, Internet poker has still mostly been a virtual representation of live play. It’s the same sort of tables, the same game structures (though there are more games types in the online poker rooms than in any live card room), the same betting…it’s the same game, just in a virtual setting.
What Rush Poker In a Nutshell
Rush Poker changes that, and like I said above, it’s the most fundamental change yet that actually takes advantage of the fact that we’re playing the game on a computer! In Rush Poker, rather than sitting down at a specific table to play, you instead join a pool of many other players — sometimes hundreds of other players.
When you fold a hand (or the hand is over if you went to the showdown), your table is dissolved, and you get taken to a new table that is formed of other players that have just folded. Instantly. If that didn’t sink in immediately, take a moment and think about it (or watch the video I embedded below).
What that means is that you don’t have to wait for your table’s hand to be completed before you get dealt new cards. You can instantly start a new hand with other players from your pool, and you can keep doing this until you get a hand you want to play.
This has several benefits:
- It makes it easier to play a tight game because you don’t experience any of that “I haven’t had good cards in forever, so I’m going to play cold-cap this seven-deuce, damnit!” boredom.
- You can play even more hands per hour, which further accelerates your learning process (and accumulates FullTilt points that you can trade for merchandise faster).
- You don’t play the same players every hand — This is a double-edged sword, though, as it means that only your best opponents are likely to learn much about your play, but it also means you have to be on your toes to remember your opponents, too.
The biggest thing, though, is how many more hands you can play, but let me offer some numbers for context.
In live play, most casinos expect their dealers to deal an average of about 37 hands per hour for Limit poker…if they’re good. Clearly that’s situational. A really loose game will be slower, and No Limit or Spread Limit games tend to be even slower as it often takes longer for each player to complete his or her action.
In a normal online game, most tables deal significantly more hands per hour, from 60-120ish. That’s a huge increase, but it pales in comparison to Rush Poker, where each table (as represented by however many tables one player sits at a time) can see 190-290 hands per hour.
A screenshot of FullTilt’s Rush Poker pools. Note the number of players per pool, the number of hands per hour, and the pools named in red - those pools have professional players, which always attracts more players interested in going up against the pros!
Which will hopefully explain where the “Rush” in “Rush Poker” comes in. That’s a lot of poker, and you can multitable, too. In each pool, you can take up to four seats at one time for roughly 1,000 hands of poker per hour. Think about that: It would take a little more than 27 hours of playing in a live game to play 1,000 hands of poker.
Now, four tabling Rush Poker is not for the novice player, and it’s not something I recommend for many people, but it is doable (I’ve heard of some hard core Internet players four tabling in two different pools at the same time). For the vast majority of players, playing just one table of Rush Poker will be incredibly fast and fun.
Starter Tips for Playing Rush Poker
Let me offer some tips for doing so:
- If you’re going to play, do so without distractions. The hands come fast, and you want to be able to concentrate on what you are doing.
- If you’re playing for real money (Rush Poker is offered on the Play Money and Real Money versions of FullTilt), always play at a level you’re comfortable with. If you’re playing outside your bankroll, you’ll be prone to making more and worse mistakes. The higher you play, the better the competition is likely to be.
- Be physically comfortable when you play. Time can fly when you’re playing Rush Poker, and you don’t want physical discomfort to distract you.
- If you see particularly good or bad play, get used to taking (quick) player notes on your opponents so you can remember the next time. Because you see so many more opponents, it is harder to remember them. Player notes can help you to do so. But remember, you don’t have much time between hands to do take those notes, so be quick and concise.
- Turn off the animations, as they can a distraction. They’re great for getting the point across, as in the video below, but that’s a lot of motion every few seconds on your screen.
The reason I think this is such a big deal is because it’s the first major game change I’ve seen that does something that’s simply not possible in the real world. You can’t have 100 or 200 people in a big player pool doing the poker-equivalent of musical chairs every hand in the real world. Rush Poker is only possible on the computer, and that’s a very cool change.
There are other computer-only aspects of play out there - FullTilt’s continuously-shuffling deck, for instance, is a great security feature that isn’t possible or practical in the real world, but Rush Poker is an entirely new way to play the game, and one that makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons.
Rush Poker is currently available in Limit and No Limit games, and the No Limit games are the most popular. The site has been adding different levels of play every few weeks, and it started with the lowest-stake levels. On the Play Money side, the action starts at 5/10, and on the Real Money side, No Limit starts at US$0.02/$0.005 and goes up to $1/$2. There are three Fixed Limit levels: $1/$2 for full ring (nine players per table) and $0.25/$0.50 and $1/$2 for 6-Max (six players per table).
If you’re new to FullTilt, you can sign up through our affiliate program and a portion of the rake you pay to the site comes back to The Mac Observer. We’ve been using our affiliate programs to add more content to the site for many years, and since you’re going to pay the rake anyway…
The signup bonus for FullTilt is currently 100% up to $600. That means you’ll get a matching bonus of your first deposit of up to $600. Even if you only want to play for Play Money, you can use our affiliate link to sign up.
This video was posted to YouTube and offers a great demonstration of No Limit Rush Poker. Note that the soundtrack is…awful.