For years, standard No-Limit Hold’em has reigned supreme as the game of choice in the poker world but could an upstart variant have a legitimate shot at dethroning the king?
Short-Deck poker, also known as 6-plus Hold’em or Triton Poker, is a newish variant of Hold’em that eliminates the deuces, treys, fours and fives from the deck. The remaining 36-card deck creates an action-packed game with powerful hands frequently pitted against each other.
The game has been extremely popular with the high-stakes crowd in Asia but it’s now making the trip across the sea to take a starring role in the upcoming Poker Masters to be held at the Aria in Las Vegas this fall.
The first-ever Short-Deck tournament at the Poker Masters will be a $10,000 buy-in tournament on Sept. 10, 2018.
What Are the Origins of Short-Deck Poker?
Short-Deck has a fascinating history that began in the high-stakes poker rooms of Asia several years ago.
It’s still unknown exactly who invented the game in the first place but it caught on in the high-stakes games that Tom Dwan and Phil Ivey were frequenting in Manila and Macau. The pair starred in a promotional video for the Short-Deck poker that increased interest in the game.
By getting rid of the low cards, the game tends to result in more action as big hands collide more frequently. It was an immediate hit in the high-stakes games.
Interestingly the gameplay in Short-Deck is essentially identical to Hold’em but the hand rankings work a little differently in order to compensate for the smaller deck.
Generally a flush beats a full house and three-of-a-kind beats a straight, which is counterintuitive to the standard Hold’em rankings. The rules are not ubiquitious, however, and some tournament organizers leave the straight as a more powerful hand to three-of-a-kind.
The different hand rankings make the strategy for the game significantly different as flushes are suddenly much harder to hit while straights and paired hands are much more common.
Earlier this year the Triton Poker series stop in Montenegro became the first organization to host a televised Short-Deck event with none other than Phil Ivey eventually outlasting all 61 entries to win $604,992.
It’s clear that Ivey has a knack for the game as he went on to place third in the HK$1,000,000 buy-in Short-Deck tournament at the same festival for a whopping $1,600,000.
2018 Poker Masters to Feature Seven Events
The Poker Masters, which is co-hosted by Aria Resort & Casino and poker streaming organization Poker Central, made its debut last season with a mixture of $50,000 and $100,000 buy-in tournaments.
German high roller Steffen Sontheimer closed out two tournaments and recorded just over $2.7 million in earnings to win the inaugural Purple Jacket that was handed out to the overall points leader.
This year organizers adjusted the schedule for the Poker Masters to offer a little more variety in the buy-in department:
The entire series will be streamed live for poker fans around the world on Poker Central’s streaming platform PokerGO. That includes the first-ever North American Short-Deck event on Sept. 10.
Short-Deck Poker Headed Online?
Online poker sites are always looking to innovate and offer games that will bring in new players so it seems likely that it’s only a matter of time before they start running Short-Deck as a variant of the game.
Short-Deck poker is a particularly intriguing variant because strategy is significantly different than regular Hold’em and odds are very different.
The game is very much “unsolved” and so far there are very few strategy resources for Short-Deck. It could be a potentially lucrative market for players who manage to master the game early.
Currently there are only a handful of sites that actually spread the game but there’s a good chance it will be headed to the bigger sites relatively soon and small-stakes players will get to live out their Short-Deck dreams.