PokerStars has launched its long-awaited new game, called 6+, its version of the game known as Short Deck Poker or Six Plus Hold’em.

PokerStars has launched its long-awaited new game, called 6+, its version of the game known as Short Deck Poker or Six Plus Hold’em.

The game is now live in Denmark, Estonia and for free-play on the dot-net client, pokerfuse can exclusively reveal.

It will launch in the UK and Sweden, and for players internationally on the global dot-com and dot-EU player pools tomorrow, Wednesday the 16th.

Playing 6+

Players will find the new games in the lobby under a new dedicated 6+ tab. The game is played on six-max tables.

Just like all PokerStars new games, players choose their table via a “blind lobby” system—they simply select their buy-in level and hit “play now” to be taken to the best available seat. Table and seat selection is not available.

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Currently, only two buy-ins are available in the real money Denmark lobby—$4 and $10. Presumably this will be expanded to higher stakes once the company is confident that the deployment has been successful.

At the time of writing, only cash games are available, there has been no official announcement of whether sit and go or tournament formats for 6+ are in the pipeline.

Rules and Strategy

In 6+, the deuces through fives are removed from the deck. This creates more action-packed games, as players can make bigger hands. Correct strategy dictates a loose play style, and equities between hands are smaller.

The game plays much like traditional Texas Hold’em, though usually with a few rules changes. PokerStars employs three:

  • The low straight can be made with an ace—so A6789 is a legitimate hand.
  • Flushes rank higher than Full Houses.
  • The game is played with an ante, and the button posts an additional ante that acts as the only blind.

Unlike some spreads of Short Deck, in PokerStars’ 6+ three of a kind still ranks lower than a straight.

In the $4 game spread for real money in Denmark right now, antes and blinds are 2 cents; In the $10 game, the antes and blinds are 5 cents, so in both cases, plays sit with a mandatory 200 antes.

What the Operator Is Saying

“6+ is an exciting poker variant that often produces big hands and a lot of action, so we’re excited to bring it to the tables,” said Chris Straghalis, Director of Poker Product at PokerStars, in a statement to pokerfuse.

“While the format has proven popular with high stakes players, the range of stakes available on PokerStars and similarities to hold’em mean that it should appeal to those who may want to try a new game but don’t want something too different. We’re looking forward to seeing what people think,” he added.

Path to Launch

Pokerfuse revealed that Six Plus Hold’em was going to be released some five months ago.

Normally, games are launched soon after we spot them, but 6+ was sidelined for other cash game novelties. Fusion, a game that blended elements of Hold’em and Omaha, was launched instead.

Last week, we then revealed that 6+ was finally moving towards launch, and Fusion was taken down just a few days ago to seemingly make room.

Will it be Permanent?

Now that 6+ has finally launched for real money, the question is whether PokerStars plans to make the game permanent or not. The operator has launched four cash game variants in similar fashion in the last year, and each of them only lasted a couple of months. The operator talked up the benefits of limited edition games.

However, it is also clear that PokerStars would love another breakout hit, much like Fast Fold (aka Zoom) and Lottery Sit and Gos (aka Spin and Gos). And when it hits on that big win, we can be sure it will stay around permanently.

PokerStars made no mention of its permanency (or lack thereof) ahead of launch, so we are left guessing. But there is good reason to believe that 6+ will be a big hit.

Firstly, this is not a unique PokerStars innovation: It is already spread online by smaller competitors (including US-facing WPN and the iPoker network). It has also proved popular live.

It is also a very simple game to pick up—the rules are Hold’em, with just a couple of tweaks. But those tweaks also open up a raft of new poker strategy—indeed, you would probably do best throwing out everything you know about Hold’em strategy and starting again with 6+—the probabilities are very different and the game plays very differently.

Throw in the fact that this is an action game—particularly with the ante+blind structure—and how close hand values run together, and you have a potent mix that may cause the game to be hugely successful.