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. GTO+: Short Deck (6+) - modification of the program specifically for playing poker with a Short Deck. Changes compared to regular Holdem. For the short deck variant, the following changes have been made: 1) Cards 5 through 2 have been removed from the deck.

Recently I’ve been hearing about a new game called short deck. It’s played just like normal Texas hold’em, except it’s played with a short deck—all the cards deuce through five are removed from the deck. Aces play as the low end of a nine-high straight. Some variants reorder the hand rankings, most notably changing it so that flushes beat a full house.

When I first heard about it, it sounded to me like the new math would break a lot of players’ intuition they’ve built playing regular no-limit hold’em. So the first thing I wanted to do was go through how some of the math changes.

Let’s say you get dealt 10h 9h. Let’s go through the math of how often you flop straight and/or flush draws both for normal hold’em and then for short deck.

**Full Deck Draws**

Once you have your two cards, 50 cards remain in the deck. Three of these will appear on the flop, so there are 50 choose 3 total possible flops. (You can type 50 choose 3 into Google and it will give you the answer.) In this case, that’s 19,600 possible flops.

To flop a flush draw, you need two of the 11 remaining hearts on the flop, as well as an unrelated third card. So that’s 11 choose 2 times 39 (the number of non-hearts remaining in the deck). Since 11 choose 2 is 55, the total number of flush draw flops is 2,145. Divide that by the total number of flops, and you get about 11 percent, which is how often you will flop a flush draw.

To flop an open-ended straight draw you need either Q-J, J-8, or 8-7 on the flop—in each case also with an unrelated card. There are 16 ways to have Q-J (four queens times four jacks), and 16 ways each for the other two for 48 total ways.

If we specify that the unrelated card can’t be one that completes the straight, there are 40 possible unrelated cards for each of the 48 total ways to flop a straight draw. That makes 1,920 total straight draw flops. Divide that by the total number of flops, and you get about 10 percent, which is how often you will flop a straight draw.

**Short Deck Draws**

In short deck, there are 34 remaining cards after you get your two, so 34 choose 3 or 5,984 possible flops.

There are only 7 remaining hearts, so to flop a flush draw you have 7 choose 2 times 27 possible flops. That’s 567 flops or about 9.5 percent of flops. The full deck chance was 11 percent so flush draws are somewhat less common in short deck.

To flop a straight draw you still have your 48 ways to get Q-J, J-8, or 8-7 on the flop, but now there are only 24 unrelated third cards. That’s 1,152 total straight draw flops or about 19 percent. The chance of flopping a straight draw in short deck is much higher than it is with a full deck.

**Making The Draw**

Everyone knows the chance to make flush and straight draws in normal hold’em are nine and eight outs respectively. You can use the rule of two and four to estimate the chance of making the draws. But the exact way to figure it out is to do something similar to what we did on the flop. The only twist is you calculate the chance of missing the draw and then subtract that from one.

There are 47 choose 2 possible turn and river cards. That’s 1,081. If you have a flush draw (nine outs) then there are 38 cards that brick your draw, so you have 38 choose 2 ways to miss. That’s 703 total misses out of 1,081, or 65 percent. That leaves a 35 percent chance you hit your flush draw.

Straights work the same, except you have 39 cards that brick your draw. That’s 741 total misses, or 68.5 percent. That leaves a 31.5 percent chance of hitting the draw.

In short deck, there are 31 choose 2 possible turn and river cards. That’s 465. A flush draw has only five outs in this game. So there are 26 cards that brick your draw, and you have 26 choose 2 ways to miss, or 325. That’s about a 70 percent chance to miss, so it’s about a 30 percent chance to make a flush.

Open-ended straights still have 8 outs though. So there are only 23 cards that brick your draw, giving you 23 choose 2 ways to miss, or 253. That’s about a 54.5 percent miss percentage, so you hit your straight about 45.5 percent of the time.

That’s pretty close to 50-50! And you flop a straight draw to your connector nearly 20 percent of the time. Flushes are a bit harder to make in this game, but straights are much easier.

