Six Plus Hold’em (6+), also called Short Deck Poker, is a community card poker game based on Texas Hold’em. While most of the rules are the same, there are three main differences between the two. In 6+ Hold’em, the cards from deuces through fives are removed to make the total deck just 36 cards instead of the usual 52.
Another difference is that because there are fewer cards in the deck, the hand ranking change: a Flush beats a Full House, and in most variants of Short Deck, a Set (or Three-of-a-Kind) is ranked higher than a Straight. Aces are played as both high and low, they can be used as a five to make a low-end Straight A6789 or above a King to make a Straight of AKQJ10.
This makes the game a lot more action-packed as the cards are higher, and there are more playable hands. Equities run very close to each other so the luck factor increases, and naturally this attracts a lot of recreational players.
Why You Should Learn Six Plus Hold’em
Over the past few months, the game has grown exponentially with both online and land-based operators offering this variant. It is available online on the iPoker Network which was one of the first international online poker networks to offer this variant. The network comprises of several rooms including bet365, William Hill, Titan Poker, Betfair, and several other rooms. Games are available at stakes starting from as low as 0.02/0.04 to all the way up to 0.50/1.
Americas Cardroom also recently added this game to its offering. In fact, it is the only site that is known to spread Short Deck online poker tournaments.
PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker site, is soon expected to launch Six Plus Hold’em as well.
As far as strategy is concerned, not many resources are available, and the perfect strategy is still being developed.
In our last article, we talked about hand rankings and explained briefly why a Flush is ranked higher than a Full House and why Straights happen more frequently. We also talked about the odds and probabilities and compared the odds of some of the hands between Short Deck and traditional Hold’em.
In this article, we’ll be talking about what hands you should be playing and some of the tips about Six Plus Hold’em that you must know.
Selecting Your Starting Hands
Before we talk about the strategy, it is important to understand how the hand strengths of Six Plus Hold’em compare to regular Hold’em. Since the low cards are taken out, the likelihood of getting dealt premium hands increases not just for you but also for your opponents.
As mentioned in our previous article, the odds of getting dealt Aces is almost double in Six Plus Hold’em than it is in regular Hold’em. Also, hands like other pocket pairs and premium hands like AK will be dealt more often. Playing pocket pairs like Queens or Jacks can become a little tricky as you are more likely to run into Aces or Kings.
On the other hand, the value of pocket pairs increases a lot if you are playing on a site where sets are ranked higher than Straights. Unless the board is paired or there are three cards of the same suit, Sets are the nuts and they play very well as there is no way for your opponent to know if you have hit a Set, unlike a Straight which can be easily spotted on the board.
Suited hands are a lot stronger than non-suited hands as they are basically the nuts in this game, since Flushes beat Full Houses. In fact, any Ace-high suited hand is playable from most of the positions, as if you do hit a Flush, the majority of the times it will be the best hand. Hands like suited QJ, JT, T9 or even 87 do very well in this game. In fact, JT suited is a slight favorite versus AK offsuit and almost a coin flip versus suited AK.
However, hands like AQ, AJ, AT offsuit, which are considered strong in regular Hold’em, are not so strong in this game.
So basically the type of hands you would want to play are premium pocket pairs and those which can make Sets, Full Houses or Flushes.
Tips for Beginners
Now that you know what hands to play, here are a few basic tips that you must remember while playing 6+ Hold’em:
Know the rules
Needless to say, if you’re switching to 6+ from Texas Hold’em, you must know the hand rankings. Unlike Texas Hold’em, where Full Houses beat Flushes, in 6+ Hold’em Flushes are almost the nuts (unless your opponent hits Four-of-a-Kind or better). Also, in many Short Deck variants that are offered online, Trips (a.k.a Three-of-a-Kind) beat Straights.
Also, you must remember that Aces can also play as fives when making a low-end Straight. Lots of players playing Short Deck for the first time make a mistake by folding a Straight because they do not realize that they have hit a Straight.
Straights are very common
The reason why Straights are ranked lower than Trips is because Straights are easier to make. And the reason why Straights are easier to make is that there are fewer cards in the deck, which increases the probability of hitting a Straight.
In 6+ hold’em, the probability of hitting an open-ended Straight by the River is close to 48% (almost a 16% higher probability than in Texas Hold’em).
However, you must remember that if you are playing on a site where Sets beat Straights, then you are basically drawing dead if your opponent has a Set or Trips. If there are more players in the hand, folding a Straight is not a bad play as there is a good chance that at least one of your opponents may have hit a Set. So Straights need to be carefully played.
Play pocket pairs aggressively
Since a Set is stronger than a Straight in this variant, you should play pocket pairs more aggressively and not be afraid to call 3-bets with any pocket pair. The probability of hitting a set once a Flop is dealt is 18% compared to 12% in regular Hold’em. Once you hit a Set, try to maximize your profit by overbetting since your opponents won’t know that you have hit a Set. You need to only worry about paired boards (that can give your opponent a higher Full House or Quads) and suited boards (which can give your opponent a Flush). Even keeping this in mind, Sets will often get you paid off most of the time.
However, you must also keep in mind that your opponent has a higher chance of hitting Sets too, so try to avoid Set over a Set.
Flushes are hard to hit
Flushes might rank higher than Full Houses but that is because they are harder to hit. Unlike Texas hold’em, where you still have 9 outs to hit a Flush, in Six Plus Hold’em you only have 5 outs (which is close to 32% by the River).
However, that does not mean you should not be playing suited cards at all. In fact, the value of suited cards in Short Deck Hold’em is a lot higher. Any suited Ace is playable from most positions and once you hit a Flush, you are likely to get paid as you almost always have the nuts.
Don’t overplay big pairs
Although we advocated for playing big pairs aggressively preflop, in Six Plus Hold’em, top pair (or even an overpair) with top kicker does not have the same value as it has in regular Hold’em. Even if you are ahead on the Flop, it is very likely your opponent may improve his/her hand by the River. Hence it is advisable to not overplay one pair hands after the Flop. Going all-in on the Flop with a pocket pair should be avoided as should betting for value on the River with most one pair hands.