Mastering Short Deck Poker: Rules, Gameplay, Strategies, and Popularity

Short deck poker’s taking the gambling world by storm. It’s a thrilling variation of traditional Texas Hold’em that’s gaining popularity fast. This article’s going to delve into the exciting world of short deck poker, shedding light on its rules, strategies, and why it’s becoming a favorite among poker enthusiasts.

Unlike traditional poker, short deck poker, also known as Six Plus Hold’em, uses a 36-card deck instead of the standard 52-card deck. This small change significantly impacts the game dynamics and strategies. If you’re curious about this poker variant, you’ve come to the right place.

What is Short Deck Poker?

Much like its predecessor, short deck poker gets its name from its defining characteristic. In this case, it’s the number of cards. Short deck poker utilizes a 36-card deck, unlike traditional poker games which use a 52-card deck. This configuration comes from the removal of all 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s, leaving only cards 6 and higher.

Don’t be fooled by the smaller deck size; the alteration significantly impacts gameplay. The reduced deck size influences frequencies of different hands, ultimately shaping how the game unfolds and the strategies adopted by players.

You’ll often hear short deck poker called by a few other names. These include Six Plus Hold’em or simply, short deck. It’s become a favorite among poker enthusiasts around the world, due in large part to the exciting prospects of change and adaptability the game offers.

Rules and Gameplay

Interestingly, short deck poker follows nearly identical rules to Texas Hold’em. Therefore, players already familiar with Hold’em will not have a steep learning curve.

Short deck poker starts with each player getting two private cards (hole cards), followed by five community cards dealt over three rounds (flop, turn, river). The key difference, of course, is again the reduced deck. But it’s also worth noting a couple of hand-ranking tweaks. In short deck, a flush beats a full house, and in some variations, three of a kind beat a straight.

From a strategic viewpoint, short deck proves more volatile due to increased opportunities for rare hand combinations. Planning how to maneuver these swings requires an adaptable strategy and sharp attention to detail at every stage of play.

In the grand scheme of poker variations, short deck is the new kid on the block, but it’s making quite a splash. This fresh-faced game is set to intrigue and captivate audiences, promising an experience replete with ample strategic depth and heart-racing excitement.

Rules of Short Deck Poker

In the riveting world of short deck poker, playing by the rules is all-important. Let’s dive in.

Short deck poker, also known as Six Plus Hold’em, uses a 36-card deck. This variation eliminates all cards below six – that means no twos through fives. The game mechanics closely mirror that of classic Texas Hold’em, with the exception of a few critical differences.

In short deck poker, the Ace still plays both high and low, meaning it can substitute for a five to complete a nine-high straight (A-6-7-8-9). Remember, there are no fives in the deck! It’s also vital to know the changes in hand rankings. In short deck, a flush beats a full house, and three of a kind beats a straight. Why so? Simple math. The probability of these hands shifts due to the reduced deck size.

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The game begins with the dealer shuffling the trimmed deck and dealing two hole cards to each player. The player to the left places the ante, and the player to their left posts a button blind. This is typically equal to the ante, but could be larger depending on house rules. The action kicks off with the player to the left of the button blind. They’ve four options: fold, call, raise or go all-in.

Much like Texas Hold’em, short deck poker includes a flop (three community cards), a turn (one community card), and a river (final community card). After each round, betting ensues. If two or more players remain after the final betting round, it’s showdown time. The player with the highest hand walks away with the pot.

The stakes can climb high in short deck poker, making for an unpredictable, adrenaline-fueled game. Embrace the rush, and remember – it’s not just about the luck of the draw. Strategy and understanding of the unique rules can give you the upper hand.

Differences between Short Deck Poker and Traditional Poker

Though short deck poker, also known as Six Plus Hold’em, shares some similarities with Texas Hold’em, the adjustments to the card deck and hand rankings create a markedly different game experience. Let’s take a deeper look at these differences.

In traditional poker, a player’s got a full deck of 52 cards to work with. However, in short deck poker, the deck is stripped down to 36 cards. Cards numbered 2 through 5 are removed entirely, leaving a slimmer deck for players. This shifts the odds, increasing the pace at which hands are dealt and won, leading to rapid-fire game play.

Additionally, the hand ranking changes in short deck poker are crucial. Where a flush would rank below a full house in standard poker, it’s got more worth in short deck; a flush will beat a full house in this variation. Likewise, whereas a straight would typically rank higher than three of a kind, in short deck poker, three of a kind gets the upper hand. This shake-up in established hand rankings challenges seasoned poker players to rethink their strategies.

One other key difference lies in the betting structure. Traditional poker has a wide variety of betting structures, like no-limit, pot-limit, and limit. Short deck poker, on the other hand, leans predominantly towards the no-limit model. This structure, combined with the smaller deck and altered hand rankings, creates an opportunity for bigger, more frequent plays. For thrill-seekers, short deck’s high-variance gameplay gives a picturesque blend of unpredictability and strategy.

Short deck Poker: it’s a lightning-quick variation of a beloved classic, a game that’s just as reliant on skill as it is on luck. Our journey into the exhilarating realm of short deck poker continues in the next section so don’t go away.