**Flopping A Set**

The odds of flopping a set change also in short deck. You can figure it out the same way as the chance of making draws—count the flops where you miss the set and subtract from one. With a full deck, there are 48 choose 3 ways to miss your set, or 17,296. That’s about 88 percent of flops, leaving about a 12 percent chance to flop a set.

In short deck, there are 32 choose 3 ways to miss your set, or 4,960 flops. Divide that by the 5,984 total possible short deck flops, and there’s about an 83 percent chance to miss, leaving a 17 percent chance to flop a set.

**Final Thoughts**

I don’t know how many of us will be playing short deck soon. The game is popular in only a small number of places, mostly in ultra high-stakes cash games. I think one reason it’s become popular in those games is because it turns your ingrained intuitions against you.

When you’ve played hold’em long enough, you begin to internalize the probabilities to make certain hands. You end up getting to the correct answer in many situations through intuition honed over zillions of hands.

Short deck wrecks a lot of those intuitions. The probabilities to make the basic hands are just plain different. Therefore hand values are different. The hands to semi-bluff with and bluff catch with and so on are also different. Blockers mean more in some contexts.

The basic concepts of poker are all the same. But the details of how to resolve conflicts between competing concerns is turned on its head.

Shaking things up in this way always tends to reward the best poker players. The ones who can adjust more quickly than anyone else. The ones who can figure things out rather than rely solely on learned intuition.

Doing the math in this article is the beginning of this process. ♠

*Ed’s newest book, The Course: Serious Hold ‘Em Strategy For Smart Players is available now at his website edmillerpoker.com. You can also find original articles and instructional videos by Ed at the training site redchippoker.com.*

If you take out from a deck the 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, and 5’s, you end up with a **short deck** of 36 cards. Playing poker variants with a short deck is what short-deck poker is all about. This simple modification changes a lot. First, it alters the hand ranking, as the likelihood of making different hands changes. Even more, playing with a short deck changes the dynamics and makes for **action-packed variants like 6+ Holdem **that is gaining popularity fast across the world!

You can play many poker variants using a short deck, but the most popular is **Short Deck Holdem **(or 6+ Holdem). Six-Plus Holdem resembles no-limit Holdem but is played with a short deck.

Packed with action, 6+ Holdem is an exciting variation that has captured the interest of many poker pros, like Tom Dwan and Phil Ivey, and has been introduced in major poker sites, like Pokerstars and Partypoker, and even in the World Series of Poker.

It is a general consensus that short stack poker originated in China. However, variants of the game have been also played in Greece, called Poka, using a deck of 32-40 cards and a modified hand ranking. The game gained popularity across the world since 2015, when Phil Ivey and Tom Dwan embraced 6+ Holdem, the Texas Holdem short deck equivalent, and promoted it.

In 6+ Holdem, the rules are very similar to regular Holdem. Each player is dealt two hole cards, and five community cards are dealt in three stages; three on the flop, one on the turn, and one on the river. Each step is accompanied by a betting round.

If the hand goes to showdown, the payer having the best possible five-card hand, using any combination of his hole cards and the community cards, wins the pot.

If you are unfamiliar with any of the specifics of the action and betting, you can check out here the rules for Texas Holdem.

However, there are **some important differences** in the rules that you need to know.

First and foremost, you must be careful as the **hand rankings differ **from the typical full deck hand rankings! This derives from the fact that, with a short deck, the likelihood of making various hands changes. Be careful, though, because the ranking rules may differ from place to place.

Flushes are more scarce than full-houses, and they rank higher in most casinos. Also, three-of-a-kind is rarer than a straight by the river (on the flop it is easier). However, in most cases, straights rank higher than three-of-a-kind.

Bellow is the hand ranking used in many poker sites, like Pokerstars and Partypoker, that was also used in the 2019 World Series Of Poker, Short Deck No-Limit Hold’em event. Keep in mind that the ranking used is not the same in all poker sites and casinos, so you must be careful!

