PartyPoker’s entry into fast-fold poker debuted for real-money today at micro-stakes. Along with 6-max tables, there have also added a fast-fold HU player pool.
The “FastForward” site follows much the same format as other fast-fold products. It allows up to 4 entries per player, a “Fast Forward” button for folding and going to the next hand, and the familiar slide animation to switch between tables.
The idea has been discussed at length in poker forums, with many suggesting it could “fix” heads-up games. However, it’s never really been trialed—Full Tilt’s Rush Poker didn’t have it, nor does PokerStars’ Zoom. Microgaming does have a microstakes HU “blaze” table in its lobbies, although doesn’t seem to gain traffic.
To proponents, it would offer a solution to a common problem with heads-up lobbies: Dozens of players sitting waiting to play a recreational player, and professionals choosing not to play one-another. Such game selection—referred to derogatorily as “bum-hunting”—is considered by some to be predatory and gives a poor impression in the lobby. To the poker rooms, it means less hands played, and less rake.
Fast-fold heads-up lobbies could resolve this, forcing strong players to play against each other. Some suggest that standard cash heads-up tables should be removed entirely, and replaced with only Zoom tables. PokerStars has commented in the past that it is “seriously considering” Zoom-only tables at high stakes for all games.
Critics say that one-hand only heads-up removes a lot of the skill and enjoyment in playing heads-up. Building up a “history” with a player over a period of many hands while adjusting to exploit and deceive your opponent is a factor that entices people to play heads-up poker. Some have suggested a compromise, whereby players play a set number of hands before fast-folding on to the next opponent.
Party has tried innovations before with the heads-up tables, both by restricting the number of heads-up tables available and by being one of the first to experiment with anonymous tables. But neither measure ultimately encouraged more action, and some say it had the opposite effect intended.
It will be interesting to note its success, and poker rooms like PokerStars will certainly look on with interest.
Correction: When the article was first published, it stated that PartyPoker were the first to try the concept. In fact, it appears Microgaming also has a microstakes HU “blaze” lobby. Article updated to reflect that fact. Thanks Andrew!