short deck poker rules

Short Deck Poker Rules – How to Play and What to Know

If you’re new to the action-packed world of Six Plus Hold’Em – we’re here to help! For beginners, we’ve come up with the ultimate guide on Short Deck poker rules, strategies, hand rankings, and everything else you might need to know before you sit down at the table.

What Is Short Deck Poker?

Short Deck poker, a variation of Texas Hold’Em, is also sometimes called Six Plus Hold’Em and it’s a game that has been around for a few years. In fact, the poker variant only entered the mainstream in 2019 when it became part of the World Series of Poker schedule for the first time.

One of the reasons Short Deck poker has gained so much popularity is that it offers much more action than other famous variants. If you already know how to play Texas Hold’Em, you should have no trouble picking up the Short Deck poker rules quickly.

With that said, the biggest difference between the original and the variant is in the size of the deck. In Short Deck poker, instead of the standard, 52-card deck, the game utilizes a 36-card deck. Hence the name – Short Deck. 

The new, shorter deck doesn’t contain any deuces, threes, fours, or fives, only cards from six and up. Since the game has a shorter deck, the hand rankings, starting hands, and strategies are quite different from regular Texas Hold’Em.

With that said, the gameplay and betting structure is pretty similar to Texas Hold’Em. 

Short Deck Poker Rules Explained

Before you start a game, you should have the Short Deck rules down pat. First, let’s see where Hold’Em and Six Plus are the same:

  • Each player receives two hole cards;
  • Each player has to make the best hand using two hole cards and three community cards;
  • Players can bet any amount of their stack at any moment;
  • Aces are high (sometimes);

As we said, like in Hold’Em, Aces are high, but they can make both the high and low end of straights. That means that the highest straight, or the Broadway, would still be A-K-Q-J-10. But the lowest straight would be 9-8-7-6-A and the Ace would take the place of a five.

Short Deck can be played between 2–10 players and the betting structure can be both fixed-limit and no-limit.

A major difference between Texas Hold’Em and Short Deck poker is that the latter uses a button blind structure. That means that every player has to post an ante and the player that’s on the button has to post a blind. 

Since there is only one blind per hand, it’s typically two to four times the size of the ante. To call preflop, players have to complete their ante to match the size of the blind.

Short Deck Poker Hand Rankings

When it comes to Short Deck poker rules, the biggest difference between the original and the variant is actually in the poker rankings. In Six Plus, a flush ranks higher than a full house and three-of-a-kind ranks higher than a straight.

Here are the new hand rankings, from lowest to highest, to remember:

Hand Name Poker Hand Example
High Card Ax-Qx-8x-9x-7x
One Pair A-A-Kx-9x-6x
Two Pair A♣-A♠-K-K-8x
Straight K-Q♠-J-10♣-9
Three of a Kind A-A♣-A♠-7x-6x
Full House A-A♣-A-Q♠-Q
Flush Q-J-9-7-6
Four of Kind A-A♠-A♣-A-10x
Straight Flush 10♣-9♣-8♣-7♣-6♣
Royal Flush A-K-Q-J-10


Short Deck Poker Strategies

Now that we have the Short Deck poker rules covered, let’s go over some basic strategies to help you in the next game.

Embrace the Draw

With a shorter deck and lots of face cards, you’re bound to hit draws much more often than you would in Texas Hold’Em. To ensure the best results, you can’t shy away from draws and have to embrace them.

Luckily, there is an easy way to calculate the odds of hitting a draw while on the flop and on the turn. For instance, on the flop in Texas Hold’Em, you can multiply the number of outs by two and by four on the river to calculate your percentage.

On the other hand, for Short Deck poker, those numbers change to about six on the flop and then three on the river. Say that you have 10 outs on the flop – you’d have approximately a 60% chance to improve by the river. However, on the turn, that chance would decrease to around 30%.

Ditch the Flush

In a game of Short Deck poker, it’s significantly more difficult to hit a flush than it is in Texas Hold’Em. That’s because there are much fewer cards in the deck from each suit. 

So with only nine cards of each suit, it’ll be pretty challenging to hit a flush draw. In fact, your chances of hitting are 30% by the river and 15% once the turn has been dealt. You should have those odds in mind because pursuing flush draws might cost you a sizable chip stack.

Focus on the Straight

On the other side of the deck, you have straights, which are much more common in Short Deck than they are in Texas Hold’Em. That’s because the deck is stripped down and it’s an important tip to remember because it’ll allow you to dominate the poker table.

That means that the open-ended straight draws at the flop are going to be one of the most powerful hands. You can also play them pretty aggressively as you would mostly have equity, even when your opponent calls.  

Embrace Overbetting

In Short Deck poker, overbetting is pretty common, and if you want to play an action-packed game, you shouldn’t avoid it. If you flop a big hand in Six Plus Hold’Em, the best way to protect it is to bet big or overbet. But before you do, determine whether your opponent has a big draw or if they’re sticky.

Back to Basics

While Short Deck poker rules and hand rankings might seem tricky at first, remember – it’s still poker. You just have to use the foundations that you picked up from Texas Hold’Em. Also, pay attention to the board, fend your big blind, and know when to be aggressive on the button.

To Sum Up Short Deck Poker Rules

If you want to practice your skills and nail down the Short Deck poker rules, you should head on to the CoinPoker lobby! We host some of the best and biggest cash games, tournaments, and promotions.

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