How To Play Short Deck Poker

James Lopez
August 21, 2023
How To Play Short Deck Poker


How To Play Short Deck Poker: A thrilling variant that has taken the poker scene by storm. Also known as Six Plus Hold’em, this game offers a fresh twist on traditional Texas Hold’em by removing certain cards from the deck. 

In Short Deck Poker, all cards from 2 to 5 are eliminated, leaving a deck with 36 cards. This alteration significantly impacts the game’s dynamics, creating a faster-paced and more action-packed experience. The absence of these lower cards means players are more likely to hit strong hands, resulting in higher-strength hands becoming the norm. Flushes now beat full houses, and aces can be used as low cards to form unique straight combinations.

This variation also alters the hand rankings, as the reduced deck affects the probability of achieving specific hands. While the fundamental principles of poker remain intact, the strategy adjustments are essential to thriving in this condensed version. Bluffing gains new significance, and pre-flop hand selection takes on a different dimension.

In this comprehensive guide on how to play Short Deck Poker, we will delve into the rules, hand rankings, betting structure, and essential strategies to elevate your gameplay. Whether you’re a seasoned poker player looking to explore a captivating variant or a newcomer eager to grasp the fundamentals, this guide will equip you with the insights needed to navigate the exciting world of Short Deck Poker.

What are the rules to short deck?

Short-Deck Poker Rules

The deuces, threes, fours, and fives are removed, making six the lowest card. The game is played between 2 to 10 players, with the usual number of players being 6. The hand rankings in short-deck poker are re-worked due to the higher chances of hitting certain hands such as straights or sets.

The rules of Short Deck Poker, also known as Six Plus Hold’em, introduce intriguing variations to the traditional poker format. The most notable distinction is the reduced deck, consisting of 36 cards with all the cards from 2 to 5 removed. This alteration leads to a game characterized by higher-strength hands and increased action.

Despite the modified deck, the fundamental principles of poker remain intact. Players are dealt two hole cards, and the community cards (flop, turn, and river) are shared as usual. However, due to the condensed deck, some hand rankings are adjusted to reflect the increased likelihood of hitting certain combinations. Notably, a flush now beats a full house, and three-of-a-kind triumphs over a straight.

The removal of specific cards affects the odds and probabilities, impacting strategic decisions such as pre-flop hand selection and post-flop betting. The absence of low cards also heightens the importance of reading opponents and adapting one’s strategy accordingly.

In Short Deck Poker, the rapid pace and intense gameplay attract those seeking a fresh challenge. By understanding the rules and adapting strategies to this variant’s nuances, players can navigate the unique landscape of Short Deck Poker with confidence and competence.

How To Play Short Deck Poker

What is short deck in poker?

What is Short Deck Poker? Short-deck poker (also known as six-plus hold’em) is a new variation of traditional Texas hold’em that mostly follows the same rules albeit with a significant difference. Short-deck poker uses a smaller 36-card deck rather than the full 52-card deck.

Short Deck Poker, also known as Six Plus Hold’em, is a dynamic and exhilarating variant of traditional poker that has gained popularity in recent years. The defining feature of this game is the alteration of the standard 52-card deck. In Short Deck Poker, all cards from 2 to 5 are removed, leaving a deck with only 36 cards.

This modification has a profound impact on the game dynamics. With the lower cards removed, the probabilities of hitting certain hands change significantly. This results in higher-strength hands becoming more common, leading to more action and excitement. As a consequence, hand rankings are adjusted to reflect this new probability distribution. For instance, flushes now beat full houses, and aces can be used both as high and low cards in straight combinations.

The removal of specific cards also shifts the strategic landscape. Players need to adapt their pre-flop hand selection, post-flop betting strategies, and bluffing tactics to suit the revised odds. Short Deck Poker rewards adaptability and quick thinking, making it a favorite among players looking for a fresh challenge and heightened intensity.

What are the best hands in short deck poker?

Short Deck Hand Rankings

  • Royal flush. A royal flush is an ace high straight flush
  • Straight flush. A straight flush is a five-card straight, all in the same suit
  • Four of a kind. Four of a kind, or quads, are four cards of equal value
  • Flush
  • Full house
  • Straight
  • Three of a kind
  • Two pairs.

