PokerStars Fast Fold Zoom Launch Delayed Due to Technical Difficulties
PokerStars has announced that players in New Jersey and Michigan can now play “Zoom,” a fast-fold poker variant, however technical issues have temporarily stalled play. The game had been popular internationally since its debut in 2012, but was not available in the US until the company relaunched in the country in 2015 following a Supreme Court ruling. The lack of a sufficient player base in New Jersey, Michigan, and Pennsylvania had previously made Zoom impossible. However, the recent merger of PokerStars New Jersey and Michigan under the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement has grown traffic enough to permit Zoom play, at least temporarily. The trial’s success will depend on the number of interested players, with PokerStars offering double rewards points for the first ten minutes of play to those who help get the game started.
PokerStars adds its fast fold poker option—Zoom—to a market previously filled only by BetMGM’s FastForward poker.
Zoom launched on PokerStars combined New Jersey/Michigan platform January 23, but technical issues have stalled play.
Zoom is expected to be popular with both high-volume players as well as those looking to take advantage of PokerStars bonus offerings for players early to the table.
PokerStars players in New Jersey and Michigan should now be able to play “Zoom” a fast-fold poker variant. However, technical issues stalled play shortly after debut.
In an emailed announcement, PokerStars said Zoom poker would be available as of 9 p.m., Jan 23. This poker variant has been internationally popular since it debuted in 2012. However, that was one year too late for US players, who lost access to the global dot-com PokerStars website in April of 2011.
PokerStars relaunched in the US in 2015, following a US Supreme Court ruling permitting in-state gambling. However, the PokerStars’ New Jersey launch lacked many of the features of its global arm, including Zoom. Asked in 2016 why that was, the company clarified that it wasn’t a regulatory issue. Rather, it’s that Zoom games need a certain amount of traffic to be sustainable.
Essentially, New Jersey lacked a sufficiently large player base to make Zoom possible on its own. The same was true of Michigan and Pennsylvania, where PokerStars has subsequently launched.
The recent merger of PokerStars New Jersey and Michigan following the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement has grown traffic sufficiently to permit Zoom play, at least for a limited time. The PokerStars announcement cautions that the games will only be available temporarily, though it doesn’t specify a duration for the trial. Presumably, it will depend upon its initial popularity.
Pennsylvania players will still be without such an option for now. Their best hope is that their state will be the next to link up with the others in the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement.
PokerStars Zoom Play
The minimum buy-in for the PokerStars’ New Jersey/Michigan Zoom trial is $2, and the maximum is $200. PokerStars did not specify stakes, but Zoom allows buy-ins of 40x to 100x the big blind. The buy-in range, therefore, seems to imply a stake range from $0.02/$0.05 to $1/$2.
The trial’s success will depend mainly on the number of interested players. Similarly, there’s the chance that its games could stall due to a lack of players. Therefore, to boost participation, PokerStars is offering double rewards points for the first ten minutes of play to the players who help get the game started. Ten minutes of fast-fold poker can add up to a lot of hands, so that is not an insignificant bonus.
This is not the first time PokerStars has opened Zoom pools in the US market. The network has launched the game variant in New Jersey twice previously — once a couple of months after going live in the state, and four years later in June 2020. However, both launches were short-lived and had to be pulled due to a lack of enough liquidity.
However, PokerStars US players are no strangers to the format. While the operator does not offer Zoom cash games, it runs Zoom tournaments from time to time, especially as part of a tournament series.
In the ongoing PSPC Online series — the first-ever series to run since the merger of PokerStars NJ & PokerStars MI — four tournaments are being run using this format, two of which are offered in the bounty format and one as a heads-up.
The PSPC Online Series spanning the MI-NJ network runs until January 30 with total guarantees of $2.5 million. So far, the series has paid out over $1.5 million with at least $1 million in guaranteed prizes still up for grabs.
Second Operator to Launch a Fast Fold Poker Option in the US
PokerStars now becomes the second operator in the regulated US market to offer a Fast Fold Poker variation. BetMGM Poker runs a fast-fold version under the name FastForward in all three of its states: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. However, games are often empty, and therefore they only run during peak hours on busier days. The FastForward games are available from buy-ins starting from $10 to up to $50.
WSOP — another regulated operator in the US — has yet to offer the fast fold game format, despite one of its networks sharing player pools between three states. Whether that is because of regulatory reasons or something else, it is likely to change if WSOP MI becomes part of its existing tri-state shared liquidity on the WSOP Network comprising New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware.
How to Play Zoom Poker
Fast Fold Poker—known on PokerStars as Zoom—is a high-action online pokergame where tables change every round. Instead of playing at one table with the same players, you move every round and play against different players each time.
International players, or Americans playing on online websites before Black Friday, may have experienced something like Zoom under a different name. The now-defunct Full Tilt Poker invented the fast fold concept in early 2010. That version was referred to as Rush Poker.
Fast Folder Poker is a concept that only works online. Rather than sit players in designated seats they join a pool – one pool per stake level.
Tables only last for a single hand before breaking. Players face a new selection of opponents each hand. Rather than remain at the table to watch the rest of the hand when a player folds, the website whisks them off to a new table, formed from whichever other players have recently folded. Additionally, with the Fast Fold option, players don’t have to wait until their turn to fold and move on.
This is precisely why the game needs a lot of players to work: the more players are playing, the more tables and opportunities to move. If there aren’t enough other players ready for their next hand, there will be a wait, thus undermining the gameplay.
Why Zoom is Preferred by High-Volume Players
For some, fast fold poker games like Zoom can feel robotic, as they don’t allow players to learn their opponents. However, high-volume players often find it intriguing. In 2019, PokerStars limited the number of tables players can play simultaneously. The company set the limit to four tables, placing caps to rein in winning players who would previously play at a dozen or more low-stakes tables at once rather than moving up in stakes.
The good news for such gamblers is that Zoom poker is not part of that limit. The game is still limited, but players can simultaneously play up to eight tables, because Zoom tables count triple. Players can combine fast tables and regular tables. So, if a player is already playing four regular tables, they can add up to six fast tables. While possible, it will take a lot of work to keep up with the number of hands.
For perspective: Poker players in retail casinos get to see about 30 hands per hour. Online players at conventional tables can play up to 80 or 90 hands. However, the fast-fold format allows players to see 200 or more hands per hour.
Tips for Winning at Fast-Fold Poker
Remember, fast fold poker is still the same game as “normal” poker. Common strategies for employed by successful players at low-stakes fast-fold poker include:
Players generally play tighter, particularly in three-bet pots.
Position is still as crucial to success.
Steal liberally from the late position.
Three-bet late position should raise lighter than you usually would.
Take plenty of stabs on the flop with continuation bets.
Size bets smaller for button steals and continuation bets.
Unfortunately, the initial PokerStars Zoom launch did not start of well, and technical issues forced the operator to remove the game from the lobby.
Players on social media reported problems with games not loading even after meeting the minimum number of players required to start the table.
At the time of writing, no Zoomcash game tables are currently deployed, and the Zoom tab has been removed from the website. Hopefully the game will be back online as soon as the soon as PokerStars resolves the issue.