Short Deck Poker Starting Hand Rankings

  1. Short Deck Poker Starting Hand Rankings Chart
  2. Best Starting Hands In Short Deck Poker
  3. Short Deck Poker Starting Hand Rankings 2017
  4. Best Poker Starting Hands
  5. Short Deck Poker Online
  6. Poker Starting Hand

Several well known players on the Poker scene have been promoting Short Deck Hold'em with Phil Ivey claiming the game 'suits a more gambling style of player', which I would agree with as the.

What is Short Deck Poker?

  • Short Deck Hand Rankings. Check out the below hand rankings, specific to Short Deck, from strongest to weakest. Please note that short deck hand order differs from the official poker hand rankings which you can find on the dedicated page.
  • Official Poker Hand Rankings Know your poker hand order. A poker hand consists of five cards, which fall into several categories. Below is the complete list of poker hands, from highest to lowest. Please note that hand rankings for Short Deck are slightly different. Find out more about the short deck poker hand rankings on the dedicated page.
  • An Illustrative Hand. This hand illustrates the wildly different pre flop equities we witness when playing short deck hold’em. It comes from the recent Triton Poker Series in Jeju, South Korea, during a Short Deck Ante Only tournament. The antes are 3,000 each hand,except the button who pays 6,000.

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.

Who invented short deck 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.

What are the rules of Six-Plus Holdem?

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.

Flushes rank higher than full-houses

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!

Modified Hand Rankings for six-plus Holdem

RankExampleHand NameProbability
1A♥K♥Q♥J♥T♥Royal Flush0.02%
2Q♣J♣T♣9♣8♣Straight Flush0.11%
3Q♠Q♣Q♦Q♥A♠Four of a Kind0.57%
59♠9♣9J♠J♥Full House7.59%
7999♦7♥6♠Three of a Kind7.25%
8A♣A♥TT♦7♦Two Pair38.3%
9KKJ♠T♥6♦One Pair27.74%
10A♥K♣J♠9♦7♦High Card2.81%

Antes and a Button Blind

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.

Aces can still make low straights!

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

Short Deck Poker Starting Hand Rankings Chart

Hand Value is Different

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.

Draws Change Drastically

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!

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.

The Rule of 4 and 2, becomes the Rule of 6 and 3

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).

Limping becomes an option

Best Starting Hands In Short Deck Poker

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.

Blockers count more!

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.

Pocket pairs go up in value!

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)!

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.

Short Deck Poker Starting Hand Rankings 2017

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:

Best Poker Starting Hands

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).

Girafganger7 poker. 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

Short Deck Poker Online

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

Poker Starting Hand

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.