Rank | Example | Hand Name | Probability |
---|---|---|---|

1 | A♥K♥Q♥J♥T♥ | Royal Flush | 0.02% |

2 | Q♣J♣T♣9♣8♣ | Straight Flush | 0.11% |

3 | Q♠Q♣Q♦Q♥A♠ | Four of a Kind | 0.57% |

4 | A♦J♦9♦8♦6♦ | Flush | 2.12% |

5 | 9♠9♣9♦J♠J♥ | Full House | 7.59% |

6 | 9♣8♥7♠6♠A♥ | Straight | 14.14% |

7 | 9♣9♥9♦7♥6♠ | Three of a Kind | 7.25% |

8 | A♣A♥T♣T♦7♦ | Two Pair | 38.3% |

9 | K♣K♥J♠T♥6♦ | One Pair | 27.74% |

10 | A♥K♣J♠9♦7♦ | High Card | 2.81% |

Another important difference lies in the structure of the forced bets. Again, there is no standard structure, and the forced bets may differ in various poker sites and casinos. However, it is common to see an **ante and a button blind**, instead of a small and big blind structure. In this case, the player at the left of the button acts first preflop.

Like in standard Holdem, aces can make the highest possible straight, and the lowest. So, in 6+ Holdem, 9876A also counts, and is the lowest possible straight!

Let’s take a look at some basic strategic considerations

The first thing to notice is that it is much **easier to make big hands**, like full houses and even quads! Waiting to make quads in full deck Holdem can take for ages. However, in short deck poker, making monster hands is not that rare! This is the main reason that makes the game fun and the action fast!

In theory, making strong hands should not affect the action. You will still make a 10% or better hand, well, 10% of the time. However, reality differs.

In Texas Holdem, more often than not, players miss the flop, and the action becomes limited. It is easier to let go of your hand when you flop little or nothing, like a high card or bottom pair. In contrast, in 6+ Holdem, mediocre hands look better! Therefore, inexperienced players can get carried away and give more action than what is justified.

The second thing to notice is that draws change drastically! **Flush draws become harder to make **as you only have five outs to make them (instead of 9). Even if flushes are harder to make, **they can break a full-house, and can win huge pots**!

Online casino slots for real money. On the contrary, straight and full-house draws become easier to make. With **straights** ranking higher than three-of-a-kind, they **become a great hand** as it is easier to make and, at the same time, outrank a set. If you have an open-ended straight draw on the flop, you can make it by the river about 45.6% of the time!

Therefore, connected cards and even one-gappers are strong starting hands. Keep in mind that in unpaired boards, it becomes very likely that one or more opponents have a straight, so you should be cautious. Also, don’t forget that a low straight with an ace is possible.

In the tutorial on Counting Poker Outs, we saw that we can use the rule of 4 and 2 to make a quick estimation of the probability that you will hit one of your outs. As in short deck Holdem, there are about two-thirds of cards in the deck to draw from, the probabilities to hit an out are multiplied by a factor of 1.5. Therefore, we can use the same technique to make a quick estimation of the percentage of hitting a draw but use 6 and 3 as multipliers. So,

**With one card to come, multiply your outs by 3**(from flop to turn, or from turn to the river)**With two cards to come, multiply your outs by 6**(from flop to river, useful in all-in situations when no more betting is to be considered).

In no-limit Holdem, when someone is the first player to put money into the pot voluntarily, he mostly open-raises, and rarely limps. In Short Deck Holdem, open limping with some hands becomes also a viable option, as with the antes you get huge pot odds to try to limp.

In Short Stack poker, having a blocker decreases the probability that your opponents will make their hand more than in regular Holdem. With fewer cards in the deck, outs count about 50% more and blockers do too. For example, consider that you have a flush draw on the turn. If your opponent has no blocking cards, you have 5 outs out of 28 remaining cards, or 17.9% chance of making your flush. If he has one card of the suit that you draw to, you now have 4 outs, or about 14.3% chance of making it, significantly less!

The same goes for different types of blockers, like straight blockers.

In 6-plus Holdem, you get dealt about 46% more often a pocket pair, so about once every 11 or 12 hands. Even more, in Short-Deck Holdem, **pocket pairs hit a set or better about 25% of the time **(instead of 17% of the time in no-limit Holdem)!

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