Short Deck Poker Strategies

Given the uniqueness of Short Deck Poker, strategic play differs in significant ways from traditional poker games. It’s crucial for players to understand these strategies to enhance their chances of winning.

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It’s critical to remember that with fewer cards in the deck, the likelihood of hitting a card you need for a strong hand increases. Consequently, the value of drawing hands, such as straights and flushes, increases. Therefore, players should consider playing more of these hands than they would in traditional poker.

Another key strategy players should take into account is stack size. Stack size is a core element of short deck strategies. Since Short Deck is a high-variance game, it requires players to use a deeper stack to withstand wild and highly fluctuating swings.

  • It’s recommended to adopt a loose-aggressive style of play.
  • Short Deck rewards aggression and type of players willing to brave high stakes.

Yet, it’s also essential to remain versatile and adaptable in your playstyle. There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy in Short Deck Poker. As in any form of poker, situational awareness is key. Players should always be aware of their position, stack size, and opponent tendencies and tailor their strategy accordingly.

Lastly, mastering the art of hand selection is pivotal in short deck poker. Because of the change in deck size, some hands will have a different strength relative to others. Traditional poker starting hand charts won’t be as accurate in short deck.

There’s no question that Short Deck Poker is an exciting ride that forces players to retool their strategies. It’s a challenge and an opportunity to explore a different side of the poker world. Embrace the variance, adjust your strategy, and savor the fast-paced thrill of the game.

Why Short Deck Poker is Gaining Popularity

Short deck poker, also known as Six Plus Hold’em, is gaining momentum in the poker world. Its rise can be attributed to the unique challenges it presents, differing substantially from traditional Texas Hold’em strategy.

For one, the unique structure of the game opens up a world of new strategies and considerations that seasoned poker players find refreshing. The elimination of the 2s through 5s from the deck changes the dynamics of the game, increasing the value of certain hands and placing greater emphasis on drawing cards. It’s these changes that continually keep players intrigued and engaged with short deck poker.

The game also introduces greater variance, which can make it a thrilling experience. This high-risk, high-reward setup draws players looking for large swings and exciting moments, producing a more sensational experience. The game’s fast pace and higher frequency of strong hands contribute to the thrill, preventing the game from becoming stale or predictable.

Not only does it level the playing field by making it harder for seasoned players to use their experience to their advantage, but it also makes the game more approachable for newcomers. By reducing the number of cards in the deck, it simplifies the decision-making process and makes it easier for beginners to grasp the mechanics. This has contributed to short deck poker’s reputation as an inclusive and accessible variant for players of all skill levels—bolstering its popularity.

Despite the evolution of poker over the years, short deck poker has carved its own niche and is attracting a loyal following. It’s clear that the innovative nature of short deck poker caters to a wide array of players. From seasoned veterans looking for a fresh challenge to novices seeking an accessible entry into poker, this variant has something to offer everyone.

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In order to truly appreciate the game, it’s crucial to immerse oneself in the nuances of short deck poker. By testing the waters, experimenting with strategies, and understanding the game’s unique traits, players can truly unlock the potential that short deck poker has to offer. Thus, it’s not surprising to find the poker world captivated by this rising star.


Short deck poker’s rise in popularity is undeniable. Its unique gameplay and higher variance offer a fresh take on the traditional poker game, attracting both seasoned players and newcomers alike. The adjustments in the card deck, hand rankings, and betting structure create a dynamic game environment that demands a nuanced strategy.

The emphasis on drawing hands and the necessity for a loose-aggressive style of play adds an exciting layer of complexity. It’s a game that rewards situational awareness and adaptability, making every hand a new challenge. Short deck poker isn’t just a fad—it’s a testament to the evolving landscape of poker. As more players discover its appeal, it’s clear that short deck poker will continue to hold a prominent place in the poker world. It’s not just another game—it’s a revolution in the making.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is short deck poker?

Short deck poker, also known as Six Plus Hold’em, is a variation of traditional poker where certain cards are removed from the deck. This game is played with a 36-card deck, removing all the twos, threes, fours, and fives.

How are hand rankings different in short deck poker?

In short deck poker, the hand rankings are adjusted due to the removal of certain cards from the deck. In this game, a flush beats a full house, and three of a kind beats a straight.

What is the betting structure in short deck poker?

The betting structure in short deck poker is typically pot-limit or no-limit. This means that players can bet any amount up to the current pot size.

What are the key strategies for playing short deck poker?

Key strategies for playing short deck poker include understanding the increased value of drawing hands, adopting a loose-aggressive playing style, and making strategic adjustments based on position, stack size, and opponent tendencies.

Why is short deck poker gaining popularity?

Short deck poker is gaining popularity due to its unique challenges and higher variance. It offers a fresh and exciting alternative to traditional poker games, attracting both experienced players looking for a new challenge and newcomers who find it more approachable.

Is short deck poker a game for beginners?

Yes, short deck poker is a game that is more approachable for beginners. Its simplified hand rankings and smaller deck size make it easier to learn and understand compared to traditional poker games.

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