Short Deck Poker is a variant of poker that’s gained popularity in the past few years. The game, also called 6-Plus Poker, originated in Macau’s high roller poker rooms. As new Short Deck Poker strategy information emerged, the game gained more attention in the USA and around the world. Now, a few online poker sites offer 6-Plus Poker. Players who master Short Deck Hold’em strategy can gain a decided advantage over opponents.
Short Deck Poker Rules: How to Play 6+ Hold’em
In Short-Deck Hold’em the standard 52-card deck has 36 cards, removing all deuces, treys, fours and fives. It’s known as Six Plus Poker because the lowest card in the deck is the six. The game can be played with anywhere from 2-10 players but is often played with six players.
Here are the re-worked poker hand rankings for Short-Deck Poker (*reflects a hand that’s ranked differently):
- Royal Flush
- Straight Flush
- Four of a Kind
- Full House
- Three of a Kind
- Two Pair
- One Pair
- High card
*A flush ranks higher than a full house in this game.
**There are variations of Short Deck Hold'em where a set beats a straight.
What’s the Best Short Deck Poker Strategy?
Short-Deck Poker strategy is developing, so the perfect strategy is still unformed. Like Hold’em in the early 2000s, it’s going to take some time for the correct strategy to emerge. On the bright side, this puts everyone at the same level right now. Those who grok the game quickly gain a huge skill advantage. With that said, a few basic tips can improve your win rate quickly.
What Are the Best Starting Hands in Short Deck Hold'em?
The list of premium hands is much different in 6+ Poker, so don't go into the game assuming standard Texas Hold'em logic applies. Instead, keep the following Short Deck Hold'em tips in mind.
It’s time to get out there and start playing. In the meantime here’s a famous video of iconic cash game pro, Tom Dwan, explaining how to play the format:
Short Deck Poker Strategy FAQ
What is Short Deck Poker?
Short Deck Poker is a variation of Texas Hold'em that uses a 36-card deck. Sixteen cards are removed from the deck (2s, 3s, 4s, 5s), so the 6-card is the lowest card in the deck. For this reason, many players call this Six-Plus Hold'em.
Six-Plus Poker began in the high-stakes poker rooms of Macau casinos. Since then, it's appeared as a separate event in major poker tournaments. Short Deck Hold’em is playable on many of the best online poker sites. Keep reading below for the 6+ Hold’em rules, plus strategy advice for beginners and intermediate players alike.
What is the best starting hand in Short Deck Hold’em?
The best starting hand in pocket aces. According to most Short Deck Poker strategy experts, the only real premium hands are AA, KK, AKs, and AQs. Even AQ is marginally a premium hand, so players must approach it with some caution. Hands like pocket queens, pocket jacks, and AK aren't as powerful as they are in standard Texas Hold'em.
One of the mistakes most card players make when they start playing Short-Deck Poker is to overplay these hands.
Like other forms of poker, the best overall hand is an ace-high straight flush, also known as a royal flush. Because sixteen cards are removed from the deck, royal flushes appear much more often in 6+ Poker. Regular Texas Hold'em has 1,326 potential starting hands, while Short Deck Hold'em has 630 potential starting hands.
Is Short Deck Poker easier?
Any poker variant is a player-versus-player game, so the difficulty level depends on your opponent. Short Deck Hold’em offers good players more opportunities to exploit, so it is easier for skilled players -- at least at the entry-level.
At lower bet ranges, Short Deck Hold’em is easier. That's because more loose players exist. These players are used to traditional Texas Hold'em and might not have mastered the new rules yet. For that reason, you're likely to see players making bets that (1) would make sense in standard Texas Hold'em but (2) make no sense in Short-Deck Hold'em.
How do you play 6+ Poker?
Does a 3 of a Kind beat a straight in Short Deck Hold'em?
In most versions of online Short Deck Hold’em, the straight still beats a 3 of a Kind. That isn't universal, so players must read the game rules before playing. Some online poker sites rank the 3 of a Kind higher than a straight.
If you aren't comfortable playing with the new rules, play free poker before joining a low-stakes game of Short Deck Hold'em.
Is there more action in Short Deck Hold'em?
The rule of 4 and 2 becomes the rule of 3 and 6, so Six-Plus Poker does increase the action. Be warned, though -- players need stronger post-flop hands to win the pot. Action is greater in the pre-flop which necessarily means post-flop bets are higher, though the amount of players staying in the hand typically goes down.
Bigger hands are more likely in Short Deck Hold'em. It's easier to hit a set. Aces have a higher value, while the smaller deck makes it twice as likely to receive pocket aces on the deal. At the same time, flushes are less likely, while top pair and top kicker have a lower value. Single-pair hands don't win a pot as often.