One of the most popular new poker games over the past few years has been Six Plus Hold’em, also known as 6+ and Short Deck Hold’em. The game has caught the attention of players both in live bricks and mortar poker rooms and on the internet in the online poker rooms.
The game really started to gain attention after Tom Dwan and Phil Ivey created a video about the game a few years back. Dwan recently lost a $2.35 million pot in a televised poker game, after which he declared he was leaving to go play short deck.
The game is played is a very similar way to regular Texas Hold’em. In fact, most of the gameplay is identical: there are four betting rounds, you get two hole cards, there are three cards on the flop, and the river is the last community card. The big difference with Six Plus Hold’em is the number of cards in the deck. A normal deck that is used to play poker has 52 cards in it, but in 6+ all of the 2s, 3s, 4s and 5s are removed, leaving only 36 cards.
The aces still act as both high and low cards, just like in traditional poker games. So, when trying to make a low straight, the ace acts like a 5 instead of a 1. This means that the smallest possible straight in 6+ Hold’em is A6789.
Six Plus Hold’em Hand Rankings
This of course means that the cards that remain in the deck are much higher in rank (on average) than a typical card in a normal 52 card deck. Not only does this means that some strategy adjustments must be made to accommodate for the difference, but it also means that more big hands are made which can increase the excitement level for players.
In addition to the average card ranking being higher in 6+ Hold’em, the odds of making certain hands changes as the number of cards in the deck changes.
A Flush Beats a Full House
For instance, one of the best hands you could make in regular Hold’em is a Full House. Very few hands beat it, only Straight Flushes and Four of a Kind rank higher. But in six plus, a regular Flush beats a Full House too.
Because there are four less cards in each suit, there are four less cards available to help you make a Flush. This increased difficulty is enough to boost Flushes up in the rankings ahead of Full Houses.
Three-of-a-kind Beats a Straight
The removal of the 16 cards (identified above) also means that the remaining cards are all much closer in rank. When thinking about poker, players often think about hand ranges, well apply the idea of ranges to the possible ranks of cards in the deck and you will quickly visualize the clustering effect of removing the cards below the six.
What this means for a strategy perspective is that straights become easier to make. There will be smaller gaps between the cards in your hand and those on the board. As a result, three-of-a-kind hands are ranked higher and beat straights.
For the most part, all of the other hand rankings are the same as regular Texas Hold’em, but always check the rules of the game that you’re playing in because the rules and hand ranking do vary from game to game.