Not content with taking your money, the poker sites want to take your money faster. Speed poker is here, for those would are prepared to oblige them.
The big poker news last week was the acquisition of Full Tilt Poker by PokerStars, the world's biggest poker site, and one that had recently also "acquired" Rafael Nadal. Full Tilt has been in limbo since the Black Friday domain seizures, in spite of a promise of an Easter resurrection, among other things. At least one poker site, Absolute Poker, appears to have disappeared for good.
Another poker site that has shut down, more recently, is Hollywood Poker, though unlike Full Tilt not for any apparently sinister reason; the good news for its existing clients is that their accounts have been transferred seamlessly to RedKings.
Before it was shafted by the FBI and DoJ, and then the Alderney commission, Full Tilt had come up with rush poker, and now other poker sites are following suit. Recently, the UK site William Hill introduced speed poker, and is currently running a leaderboard. Paddy Power is offering speed poker, and Betfred is offering high speed poker. On the aforementioned PokerStars it is called zoom poker.
Currently these games are all or mostly No Limit Hold 'Em cash games, although doubtless others will be added in time, including tournaments. PokerStars is already offering Omaha, Omaha Hi/Lo, and Five Card Draw zoom games.
So what is the difference between speed poker and regular poker? Speed, literally, which means more hands per hour, and therefore more rake for the sites. If you decide to try your hand, a) sign up through an affiliate like RakeTheRake or Rakeback.com, and b) look around for special offers like bonus cash or freeroll tournaments. When the poker sites are floating something new they often offer special promotions to suck in the punters (and the fish).
Below are a few screengrabs from regular No Limit Hold 'Em tournament games so you can see what you are letting yourself in for.
A screengrab from a No Limit Hold 'Em freeroll, August 4, 2012. Our hero has pocket jacks, shortstacked, and in desperation, he whacks it all in on the flop hoping to suck out. He makes a full house, beating the guy with pocket kings, but the river card makes the muppet with Q-10 a bigger house.