I've been thinking a bit about Rush poker (and playing a bit, too :-). Mister Multi has also been playing the game and offering me some pearls of wisdom on the subject. Here are a few random thoughts from him and myself on this evil Full Tilt form of poker called Rush:
Exploitation. One thing that's pretty interesting about having a constantly changing table of opponents is that you can play a style of poker that would be otherwise very exploitable... and do so profitably. Take bet sizing for instance. Lately, I'm making a lot of min-raise opens with so-so hands to steal the blinds. If I get resistance, I fold. When I do this, I've risked the minimum to win the blinds, didn't get them, and have moved on. In contrast, when I get a strong hand in late position, I tend to open raise for 3x or even pot to get more money into the center of the table. If I get resistance, great. If not, I still win the blinds. Similarly, I can c-bet smaller when I miss the flop, and bet more when I hit. Maximize gain, minimize risk. At a "normal" poker table, this kind of amateur play would be picked up on by almost everyone within a few laps of the table. At at Rush table, it's really hard for the typical player to catch wind of it.
Time of Day. This one comes from Mr. Multi, and I have to say that now that I've been paying attention to it, I think he's on to something. The Rush hold'em tables seem to be a LOT tougher during the afternoon than at night. Dunno what explains it, but looking through my PT3 stats, it's clear that I tend to make money in the later afternoons and evening hours, and I tend to lose in the afternoons. MM has reported similar results. In other words, don't play Rush at lunch in the US.
Going South. One cool thing about Rush is that you can lock in profits if you're feeling nervous. Taking money off the table in a normal poker game (i.e., "going south") is almost never allowed, but it's kosher in Rush. I was up $50 in profit ($75 stack size at $25NL table) today, so I simply left the game and then came immediately back in at $25, thereby "banking" $50 in profit. Now, there are mathematically sound reasons to keep your stack size as large as possible at a normal table, but it also means you're forced to play deep stack poker, which is not really my forte. There's also another reason, which is listed next.
Stack Size. Getting reads on players is tough, but one thing that seems fairly reliable is stack size. If a player has a smallish stack size relative to the normal buy-in amount, he or she is probably not a very good player. Sure, there are short-stack specialists who are very good, working on a very tight, very aggressive strategy, but at the low stakes games these folks are few and far between. If someone has a short stack, I assume they're bad. Good players tend to keep the stack up at the max buy-in for the table. Similarly, if the opp has a larger than normal stack, I assume they're good/tricky/tough. This is obviously not an infallible rule, but it's still surprisingly accurate. I also think that some of the better players are aware of this trait, ergo another reason to occasionally go south with your winnings; i.e., if you have a big stack, the good players will not treat you like a bad player, which is something you actually want to happen.
Stack Size 2. Another thing to pay a lot of attention to is short stacks to your left. When set-mining, you have to look at the implied odds you're getting based on the raising opp's stack size, but you also have to pay attention to any short stacks left to act after you. If there are 2 or more left to act, you might be better off just folding that pair of fives. You're screwed if/when they 3-bet shove all-in on you after you've cold-called the original raiser. I've seen this short-stack squeeze play a lot more in Rush than normal hold'em.
Stealing. Again, another pearl from Mr. Multi: If it folds to you in one of the last three seats at a 9-handed table, or one of the last 2 at a 6max table, steal. No, make that STEAL! Doesn't matter what your two cards are. Half the players have already Quick Folded and/or selected the check-fold button in the big blind. Steal like Bernie Madoff and you will be rewarded. Because of the Quick Fold tendencies of most players, you have a much higher probability of making a successful steal in Rush than normal poker games.
Darwin in Action. The games were very soft the first few days, but as the fish have died off and/or returned to more sane action of normal hold'em, the percentage of sharks has risen. The games are tougher to beat these days, plain and simple. Now, don't get me wrong. There are still plenty of fish in the Rush sea, but you really have to play better poker this week than you did just last week to stay profitable.
Extreme Poker. Mr. Multi says, "Play extreme position poker. Fold almost every hand in early position [at a full ring Rush table]. Call or raise speculative hands in late. Raise when opening. Never limp. Represent the flop. C-bet every chance you get, but fold to resistance. Fold your big aces to stiff aggression. Steal."
Frequent Player Points. One cool thing about Rush is how damn fast you accumulate FPPs. I bought my way into an 1800-pt SnG yesterday based on just one week's worth of Rush, and I'll probably be able to do it again next week.
Number of Tables. For me, one table of Rush is a tad too slow, but four is simply too fast. I've found a sweet spot at two tables, but occasionally I can open three and still play well. Two tables played at once in Rush is 500 hands an hour. Sounds like a lot (and it is!) but you can slow down easily and play a tough hand at "normal speed" if you want. If things get too hectic when you've got a tricky hand to play at one table, just sit out at the other. You're not going to be penalized by missing the blinds, having to post late blinds, etc. Rush simply sits you out and then re-enters you randomly at the next table when you're ready. To get 500 hands per hour at normal tables, you'd have to open 5-10 tables and play them simultaneously. Now, I can play 10 normal tables profitably at once, but Rush makes it easier to achieve, and with less stress. The downside, of course, is no HUD at Rush, which makes it less poker and more of a monkey video game...
Bluffing. Bluffing is highly overrated in Rush. There simply is little reason to do it. I tend to 3-bet out of the blinds if a LP person open raises (especially if they min-raise), but, generally speaking, I'm betting hard when I have it, and soft when I don't. The same can be said of the average villain. As MM says, "when they bet, they have it. [Ask yourself] do you have a better hand?" If not, fold.
Note Taking. Because of the speed and the fact that the table "disappears" once you fold, it's tough to take notes in a Rush game, but there are some tricks to writing down player notes. For instance, you can open the note dialog box *before* you fold, which leaves it open. Then you can view the last hand button to see how the hand played out. I've read that other folks go through their PT3 data afterward, replaying hands, and then editing the full tilt user notes file (located in the FT root directory, and named [your username].xml
Omaha. I've said it once, and I'll say it again. Rush was tailor-made for Omaha. I'm still learning the game (I tend to give back much of my daily hold'em profits in the process of learning Omaha; sigh), but it seems very obvious to me that a game like Omaha, which requires you to play extremely tight and wait for good opportunities (and that normally is played out at half the speed of hold'em) is ideally suited to a revved-up version where you can simply play your own two cards and the board texture. Fold, fold, fold...... and then ram and jam when you've got a playable hand that hits. Sounds almost easy, doesn't it? I wish.
My fingers hurt from typing.
All-in for now...