In Short Deck Poker, the altered deck and adjusted probabilities give rise to a distinct hierarchy of hand strengths. Due to the absence of cards from 2 to 5, certain hands become more common and valuable, reshaping the traditional poker hand rankings.

At the top of the hierarchy are the premium hands, which have higher probabilities of occurring. The best hand in Short Deck Poker is the Six-High Straight Flush, also known as the “Royal Flush” in regular poker. Following this, the Flush and Full House have become rarer and more valuable, with the Flush now outranking the Full House due to the increased difficulty of achieving it.

Three-of-a-Kind ranks above a Straight, emphasizing the significance of sets and trips in this variant. Straights have a slightly diminished value since there are fewer cards available for sequential combinations. Aces can still be used in both high and low contexts to form Straights.

It’s important to note that while the hand rankings have shifted, the fundamental poker strategies of reading opponents, understanding odds, and adjusting your play accordingly remain crucial. Being adaptable and quick to recognize the new dynamics of Short Deck Poker is key to capitalizing on its unique opportunities.

The best hands in Short Deck Poker are reshaped by the altered deck, with emphasis on Flushes, Full Houses, Three-of-a-Kind, and Six-High Straight Flushes. Familiarity with these adjusted rankings is essential for success in this thrilling and rapidly evolving variant.

Is short deck poker better?

Playing short deck Hold’em makes it easier to hit a set than when playing the regular game. Short deck players holding a pocket pair have 2 cards remaining from the 34 to give them a set as opposed to 2 cards out of 50 in the regular game.

Whether Short Deck Poker is better than traditional poker depends on personal preferences and what you seek in a poker game. Short Deck Poker offers a unique and fast-paced experience that has attracted both seasoned players and newcomers to the poker scene.

The condensed deck and adjusted hand rankings in Short Deck Poker lead to a higher frequency of strong hands and more action-packed gameplay. This can create an exhilarating atmosphere where big hands and intense showdowns are more frequent. The game’s shorter duration and increased chances of hitting valuable hands also make it appealing for those seeking a faster-paced game.

However, the altered dynamics of Short Deck Poker require players to adapt their strategies and approach. The absence of certain cards affects the odds and probabilities, impacting decisions from pre-flop play to post-flop betting. This variant places greater emphasis on reading opponents and making quick adjustments based on the unique probabilities.

Ultimately, whether Short Deck Poker is better depends on whether you enjoy the increased action, quicker pace, and strategic adjustments it demands. It’s worth trying both variants to determine which aligns better with your preferences and playing style.

What is the difference between short deck and Holdem?

Short-Deck Texas Hold’em poker is a simple variation of Texas Hold’em with a few changes that make it both faster-paced and full of high hands. It mostly follows the same rules as Texas Hold’em, but Short Deck is played with a 36-card deck rather than with a 52-card deck.

Short Deck, also known as Six Plus Hold’em, employs a 36-card deck with all the 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s removed. This alters hand probabilities, making higher-value hands more frequent due to the reduced deck. Consequently, hand rankings are adjusted to reflect this change, with a flush outranking a full house.

In contrast, Texas Hold’em employs a standard 52-card deck and is characterized by a greater number of playable hands. The traditional hand rankings, from high card to royal flush, remain intact in this version.

The altered deck composition in Short Deck significantly impacts strategy. Players must adapt to the increased likelihood of strong hands and adjust their pre-flop and post-flop decisions accordingly. Bluffing becomes less effective, and the game leans more toward value betting and aggressive play.

Overall, while both Short Deck and Texas Hold’em share the core principles of poker, the differences in deck composition, hand rankings, and resultant strategies make each variant a unique and intriguing challenge for players seeking diverse poker experiences.

How To Play Short Deck Poker

What are the odds in the short deck?

Short Deck Hold’em Odds

Overall, players have an 8.6 percent chance to get a pocket pair in Short Deck versus 5.9 percent in Texas Hold’em. The chances to hit a set are much more likely in Short Deck – a 12.7 percent chance to hit trips by the river.

In Short Deck poker, the odds and probabilities differ from traditional Texas Hold’em due to the altered deck composition. With the removal of the lower-ranking cards (2s through 5s), the frequency of certain hands changes, leading to shifts in the overall odds.

