Short deck poker, also known as six-plus hold’em, is a relatively new game. Created in the high stakes cash games of Macau, it quickly spread in popularity around the world due to increased action.  

Here’s what you need to know about the poker variant

What is short deck poker?

Short deck poker is a variant that has become extremely popular in Asia and high stakes games around the world. It is played by removing the 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, and 5’s from the deck, thus creating a “short deck” of 36 cards. 

The game is played with antes and a double ante on the button. Play starts to the left of the button, with players choosing to fold, match the second ante, or raise. It then proceeds like regular hold’em, with a flop, turn, and river.

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Who invented short deck poker?

Paul Phua and Richard Yong invented short deck poker as a way to create more action and give newer players a better chance over amateurs. 

Because of the decrease in cards, there are less trash hands preflop and players can play a much wider range of hands. 

Short deck poker rules, differences from Texas hold’em

There are two main differences between short deck and hold’em. The most important is that the hand rankings differ. A flush beats a full house, and three-of-a-kind beats a straight. All other hand rankings are the same.

The second important distinction is that aces act as both high and low, meaning that an ace makes an A-6-7-8-9 straight. 

What is the Triton poker tour’s relationship with short deck poker?

Phua and Yong used the Triton Poker Tour in 2018 to test out their new game, to much approval. 

In Triton’s tournament format, players are given three bullets. This allows them to go all-in with less regard for their tournament life, which is necessary because of how often big hands come up and how closely equities run. 

The game has become so popular that the WSOP added it as a bracelet event back in 2019. 

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Linus Loeliger’s beginner short deck tips

Here are some basic short deck tips from Phua’s website:

  • Pocket aces come along 1 in 105 hands, not one in 220, but they are cracked way more often.
  • Straight draws arrive on the flop 48% of the time, not 31%.
  • The odds of flopping a set are 18%, and not 12%.

Linus Loeliger also offered his own set of tips. Loeliger is a Swiss pro who has been playing professionally at the highest level for nine years. With over $6.7 million in tournament earnings at the Triton Super High Roller Series, his advice is worth following. 

Added importance of pre-flop strategy

“You need to be very aware of stack sizes, because there’s a lot of preflop strategy in short deck,” Loeliger explains.

“You need to be trained in knowing which hands to go all-in preflop with. It’s a lot more of that than in regular hold’em.” 

More all-ins, less fold equity

There are many more all-ins preflop in short deck, because as Loeliger explains, “the equities run a lot closer.”

Players shouldn’t just go all-in with anything, though. 

“You definitely have less fold equity. If you don’t share any hole cards with your opponents, your equities are going to run super-close, so players are more willing to call off. The way you gain edge is when you have your opponent dominated, like ace-king against ace-queen for example. These are the spots where equities are significantly different than, say, ace-king against jack-ten.” 

Trash hands vs. strong hands

There are some significant differences in preflop hand strength between short deck and regular hold’em. 

“Lower pocket pairs, they’re not good in short deck. High cards are the best in short deck.”

“Hands like jack-ten suited are better in short deck. Ace-king is a better hand too. It’s the hand that’s dominating a lot of the other hands.” 

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