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Speed Poker

Poker has long been the subject of innovation, as demonstrated by the countless game variations developed in casinos and home games over the centuries. More recently, online poker has helped introduce a number of new styles and rules, of which speed poker has become one of the more prominent. The format now lies behind several televised poker events, including the Poker Dome Challenge and the World Speed Poker Open, where players have just 15 seconds to move on their hand.

Online, speed poker players change tables every time they fold. Each player enters the player pool, and is automatically allocated to a free seat with every folded hand to keep the action moving. There’s none of the usual waiting around for others to make their moves, and the result is often two to four times more frequent hands than in a standard game. This is good for keeping the action moving, but it can also help you qualify for VIP and loyalty rewards at a faster rate.

Everyone moves quickly, and when you’re out, you switch to another table for the next hand. This means you often have no knowledge of your opponents before you play each hand, and little time to assess their individual styles as players are constantly cycling through a number of different tables.

In terms of the rules played, more often than not speed poker is played around Texas Hold’em. While other variants have been given the speed treatment, it’s generally used for Texas Hold’em play.

Adjusting Strategy for Speed Poker

With speed poker, you can’t really afford to wait for the nuts — your strategy needs to be all about getting maximum value from each hand dealt. While you cycle through hands at a much faster rate, you also end up paying more blinds more often, so it makes sense to try to push for more frequent steals and uncontested pots, even when you’re sitting with weaker hands in pocket.

Remember, you don’t know much about your opponents and they don’t know much about you. So it all comes down to pushing your hand as far as it merits, and picking up some steals along the way to minimize your total costs.

Speed poker players generally have 15 seconds to make their move, with 30-second extensions available as per the specific house rules. It’s not always a good move to slowplay bets, since you’re not trying to bluff or communicate anything to other players. Your strategy should instead focus on playing the best cards, and continuation betting on moderate hands where you stand a chance of scooping.

A Word of Caution

When you’re playing at speed, you need to take steps to limit your payout. Constantly posting blinds and folding weak hands won’t cut it — you’ll quickly run through your pot this way, and the good cards might not fall nearly as regularly as you need them to. Instead, you need to play up strong hands, as well as be looking to cash in on uncontested or continuation hands — this builds in scope to be covering your standing losses from playing more hands, while allowing you to profit on those hands that justify it.

Steals and bluffs are your friend, in an environment where you have little information on your opponents and they have little information on you, so don’t be afraid to push your luck every once in a while. Of course, other players might be doing this too, so you might still end up in showdowns with little to present. As long as you keep turning over hands with this strategy and playing sensible bets, you can put yourself in the driving seat for a profitable sitting.

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