In Short Deck, the most notable change is the increased occurrence of strong hands like straights, flushes, and full houses. This is due to the fact that the smaller deck makes it easier to connect with these combinations. As a result, players tend to hit strong hands more frequently compared to standard Hold’em.

Calculating precise odds in Short Deck can be complex due to the non-standard deck composition and the evolving strategies associated with it. As with any form of poker, understanding the probabilities and adjusting your strategy accordingly remains essential for making informed decisions and gaining an edge at the table.

What are the strongest positions in poker?

The Button – Dealer (also classed as a LP)

In terms of advantage it is the best position in poker. After the flop the dealer always gets to act last in every round of betting for that game. Being in this situation means you have had the advantage of watching each player in the hand act before making your decision.

In poker, the position at the table greatly influences a player’s strategic advantage and decision-making potential. The strongest positions are typically considered to be the late positions: the “Button,” “Cutoff,” and “Hijack.”

The Button, situated immediately to the right of the dealer, is the most advantageous position. Players on the Button act last in every betting round post-flop, allowing them to gather valuable information about opponents’ actions before making their own decisions. This position enables them to control the flow of the hand and make more informed choices based on the actions of others.

The Cutoff and Hijack positions, which are a few seats to the right of the Button, also provide advantageous opportunities. Players in these positions have the ability to steal blinds and antes with a wider range of hands, given that fewer players act after them. This positional strength can be leveraged for both aggressive plays and well-timed bluffs.

Conversely, the earliest positions, such as the “Under the Gun” and “Under the Gun +1,” are considered weaker because players in these positions must act with limited information. Their decisions are made without knowing how others will play, which can lead to more cautious and selective betting.

Understanding and capitalizing on positional advantage is a key aspect of successful poker strategy. Players who master the dynamics of position can gain a significant edge by making better-informed decisions throughout the course of a hand.

What are the main rule changes in Short Deck Poker that players need to be aware of?

Short Deck Poker, also known as Six Plus Hold’em, introduces several rule changes that players must be aware of compared to traditional Texas Hold’em. The most significant alterations include the deck composition, hand rankings, and adjustments to certain gameplay mechanics.

Deck Composition: Short Deck is played with a 36-card deck, excluding the 2s through 5s. This leads to increased probabilities of strong hands like straights and flushes due to the reduced number of cards.

Hand Rankings: Hand rankings are adjusted to reflect the altered deck composition. In Short Deck, a flush ranks higher than a full house due to the higher difficulty of making a flush with fewer cards of each suit available.

Straights: In Short Deck, an “Ace-6-7-8-9” straight becomes possible, as an Ace can act as both the highest and lowest card in a straight.

Pairs: With fewer cards, the likelihood of hitting pairs increases. Therefore, a pair of Jacks or higher becomes a more valuable starting hand.

Blind Structure: Due to the more favorable odds of hitting strong hands, blinds and antes may be adjusted in Short Deck games to ensure balance.

Pre-flop Hand Selection: Given the altered odds, players need to adapt their pre-flop hand selection. Hands that are considered weaker in traditional Hold’em might become playable in Short Deck.

How To Play Short Deck Poker


Short Deck Poker injects a refreshing burst of excitement into the traditional poker landscape. Its streamlined deck and altered hand rankings demand a strategic shift from players, emphasizing adaptability and calculated risk-taking. As you’ve learned, this variant’s pace and dynamics create a unique atmosphere that rewards both skill and innovation.

Mastering Short Deck Poker requires a blend of understanding the modified rules and implementing nuanced strategies. The reliance on stronger hands means that bluffing and reading opponents become even more essential tools in your arsenal. The fusion of familiar concepts with new twists challenges players to evolve their tactics, fostering a deeper appreciation for the intricate dance between luck and skill that defines poker.

As you embark on your Short Deck Poker journey, remember to start with a solid grasp of the basics: the card eliminations, adjusted hand rankings, and modified odds. From there, practice and experience will refine your instincts and decision-making. Whether you’re aiming for casual enjoyment or competitive success, the insights gained from this guide will undoubtedly enhance your ability to navigate the dynamic world of Short Deck Poker. So, shuffle up and deal – adventure awaits at the vibrant intersection of tradition and innovation.

Author James Lopez