What Is Short Deck Poker & How To Play?

Poker has seen many variations over the years, each bringing its own unique flavour to the game. One such variation that has gained significant traction in recent times is Short Deck Poker. Also known as 6+ Hold’em, Short Deck Poker is a thrilling variant that has captured the attention of both casual players and seasoned pros alike.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the intricacies of Short Deck Poker, exploring its rules, strategies, hand rankings, and where to play it online. Whether you’re a newcomer curious about this exciting variant or an experienced player looking to sharpen your skills, this article aims to provide valuable insights to enhance your Short Deck Poker journey.

What is Short Deck Poker?

Short Deck Poker is a variant of Texas Hold’em where the deck is stripped of all cards valued 2 through 5, leaving only 36 cards in play instead of the standard 52. This alteration significantly impacts the game dynamics, as it increases the frequency of strong hands and alters hand rankings. In Short Deck Poker, flushes beat full houses, and a straight outranks a three-of-a-kind. Additionally, an Ace can serve as either the highest or lowest card in a straight.

How to Play Short Deck Poker?

The gameplay of Short Deck Poker closely resembles that of traditional Texas Hold’em, with a few notable differences due to the shortened deck. Players are dealt two hole cards, just like in Hold’em, followed by a round of betting. Then, three community cards are dealt face-up on the flop, leading to another round of betting. This is followed by the turn (fourth street) and the river (fifth street), each accompanied by a round of betting.

The goal remains the same as in traditional poker: to form the best possible five-card hand using a combination of hole cards and community cards. However, players must adjust their strategies to account for the altered hand rankings and increased likelihood of hitting strong hands.

Short Deck Poker Strategies

Given the unique dynamics of Short Deck Poker, strategic adjustments are essential for success in this variant. Here are some key strategies to consider:

  1. Aggression: Due to the increased prevalence of strong hands, aggressive play is often rewarded in Short Deck Poker. Players should be willing to bet and raise with strong holdings to build the pot and extract value from opponents.
  2. Hand Selection: With fewer cards in play, starting hand requirements are adjusted in Short Deck Poker. Players should be more inclined to enter pots with strong drawing hands and premium holdings, such as high pairs and suited connectors.
  3. Positional Play: Positional awareness is crucial in Short Deck Poker, as it allows players to capitalise on their opponents’ actions and control the flow of the hand. Players in late position have a strategic advantage and can leverage this by playing more hands and applying pressure on their opponents.
  4. Pot Odds and Implied Odds: Calculating pot odds and implied odds becomes even more important in Short Deck Poker, given the increased likelihood of hitting strong hands. Players should carefully assess the potential profitability of their drawing hands and make informed decisions based on the available odds.
  5. Bluffing: While bluffing remains a viable strategy in Short Deck Poker, players should be selective about when to bluff due to the higher frequency of strong hands. Bluffs are most effective when executed with a strong understanding of opponents’ tendencies and board texture.

Short Deck Poker Opening Ranges

Determining optimal opening ranges is essential for success in Short Deck Poker. Due to the altered hand rankings and increased likelihood of hitting strong hands, players should adjust their opening ranges accordingly. Generally, players should be more selective about the hands they choose to play preflop, focusing on premium holdings and strong drawing hands.

Some recommended opening ranges in Short Deck Poker include:

  • High Pairs (e.g., AA, KK, QQ)
  • Suited Broadways (e.g., AK, AQ, AJ)
  • Suited Connectors (e.g., JT, 98, 87)
  • High Suited Aces (e.g., AJs, ATs, A9s)
  • Pocket Pairs (e.g., 99, 88, 77)

It’s essential to adapt opening ranges based on factors such as position, stack sizes, and opponents’ tendencies to maximise profitability.

Short Deck Hand Rankings

Understanding hand rankings is fundamental to success in Short Deck Poker, as they differ from traditional poker due to the stripped deck. Here’s a breakdown of the hand rankings in Short Deck Poker:

  1. Royal Flush: A, K, Q, J, 10 of the same suit.
  2. Straight Flush: Five consecutive cards of the same suit.
  3. Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same rank.
  4. Full House: Three cards of one rank and two cards of another rank.
  5. Flush: Five cards of the same suit, not in sequence.
  6. Straight: Five consecutive cards, regardless of suit.
  7. Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same rank.
  8. Two Pair: Two cards of one rank and two cards of another rank.
  9. One Pair: Two cards of the same rank.
  10. High Card: The highest card in the hand if no other hand is made.

It’s important to note that flushes beat full houses in Short Deck Poker, and aces can be used as high or low cards in straights.

Where to Play Short Deck Online?

Short Deck Poker has gained popularity in recent years, leading many online poker platforms to offer this exciting variant. Some popular online poker sites where you can play Short Deck Poker include:

  1. PokerStars: One of the largest online poker platforms, PokerStars offers a variety of Short Deck Poker games and tournaments.
  2. GGPoker: Known for its innovative poker offerings, GGPoker features Short Deck Poker tables with various stakes and formats.
  3. partypoker: Another reputable online poker site, partypoker hosts Short Deck Poker games catering to players of all skill levels.

Before joining a Short Deck Poker table online, be sure to familiarise yourself with the rules and strategies specific to this variant to maximise your chances of success.


Short Deck Poker offers a refreshing twist on traditional Texas Hold’em, providing players with a fast-paced and action-packed gaming experience. With its altered hand rankings and unique dynamics, Short Deck Poker requires strategic adjustments to excel. By implementing sound strategies, understanding hand rankings, and adapting to the nuances of the variant, players can enhance their chances of success in Short Deck Poker.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newcomer eager to explore new poker variants, Short Deck Poker offers endless opportunities for excitement and challenge. So, dive into the world of Short Deck Poker and experience the thrill of this captivating variant firsthand.


Is Short Deck Poker more profitable than traditional Texas Hold’em?

  1. While Short Deck Poker offers the potential for lucrative opportunities due to its altered dynamics, profitability ultimately depends on various factors, including skill level, strategy, and luck.

Are there any differences in betting structures between Short Deck Poker and traditional Hold’em?

  1. The betting structures in Short Deck Poker typically follow the same formats as traditional Hold’em, including no-limit, pot-limit, and fixed-limit variations.

What are some common mistakes to avoid in Short Deck Poker?

  1. Common mistakes in Short Deck Poker include overvaluing weak hands, neglecting positional play, and failing to adjust strategies based on the altered hand rankings.

Can I use traditional Hold’em strategies in Short Deck Poker?

  1. While some strategies from traditional Hold’em may apply to Short Deck Poker, players must adapt their approaches to account for the unique dynamics and altered hand rankings of the variant.

Is Short Deck Poker available in live casino settings?

  1. Yes, Short Deck Poker is available in some live casino settings, offering players the opportunity to enjoy the variant in a physical casino environment.

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