When Full Tilt Poker launched Rush Poker in 2010 it was a breath of fresh air in an industry that hadn’t seen much innovation. Dubbed “the ultimate high-speed poker experience” the idea was so simple it’s hard to believe that nobody had thought of it before.
Instead of folding 72o and having to wait several minutes as the rest of the hand played out, Rush Poker threw you right onto a new table and into a new hand as soon as your 72o hit the muck.
Full Tilt was able to speed up the game by treating all of the players playing on Rush Poker tables at the same stake as belonging to one giant pool of players.
When you hit the fold button you were moved to a new table with other players who had just folded their hands on their tables and a new hand was immediately dealt.
For many players who couldn’t keep up with multi-tabling and players who were looking to clock as many hands per hour as they could so they could increase the amount of rakeback they were getting, Rush Poker was the perfect game.
Rush Poker was an immediate hit with the poker community. Unlike many new features introduced in online poker, interest in Rush Poker only grew in the months after its launch. The popularity of Rush Poker didn’t go unnoticed by Full Tilt’s competitors.
Full Tilt claimed the new game format was patented but copycats were quick to follow. iPoker (Speed Poker), Ongame (Fast Poker), PartyPoker (Fast Forward), PokerStars (Zoom Poker), and others launched their own variations of Rush Poker. For many, the only difference between Rush Poker and their own brand of expedited poker was in name only.
PokerStars was one of the last to join the Rush Poker mania waiting until May of this year to launch their Rush Poker clone, Zoom Poker. By then, Full Tilt had ceased operations following their financial problems resulting from Black Friday and enormous payment backlog.
Within a few months, Zoom Poker had taken off in a big way. According to PokerScout 25% of all of the cash games on PokerStars were Zoom Poker games. As impressive as that sounds, Zoom Poker was actually more popular on the site than the number of cash game players might imply. Because one could play up to three hands in the time it takes a regular game to finish a single hand, PokerScout estimates that roughly 50% of all cash game hands dealt were on Zoom Poker tables.
Of course, PokerStars later agreed to purchase Full Tilt Poker’s assets and business a few months later making them the owner of the Rush Poker patent.
PokerStars recently expressed their intent on defending the Full Tilt Rush Poker patent. According to a report in eGaming Review, the Isle of Man-based PokerStars filed a motion to postpone oral proceedings ahead of a decision from the European Patent Office.
Matthew Dixon, from the law firm Harrison Goddard Foote, which is representing PokerStars in the case said, “My client only became involved in this application seven weeks ago, having been transferred the application by court order from a non-trading company.”
InstaPoker founder Per Hildebrand was not pleased hearing that PokerStars is apparently going to defend the patent, telling eGaming Review “[The] funny part is that their lawyers once must have concluded that the product is not patentable as they launched Zoom and now want to argue that it is.”
It does seem rather odd that PokerStars would now defend a patent that they would have been guilty of violating themselves had they not later purchased Full Tilt’s assets.
It should be interesting to see how this plays out. This “Rush” style of poker has obviously become very popular with players and it could blow up in PokerStars’ face if they were to attempt to lock players into their platform in order to play.
On the other hand, the scope of the patent seems fairly limited and there could be opportunities for other poker rooms to challenge the patent.
Planet Mark runs Sit and Go Planet which focuses on Sit N Go, Poker Tournament and Satellite Qualifier strategy for beginning to intermediate players around the world.