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Short Deck Poker Rules

Short Deck Poker Rules - Learn the Game That Took the Spotlight

Card games in casinos follow the tried and tested route - you’ve got your blackjack, poker, and baccarat. But, a lot of seasoned players, especially those into hold ‘em poker, grew tired of the game and are now learning the short deck poker rules.

But, what is short deck poker, why has it grown in popularity, and how does it differ from traditional poker? If you’re one of the poker players looking to get into this game, read on, as we explain its rules, rank the poker hands, and give out some useful tips on winning your first short deck poker games.

What is Short Deck Poker and Why Its Popularity Is Soaring

Short deck poker is a spin on the classic Texas hold ‘em poker game where, instead of 52 cards, the deck consists of just 36 cards - sixes to aces. Hence the “short” in the name.

It’s often called six-plus hold 'em due to the cards going six and up. Other common names for this game are short-deck hold 'em and Manila, the latter of which became widely accepted in 2010.

The game originated in Asia where it’s still popular among high-stakes gamblers. Only in 2018 has short deck poker gone mainstream around the world, with its global tour starting in Australia and spreading to Europe and the United States.

The game quickly caught the attention of seasoned players who grew tired of the same old hold ‘em variants and wanted a similar style of casino game but with a different pace. It’s more exciting to play since the shorter deck makes it easier to hit high-value hands.

Short Deck Poker Rules

Short Deck Poker Rules Explained

Like other poker games, short deck poker can be played with just two players but can go up to 10 players. This makes it a great parlour game, as well as a great choice for lobby play in online casinos.

To play, you need a standard 52-card deck from which you remove all the 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s, leaving a total of 36 cards to play with.

A round of short deck poker goes pretty much the same as Texas hold ‘em:

  • Each player is dealt two cards.
  • The dealer reveals three community cards (flop).
  • Two more rounds - turn and river - are played, with one more public card being added each round.
  • Betting rounds occur after the flop, turn, and river.

Betting-wise, short deck poker differs from the standard hold ‘em game thanks to its “button blind” format. There are no small/big blinds in this game. Instead, the player on the button posts a blind bid while other players ante up and then need to match the size of the blind if they wish to call a preflop.

Ranking of cards and hands is also different. Due to the number of cards in play, a typical six-plus hold ’em strategy involves going for a straight instead of three-of-a-kind. In fact, the odds differ so much that even a suited hand or a pocket pair aren’t such strong starting hands.

Short Deck Poker Hand Rankings

While a game of short deck poker is played with fewer cards than the traditional hold ‘em, the poker hand rankings are pretty much the same. That is, with one important difference - in a short deck, a flush is stronger than a full house.

Since the whole deck is just 36 cards, that means each suite is represented by just 9 cards instead of 13. Hitting a flush is, therefore, a more difficult task but also a more rewarding one, hence why it’s ranked higher.

Here are all the short deck poker hands, ranked from weakest to the strongest:

  • High card: The highest value card in the player’s hand.
  • One Pair: Two cards of the same value.
  • Two Pair: Two cards of the same value and another two cards that share the same value.
  • Three-of-a-Kind: Three cards of the same value.
  • Straight: Five consecutive-valued cards that don’t share the same suit.
  • Full House: A combination of a Pair and Three-of-a-Kind.
  • Flush: Five cards of the same suit.
  • Four-of-a-Kind: Four cards of the same value.
  • Straight Flush: Five cards of consecutive values and in the same suit.
  • Royal Flush: A combination of Ace, Kind, Queen, Jack, and a 10, all in the same suit.

Now, it’s important to note that further deviations from these rules exist. Some casinos have house-ruled to have straight ranked lower than three-of-a-kind, for example, or even use Ace as a low card instead of a high card.

It’s also common to see hands ranked by Texas Hold ‘Em rules so, ultimately, it’s all about where you play. Always make sure you’ve checked the rules and short deck poker hand rankings when you sit down to play a game.

Short Deck Poker Strategy: Basic Tips to Master the Game

Moving onto short deck poker from other types of poker isn’t overly difficult, especially for players with a lot of experience with Texas Hold ‘em. Most strategies and concepts from that game transfer well into this shorter format, easing new players well into the game.

But, mathematically, it’s a completely different beast. There are a few important tips and strategies to remember.

Use the Rule of 3 and 6

You can easily estimate your odds of winning a hand by using the 3-6 rule instead of the rule of 4 and 2 from Hold ‘em poker. It’s all about knowing the number of your outs and then you either multiply that number by 3 on the turn or by 6 on the flop.

Say you have a 5-out draw. On the turn, your chance to hit would be 15%, while on the flop you have a 30% chance of hitting on the river. While these aren’t exact odds, they’ll give you a rough understanding of your odds to hit and help you plan out your short deck poker strategies.

Focus More on a Straight

As you can imagine, hitting a flush with fewer cards in the deck is quite a challenge. It’s also the reason why flush is stronger than full house.

But, focusing on hitting a straight is a good strategy for big wins since it’s actually a bit easier to hit a straight in a short deck than in classic poker. A good short deck poker strategy is to play aggressively on a straight draw as your chances of making a straight can go up to 45% after the river.

Don’t Rely on Single Pair Hands

One strategy that doesn’t translate well from other poker variants is reliance on pocket pairs. Rookie players often forget that, after the flop, it’s very common to see players going for a straight, as mentioned above.

The smaller number of cards also means that, if you end up with only a high pair, there’s less of a chance of you collecting the pot. Even trying to bully with a high pair rarely works as a strategy since players typically play to hit outs on a flop.

Connected hands are, therefore, better. Getting a set like 89, JQ, or 10J ensures that you’ll have more options during the game, raising your odds to 20% for flopping an open-ended draw.

The Bottom Line

Poker as a game continues to evolve and short deck hold ‘em is the next logical step for both the game and the players. This high-stakes high-scoring game is ideal for players on the hunt for thrilling new experiences while locking down the fundamentals of the game.

Now that you know how to play short deck poker, it’s just a matter of picking a casino where you can play poker online and test your mettle against other players. Good luck and have fun!