Everyone has their favourite format of the game and for me there is no contest. In ZOOM cash games, you do not choose your own seat with a permanent selection of opponents, instead you join a pool where you are randomly dealt into a hand with five other players. Each time you fold, you are instantly placed on a new table. Here are some reasons why I personally love ZOOM cash games and would choose them all day long over regular cash tables.
1. There is No Messing About to Find a Game
One of the most annoying aspects of playing cash games in the pre-ZOOM era was the eternal battle to find a table. Waiting lists have always made me shudder. At some point a table looks juicy so 18 regulars pile on to the waiting list and by the time they get a seat, the table has died as these players only want to play with weaker players. What a waste of time!
I remember sitting down at tables that supposedly contained four players to find all four sitting out, waiting for someone unknown to join because they were all scared to play one another. They would sit back in, play a few hands with me, realise that I was not a beginner, and sit back out. This manual table selection was annoying enough, but then there were also many players running seating script programs that have now rightly been banned.
In ZOOM games there is none of this messing around. If you want to play poker, you click a button and off you go. This is how gaming should be in the age of technology.
2. ZOOM Eliminates Sniping
A truly unethical poker practice that existed for a long time even at the low stakes, and still exists to some extent today is sniping. In other words, regular players, who were usually semi-competent, but never great, would wait around all day, occupying empty tables in the hope that a weaker player would sit with them. Snipers label a weaker opponent who is probably just playing for fun and follow him around wherever he goes. If the player moves up to the next stakes, these snipers will hop into the game to take a shot at him.
In my opinion, there is no room for this vulture behaviour – it ruins the integrity of the game and makes poker players look like hustlers instead of skilled-competitors. ZOOM eliminates this ugly practice. You will play the same number of hands on average with all players in the pool and so your only edge will come from your ability to play cards, not your ability to stalk people in the lobby.
3. More Hands per Hour
For the professional and the serious amateur, alike, it is important to put in volume to build a bankroll and ascend through the stakes. Since the professional wants to make a good living from the game, and since the amateur does not have time to log eight hours of play a day, ZOOM is the perfect way to increase volume while minimising time spent playing. This gives the professional more time to study the game and take breaks, while allowing the amateur the ability to make progress in the game without devoting every ounce of his free time to it.
Playing two tables of Zoom will yield you close to 500 hands per hour – this is around 15-16 times more hands that you will play in a full-ring cash game in the casino or local cardroom.
4. It’s Less Personal
I distinctly remember one night about eight years ago now when I was playing at a table with a very angry and vocal player, who spoke notably little English! Because he was having a losing session, he decided to demonise his opponents and wage an all-out verbal war on us. Every time I won as pot from him, he ranted: ‘DIE RAT’ ‘DIE PIG’ into the chat. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been called worse than a rat before and pigs are quite admirable animals, but this sort of behaviour puts a sour taste on the beautiful game of poker.
In a ZOOM pool, you can still type abuse in the chat, but your opponents will be gone from the table momentarily as it ceases to exist, and a new table is made full of different players in its place. Moreover, it’s much harder to form a vendetta against someone when you only play one or two hands with them each session. In larger ZOOM pools, you simply don’t encounter the same opponent very often – there’s no time to form a grudge.
5. Less Down Time
One of the most boring elements of regular cash games are when your are card dead and must sit back and watch pots going on around you. Maybe you end up loading up a video to watch or a game to play on the side. In Zoom, these distractions are not even a temptation due to the fast and furious action that keeps you occupied. Fold one hand and get dealt another one – there is no time for side activities that detract from focusing on the game.
6. It Tests your Theory
There is a common misconception that ZOOM is simply a case of playing against unknowns and being readless. If you are observing your opponents carefully and taking notes in the note box, then this is far from true. On the other hand, you will be in many more pots with unknowns than a regular cash game player is used to. This means that understanding both the theory of the game, and how the average player at your limit plays different situations is very important.
Because I coach the game, write books about it, and am fascinated by poker theory in general, I quite enjoy not fighting an exploitative war of ‘he thinks, I think…’ Getting to apply strategies that work well in theory and against the population is also satisfying and the exploitative battles will still come as you build up reads from playing more and more in the ZOOM pool.
Of course, ZOOM is not for everyone and players who mainly derive enjoyment out of gathering and using reads might prefer to stick with regular cash games. I do think, however, that ZOOM games will become more and more the norm in the years to come and for good reason.
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