There's no doubt that the fast fold poker certainly makes for a good business model. Per Hildebrand, founder of InstaDeal which offers Speed Poker as either a complete network solution or back office integration explains how the rake increase is substantial. 'Players are dealt 3-5 times more hands per hour compared to traditional online poker,' he says. 'Needless to say the rake revenues become substantial and can be compared to every player multi-tabling at your site.'
Hildebrand believes the format is the key to unlocking the recreational market. 'The recreational player's biggest mistake is to play too many weak starting hands,' says Hildebrand. 'This is usually because of boredom even though he may realise it's a bad long-term strategy. As he is dealt a new hand within seconds when playing Insta-deal, there is no longer a need for that type of player to “play every hand”.' And because players join a 'pool' and not a specific table, the 'bum-hunting' favoured by many a shark is no longer a legitimate strategy. 'Players can't chase players they wish to play with,' adds Hildebrand.
Lee Jones, PokerStars Home Games manager points to the stats from extensive Zoom beta test conducted in March and April which saw an astounding 300 million hands dealt. At one point, PokerScout.com reported that 25% of all cash games on PokerStars were being dealt on Zoom.
'It's a very simple concept, as the best ideas often are,' says Lydia Melton, Microgaming's head of network games. Because of the speed and excitement it may be more attractive to new poker players (including casino players) than other variants have proved to be in the past.'
But playing four times the hands also opens up the ability to multiply the bad decisions by four. And if the game is marketed at the casual player, it's safe to assume that there will be more bad decisions than good in the mix. In other words, casual players could also lose four times quicker than normal. It's a conundrum that Cutler's been wrestling with. 'If you've got a casual player who throws €40-50 a months at poker and they play usually about seven days in that period, then he could also easily burn through that €50 in a very short period of time,' he says.
For industry analyst Kim Lund, the deeper flaw with fast-fold lies in its unrealised potential. 'It's a huge step forward for online poker but so far we've only seen the most obvious application: do everything as before, just enable players to play more hands,' he says.
Lund says he'd like to see a more imaginative use of the underlying technology. Given his involvement with not too dissimilar products like Playhem Poker, Lund is reluctant to reveal how he would evolve the technology, but fully believes that if operators and developers start thinking outside the box, issues such as speed of losing won't be a problem. 'Loss speed is a very conceptual idea,' he says. 'The speed at which someone is losing say $20 is likely not the main reason why in the short-term they decide to reload or not. Change the fun factor and you can get away with an increase in loss speed.'
But Cutler is confident that could all be about to change. 'Where fast-poker really becomes a champion is in the mobile arena. That really is the true power of fast poker,' he says. 'Cash games and tournaments are too slow for the kinds of sessions associated with mobile usage and fast fold removes that issue.'