Short Deck Poker (a.k.a., Six Plus Hold’em) has garnered a lot of popularity lately, primarily thanks to ultra-high stakes games broadcast from the Triton Poker Series stops in Europe and Asia.
These games are being streamed with increasing regularity, so it is no surprise that many poker fans are warming up to this new poker variant. Seeing huge six-figure pots constantly exchange hands will never fail to excite.
Short Deck Hold’em looks a lot like the traditional, full deck format. However, it is a different game with different dynamics and specific strategies. To be able to play well, you need to learn short deck poker rules and understand main differences and how they influence your game-plan.
In this short article, I will share my top 3 tips, which should help you have better results. If you never played this game before, this could be a great time to begin.
1. Feel free to limp with many more hands
Unlike in classic Hold’em, there is absolutely nothing wrong with open-limping with a variety of hands in Six Plus. In fact, from early positions, you could limp with your entire range and be very profitable. It may seem counter intuitive, but there are a couple of reasons for this.
First of all, there aren’t as many real preflop premiums in Short Deck. Only Aces, Kings, and AKs are considered premium hands (and AQs to some extent). So, the task of balancing your best hands with some weaker ones becomes increasingly difficult. Thus, open-limping becomes a viable strategy.
Secondly, you’re getting much better odds on your money because of the ante structure. Since you already have one ante invested in every pot and there are seven antes in the middle, you’ll want to see as many flops as possible.
This also creates a scenario where the game is effectively played much shorter. Often, raising will commit you to the pot if you have a shorter stack. Thus, if you’re raising from early position with non-premiums, you’ll very often run into a better hand behind. If you’re only raising premiums, you risk becoming too predictable.
So, I recommend just limping your entire range from early positions (up until Hijack or Cutoff) and going from there.
2. Understand that hand equities are much closer
In Short Deck Hold’em, hand equities run much closer together than in traditional No Limit Hold’em. That’s the main reason why so few hands are considered premiums, and even these hands aren’t nearly as strong. Getting it in with KK vs. AK, for example, you won’t be nearly as big of a favorite as you’d be in NLHE.
In fact, you may be surprised to hear that pocket kings are just a 10% favorite against any AK and only 6% favorite against the suited AKs! Because the deck has been shortened, an ace will make an appearance by the river much more frequently.
This changes the overall approach to the game. You’ll be better off seeing more flops cheaply and proceeding from there than just trying to get the chips in the middle with hands that might be borderline favorites at best (like JJ or QQ). Therefore, it makes sense to study preflop hands charts and get familiar with the math part of this game.
Because there are only 36 cards in the deck as low value cards (2s through 5s) are removed, suited connectors go way up in value. You’ll be making many more straights in Short Deck than you do in NLHE. Additionally, flushes beat full houses in this game. Thus, suited cards, especially suited aces, are very powerful.
3. Overbets are a regular part of the game
Sizing your bets in No-Limit Hold’em is usually done in relation to the pot. You won’t see too many players firing huge bets that are bigger than the size of the pot except in some very special spots.
In Six Plus Hold’em, though, over-betting the pot is not just normal, but it’s even recommended!
This tip ties into what I mentioned earlier, i.e., equities being much closer together. When you flop a big hand, you’ll usually want to protect it because other players will have good chances of catching up. The best way to do it is by betting big and even over-betting the pot if you’re up against someone who’s sticky or they’re likely to have a big draw.
This works the other way around, too. You can bet big with your big draws and put the maximum amount of pressure on your opponent. They won’t know if you have the nuts or not and even if they call you, you’ll still have a great amount of equity with hands such as combo draws.
Ed. note: Now that you’ve started learning more about Short Deck Hold’em, you might be interested in further study via a comprehensive course. Have a look at our thorough review of Kane Kalas’ Short Deck course over at Upswing Poker.