Short Deck Poker Rules

Short Deck Poker

Despite some criticism, Short Deck Poker (otherwise called 6+ Hold’em) is gaining more and more prominence among players. 

This is a slightly different form of so familiar Texas Holdem: only 36 playing cards in the pack, hand ranking hierarchy altered. 

The remaining rules closely resemble those of classic poker, rendering this discipline remarkably easy to understand.

Many industry celebrities have a keen interest in the discussed format: Phil IveyTom Dwan and a group of affluent Asian businessmen have become regular attendees at major tournaments of Triton, a prestigious high roller festival.

With millions of dollars up for grabs and dynamic gameplay, this game provides a truly action-packed experience. Shortened deck generates some unique specifics, so one should factor them into their strategic approach to succeed at the given tables.

What is Short Deck Poker? Gameplay Insights

Both hobbyists and high-calibre professionals have enjoyed the 6+ format from the very first days of its inception. But do not rush to dive into the action! The short-deck variation has a few noteworthy differences to be aware of unless you want to come across expensive mistakes along the way.

So, what sets Six Plus apart from the poker we are all accustomed to? And what is a short deck in poker? Let’s figure it out.

  • This discipline largely follows the rules of classic Holdem but requires a stripped-down pack ranging from six to Ace (36 pieces instead 52). Such alteration adds aggressiveness and dynamism to the game process, as chances of completing strong hands go up.
  • The lowest straight – commonly referred to as "Wheel" – starts from an Ace, followed by six and the next three consecutive pieces: Ax-6x-7x-8x-9x. In this case, Aces function as the smallest cards, but they generally hold the position of the highest element, so Tx-Jx-Qx-Kx-Ax is also straight.
  • Some poker rooms regard three-of-a-kind (set/trips) to be stronger than straight. For instance, this applies to the iPoker network, whereas on PokerStars triplet holds lesser value by tradition.
  • Also, keep in mind that here flush has a higher ranking than a full house. Oh yeah, you'll have to put up with this fact and adapt your thinking 😉
What is the Short Deck structure?
What is the Short Deck structure?

The 6+ Hold'em format typically does not include a traditional big and small blind. Instead, each participant pays ante, while the BTN player posts a so-called "button blind", which is normally two to four times the ante size. Classic blind structure is employed occasionally, but such cases are extremely rare.

How to Play 6+ Hold'em: Concise Guide

The betting round count and possible user actions remain intact. However, since changes have been made to short deck hand rankings and game structure, novices can first practice free competitions to hone their skills and get used to the aforesaid alterations. For example, you can test-drive the Six Plus format for play money (aka fake credits) on Poker Stars.

Step 1
Step 1

All table participants were dealt starters (pocket cards), and each of them placed an ante. Now, it's time to decide on a preflop bet: call, raise or fold. Let's choose to call and continue.

short deck poker rules

Step 2
Step 2

Next goes the flop stage, and so the first 3 shared cards appear on the board. We should again decide how to proceed. Let's play check.

What is Short Deck Poker

Step 3
Step 3

Moving on, the fourth shared card, referred to as "turn", is revealed. We choose to continue playing and therefore call down.

Short Deck Poker

Step 4
Step 4

Welcome the fifth and final board element, that is, the river card. Let’s call and see what the showdown will bring to us.

How to play Short Deck Poker

Step 5
Step 5

Regrettably, our opponent got J♥-K♣, resulting in a ten-to-ace straight. They emerge as the winner, taking the entire pot.

Did you know?
Did you know?

There are other variations with fewer than 52 pieces in the pack. A great example is 32 Draw poker, which consequently requires a 32-card deck. In this case, one table can accommodate 5 people maximum.

Short Deck Holdem Probabilities

To gain a better understanding of gameplay, take time and familiarise yourself with the probabilities of completing each combination. There are 1 326 starting hands in the classic format, compared to 630 in the short-deck variation. Here are some more examples of odds disparities:

Scenario

Game version

6 PlusRegular
Chance of getting pocket aces0.95%0.45%
Probability of winning with AA77%85%
Likelihood of being dealt any pocket pair8.60%5.90%

It is also crucial to understand the odds of improving your hand on a specific street. If you have a flush draw on the flop, there is a 16.5% chance to finish it by the river. The probability of boosting your set to a full house or four-of-a-kind is 32.2%, while a straight draw is completed in 25.6% of cases.

Let's compare the chances to strengthen on two streets – turn and river. Have a look at the table below to see these numbers.

Scenario

Game version

6 PlusRegular
Finishing flush draw
33%34.5%
Upgrading set to quads/full house
54%33.1%
Improving 2 pair to a full house
26%16.4%
Completing OESD (open-ended straight draw)51%31.3%
Hitting a gutshot26%16.4%

Poker rooms to practice 6+ Hold’em

GGPoker
GGPoker
A
United States of America Available in your country
4.9 / 5.0
Excellent
reputation
by cardmates.org
PokerStars
PokerStars
B
United States of America Not available in your country
4.7 / 5.0
Excellent
reputation
by cardmates.org
Bet365 Poker
Bet365 Poker
B
United States of America Available in your country
4.4 / 5.0
Excellent
reputation
by cardmates.org

Pros and Cons of the Game

There is no better way to fully grasp the 6 Plus Holdem rules and understand whether this variation suits you than actually playing it. Finding like-minded players won't be a challenge, as such tables are available in many mainstream poker rooms. 

  • More intense action and a higher chance of finishing certain combinations.
  • Many weak players lack an understanding of the game strategy.
  • Higher variance compared to the classic format.
  • Experience is crucial to outplay opponents.

By the way, poker cheat sheet (chart of starting hands) will aid you in this confrontation. Use it to improve your play against your opponents. Try new formats, develop your skills and derive pleasure from the game.

FAQ
📌 What are the rules to Short Deck?

The game mechanics are quite simple, and anyone familiar with conventional Texas Hold'em will have no trouble grasping its rules. Here are three key distinctions:

  • a pack is modified by deleting deuces, triples, fours and fives, and as a result, we have 36 cards in lieu of 52;
  • A-6-7-8-9 form the lowest possible straight;
  • the most common betting structure is without blinds; each individual places ante, with BTN (button) paying a double ante.
💡 Does flush beats full house in Short Deck?

As a result of removing some cards, the probabilities of forming poker hands change, thereby affecting their hierarchy. There are no standardized rules, but flushes outdo full houses in most cases. Furthermore, three-of-a-kind is considered better than straight on some poker sites. Clarify this matter in advance to avoid any nasty surprises!

🔍 What are the odds in Short Deck Poker?

Probabilities and odds can vary significantly from what we are accustomed to in regular Hold 'em. For example, you normally receive aces as your starters nearly in 0.45% of cases, while in 6+ your chances rise to 0.95%. While exciting, you should be careful not to overestimate your hand strength and focus more on post-flop strategies. Any pair has less power compared to the traditional version, and since completing draw hands holds higher chances, single pairs become more exposed.

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