If you’ve started playing poker with 888.com recently, you’ll no doubt have come across their two semi-unique takes on the game – Snap Poker and Blast Poker. We say ‘semi’ because plenty of other poker rooms have their own spins on the same games going by different names, but 888’s are about the most popular…hence why we thought we’d focus on them.
But assuming you’re new to the idea, what’s the story? Or more importantly, is it something you should be getting into?
Well, the truth is that just as is the case with all variants on the original, it depends who you ask. Plenty if purists and pros will tell you that these types of poker have no place in civilised society. On the flipside, others will tell you they’re the best things to emerge since online poker itself. The best bet therefore being to familiarise yourself with the basics, give them a try and see what you think.
So to help get you started, here’s a quick rundown of what exactly you can expect from both:
If you’re the kind of poker player that’s all about the action and hates sitting around waiting for hands to play out, Snap Poker could be for you. It goes by a thousand other names elsewhere, but is basically a system whereby you never have to wait for a hand to play out if you choose to fold. Instead, the moment you fold you’re whisked off to a brand-new table and a brand new hand, with a group of other people ready to start a new hand at the same time.
Because of the way the action plays out, it’s perfectly possible to take part in around a dozen hands in the same amount of time it would usually take for a single hand to play out. That is, assuming you choose to ‘Snap Fold’ and bail. The beauty being that each time you get dealt the mother of all crappy hands, you don’t have to sit there watching the clock tick away while the other five players at the table keep things moving. You fold, you enter a new hand instantly with other people – it’s as simple as that.
What’s the downside? Well, the fact that you’re playing with new people with every single hand means you really don’t get sufficient time to get a feel for the way they play. Just as soon as you work out who’s brave, who bluffs and who’s full of BS, you’re off to a new table with new players and starting again from scratch. In addition, when you know you can enter a new hand at a new table in an instant at any time, you become far more likely to fold. Which in turn means you’ll inherently end up folding way more often, with hands you’d have normally played. Some say this breeds bad habits and impatience – some may also be right!
Still, for a spot of casual gaming when you don’t have a ton of time to spare, Snap Poker can be great. It might not help you develop any top-level pro skills, but that’s not what casual poker is about, anyway! And the fact that you can get in on the action with stakes as low at 1c/2c means there’s very little to lose by trying it out.
As for Blast Poker, this is another take on things that increases the pace of the game, though plays out more like a tournament. In the simplest of terms, the games are usually limited to four people and you choose whether you want to enter a 10c, $1, $5, $15 or $30 table. Depending on the table you choose and the way the selector lands, prizes vary from 50c up to $1 million. The selector gives the impression that the prize pot is random, but the likelihood of it landing on anything higher than about $10 or $50 is extremely low, so don’t get your hopes up too high. It’s also set randomly whether it’s a case of winner takes all, or prizes being allocated for second and third place positions too. You get yourself a stack worth $1,500 and play begins.
So what’s the big difference with Blast Poker? Well, quite simply it’s the way in which there’s a timer in the corner of the screen – set at six minutes in the lower-stakes games – which upon reaching zero changes the way the game plays out. At this point, every player automatically goes all-in with every hand, until one person has the entire stack of $6,000. Prior to this, limits go up each minute or so in the meantime, meaning there’s plenty of opportunity to win during normal play…if you’re quick enough.
The appeal of Blast Poker? It’s obvious really – you only need six minutes of your time to enter into a proper poker tournament with the potential to win a decent prize. The short time limit may have a big impact on the way the action plays out, but assuming you’re on a 10-minute bus ride and bored out of your mind, you’ve still more than enough time to play in a poker tournament. Which is pretty great, however you look at it.
On the downside, you only need to lose a few times during the all-in ending to realise just how frustrating it can be. Dominate the game, destroy your opponents and go into the final round with $5,900 and one other player with just $100…they can still win every penny that’s on offer. The odds might be on your side, but still…hair-tearingly annoying when it doesn’t happen!
And there you have it – two semi-new takes on poker that are definitely worth checking out. As for on-going appeal and the like, we’ll leave that for you to figure out for yourself!