It’s not every day that a new poker format actually catches on but enough players seem to be flocking to Fusion Poker on PokerStars that it actually might stick.
The early returns on the game are that it’s quite swingy but it’s also attracting a number of inexperienced players so it’s potentially lucrative.
It’s taken players years to reach the current level of play in both Hold’em and PLO so Fusion Poker represents some new strategies for both new and old players alike.
We’ll break down some of the simplest ways to improve your win-rate at the up-and-coming poker variant.
What is Fusion Poker?
You begin with two cards (just like Hold’em) but you’ll get an additional card on the flop and one more on the turn.
If you get to the river you must use two of your cards to make the best five-card poker hand. This differs from Hold’em where you can potentially use just one of your hole cards to make a five-card hand (a flush for instance).
Because you get more draws in Fusion Poker, you’ll find that you frequently hit bigger hands.
The game is played with a Pot-Limit structure, which means you can only raise the amount that’s already in the pot. That means that if the pot contains $100 and you’re opening the betting then you can only bet $100.
This structure is good for players who don’t enjoy having their opponent shove all-in frequently and the game is better suited to players who like to stay in a hand and attempt to hit their draws.
Interestingly PokerStars only allows set buy-ins for Fusion Poker, which range from $3 all the way up to $1,000.
Set buy-ins mean that players can’t buy-in for a short stack or a huge one. It’s always going to be the exact same number so everyone has the same chance. You can top up at any point you want.
To summarize here’s the Fusion Poker bullet points:
If you’re just starting out at Fusion Poker here are seven simple tips that should improve your game.
1. Big Pocket Pairs Aren’t Quite as Strong
There are a couple reasons for that. First of all you’re opponents are going to get more draws and that means they have a better chance of cracking a big pair with hands like two-pair and straights. Second of all you aren’t able to make huge overbets because Fusion has a Pot-Limit structure so you’re somewhat limited when it comes to your raising sizes.
The bottom line is that Fusion Poker is a drawing game and pocket aces or kings aren’t a drawing hand. That doesn’t mean you should fold them (in fact you should still bet pre-flop) but you’ve got to be extremely careful from that point on.
2. Connected Cards Have More Value
The flip side of big pocket pairs like aces and kings losing value is that connectors like 8-7 suited or 6-5 have more value.
The reason is that you get two more potential draws to hit your big hands. Suddenly if you have an open-ended straight draw you’re got two more cards to hit your hand. Keep that in mind when you see connectors.
Interestingly suited hands actually lose some value because you have to use two of your hole cards at showdown. That means you can actually block your own flush outs.
3. Expect to See Bigger Hands
If you’re going to play Fusion Poker for any amount of time then you’ll notice that some of your strongest Hold’em hands get beaten on a regular basis.
That’s because Fusion Poker players have more chances to hit their hands and they are actually protected by the Pot-Limit betting structure.
You’ll notice that sets and big pairs get trounced much more often then in Hold’em. If you get to the river and there’s a straight on the board (which their frequently is) don’t be shocked if someone has it.
Be particularly careful with your sets and two-pairs because straights and full houses are more common in Fusion Poker.
4. Play to the Nuts
It’s definitely OK to go all-in on a draw in Fusion Poker but make sure it’s the best one.
One of the best (worst?) ways to completely ruin yourself is by getting all-in against an opponent with the third-best flush while they have the nut-flush. You are effectively drawing dead and that’s pretty hard to do most of the time because everyone has so many outs.
Nut straight draws and flush draws are even more valuable in Fusion Poker.
5. Fusion Poker has More Variance than PLO
This is a relatively simple concept when you think about it: In Pot-limit Omaha you know exactly what your four hole cards from the very beginning and you can act accordingly.
Meanwhile in Fusion Hold’em you’ve got no idea what the next two cards will be and you’ve got to keep that in mind.
It’s also the reason that players will sometimes showdown the most unexpected hands on the river because they picked them up on the flop or turn draw.
Just keep that in mind when you’re buying into Fusion Poker because it’s going to be very common to win or lose a few buy-ins in a short amount of time.
6. Calling is Better Than in Hold’em
Calling bets with no regard in No-Limit Hold’em can be a disastrous proposition because aggressive opponents will simply throw all their chips at you and essentially force you to fold marginal hands.
In Fusion Poker you’re opponents are essentially capped out because they can only bet the pot. That can be a large amount but you know the exact amount your opponent will be allowed to bet on the turn or the river.
That’s why you’ll often see PLO pros call several streets without even thinking about it. It’s because they are protected from their opponent throwing 500 big blinds in the pot.
7. Bluffs are Harder in Fusion
It’s much harder to bluff in PLO compared to No-Limit Hold’em and that holds true for Fusion Poker as well.
In Fusion you’re restricted by the Pot-Limit betting structure so you can’t make huge over-bet bluffs to chase opponents from pots.
Players essentially get cost-certainty when it comes to how big the pot will be on subsequent streets so they can call accordingly.
In addition players are going to have even more draws so they will be less likely to fold.
Conversely you can add the odd bluff to your range in Fusion Poker because it’s so unexpected. Players will sometimes fold extremely strong hands simply because it’s so common for huge hands to pop up.
Use your own best judgement and try to get a good read on a player in those situations.
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Odds Shark Staff Fri, Apr 29, 3:28pmPoker
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