Monday, 4 April 2016

[Poker] Zoom vs Cash

Hey guys, just wanted to discuss this issue a bit. It's something I've been debating with myself for a while, and I think I've finally come to a conclusion about what's best for me, after chopping and changing for the past six weeks or so. Naturally, my sample size isn't massive enough to properly decide which is better for me in terms of results, but I have thought about it theoretically. I want to discuss both of them with both pros and cons and come to my conclusion.

Pros for Zoom - There are quite a lot of pros of Zoom. The first one is ease - it is very easy to sit at a table or four and start straight away without having to wait in any queues or join partially full tables. This leads me to my second pro - which for me is massive - when there is a decent pool size, you always play six handed. I really struggle adapting my game to shorter handed PLO and feel I play far too tight and straightforward. The third pro is that opponents will struggle to develop reads on you (of course this is a double-edged sword) and you can repeat exploitable plays without expecting to be exploited as much. Lastly, there is a certain consistency to Zoom. If I play 12 hands of normal tables compared to 4 Zoom tables, I'll see roughly the same number of hands per hour, but with Zoom I know I will always be playing 4 hands, whereas with normal tables, sometimes I'll be seeing 10 flops at once, and sometimes I'll be sitting on my arse.

Pros for Cash - The main one that everyone seems to be so keen on is table selecting. With Zoom, you sit where you're sat, and you can't control the opponents you're up against as much, whereas in normal cash tables you can take your time and choose the most profitable spots. The other major argument is that Zoom is very fish-friendly, in the sense that it allows impatient people just playing one table for fun to be selective about their hands preflop.

As you may have guessed by the relative size of the paragraphs, I've chosen to focus my efforts on Zoom. I truly think fast-fold poker is the way the game is going to go in the future with the player pool growing (and potentially growing much more as it becomes legal in more states across the US) and thus becoming more fishy. Zoom is a fish magnet for not only its fun, easy demeanor but also because its so much harder for regs to seek out the fish and exploit their weaknesses. While it is definitely more difficult, from playing 4 tables for significant hours with a group of fish in the pool, you build up a set of HUD stats on them, which can be a glancing way to identify fish fairly easily. Also, to compensate for the difficulty of note taking, I just make notes on players in hand review sessions through PT. This is much better for me as I can be more thorough and I'm not just frantically typing "4b KKxx xb wet boardjfnsdjfn" before the next table appears.  It is also something I doubt a lot of the "regs" at my current stakes do - I see the same people pretty much every day and over a few hundred hands on them they're usually significantly losing players who play the same style of game every hand because they don't think anyone is paying attention. The volume of these players will only increase across all of the stakes as both PLO and online poker in general grows. These past 4 days I've been very committed in going through every hand I play and making concise profitable notes on my hands and reading them before getting involved with an opponent, and playing 3 tables of PLO2Z stacked I've had this as my result; 

I do honestly feel a lot of the success I've had these past 4 days comes from my reads. I've been massively adapting my game to my opponents, calling a lot wider when appropriate and folding a lot tighter when appropriate. To anyone with any poker experience (or sense) this seems like a very obvious thing to do, but I think its even more important in Zoom, simply because nobody else is doing it at these stakes. If your opponents aren't at all adapting to you, you can adapt to your opponents completely, as they have no apparent variance in style. Of course, this isn't at all true for the higher stakes regs, but I'm not there yet, and I'm sure I'll come back with another discussion when I am. 

So, if we can identify the fish when we come across them, of which there are a higher amount per head than in normal tables in my experience, we may lose our preflop equity edge on them, but we keep our postflop edge. Considering equities run close preflop in PLO, we will never be absolutely crushing our opponent pre, and even if he is being very nitty, if you offered me the situation to play IP vs a nitty fish with a 45/55 preflop equity disadvantage with a solid set of notes/stats, I'd take it every time. This is a position I've found myself in a lot, playing in position with a smooth distribution hand against someone who cbets every flop and gives up on almost every turn, profiting from well timed floats. This is an especially advantageous spot for us, as if we were on a normal cash table, he may have the chance to adapt to us floating him on every flop, but as its Zoom, the chances of him recognising us and remembering this is much less, and if he is, we've probably mislabeled him as a fish. 

To summarise, I prefer Zoom, not only for the pros listed earlier, but also because of the reasons most people seem to dislike it. It is also definitely worth mentioning that because most of the better players prefer normal cash, this reduces the average player ability in the Zoom pool, thus increasing overall edge. 

Sorry for the longer post, I just felt this needed discussing considering deciding which I preferred was one of my goals. 

Hopefully see you next time! Seacombe

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