While the development of PokerStars’ Zoom Poker has been rumored for some time, the actual launch of Zoom Poker took some by surprise. Maybe it was because the major rooms were all obviously so far behind Full Tilt on the cloud poker front that it just started to seem like no one would every actually produce a competing product.
Whatever the reason, Zoom Poker is here now, and Full Tilt should be worried. According to a recent analysis by a leading online poker news site, Zoom Poker now accounts for an estimated one out of every four cash game hands played for real money on the Internet.
That’s a staggering number, and will especially surprise people who aren’t familiar with Zoom Poker. One group that’s likely to be unfamiliar are USA players, who can’t play at PokerStars. Players from the US are actually totally out in the cold when it comes to cloud poker, as none of the sites that still accept American players (like Carbon Poker or Americas Cardroom) have anything like Zoom Poker or Rush Poker.
As for mechanics, Zoom Poker is very similar to Rush; Zoom features random seating and a “fast fold” function that moves you instantly to the next hand. Tables are constructed on the fly from the total player pool, and players can occupy multiple spots in the pool.
Unlike Rush, Zoom Poker is quickly expanding, and may be deployed to the highest stakes PokerStars has to offer. Rush was capped at a fairly low limit and generally only saw player pools in the dozens at any given limit. Zoom is already taking up a huge chunk of the action at Stars, and that trend seems set to do nothing but accelerate for the near future.
Currently, Zoom is available for Texas Holdem and Omaha games; if PokerStars expands into other games it would mark completely new territory for cloud poker. Expect tournaments to be ahead of exotic games like mixed games and stud on the priority list, but don’t be surprised if the stray non-standard game shows up in beta testing before the end of 2013.