Short Deck Poker: Our Quick and Friendly Guide

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Written by: Matt E.

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Short Deck Poker is played with a 36-card deck, eliminating all 2s through 5s. Which changes the game quite dramatically, as you can imagine. Short Deck Hold'em, also known as 6+ hold'em, has grown in popularity over the recent years and for a good reason.

Key Takeaways

  • Short Deck Poker uses a 36-card deck, removing all 2s through 5s
  • Flushes beat a Full-House.
  • 3-of-a-kind beats a straight
  • Aces are still used for high and low and are essentially used to replace the 5x now. So you can make a straight on the low with an A-6-7-8-9.

Originating in Asia, this thrilling variation of Texas Hold'em is a fast-paced game with more action and a higher probability of strong pre-flop hands, making it an exciting choice for both beginners and experienced players.

Short Deck Poker Rules

First, the main difference between Short Deck Poker and other poker games like Texas Hold'em is the deck size. In Short Deck Poker, the cards lower than 6 (2's, 3's, 4's, and 5's) are removed, leaving you with a 36-card deck. However, aces are still included and can be used as either high or low, similar to other poker games.

Aces are still included in Short Deck Poker, but they take on a new role. The Ace can act as both the high and low card, allowing for a straight like A-6-7-8-9.

Dealing and betting rounds are like Texas Hold’em. You have a pre-flop, flop, turn, and river round, where you can perform standard actions such as raise, call, fold, or check. The goal remains the same – form the best five-card hand and win the pot.

However, the hand rankings in Short Deck Poker differ and influence your strategy.

In this game, a flush beats a full house, and three-of-a-kind beats a straight.

Be prepared to adapt to these differences, as they affect the probability of hitting certain hands. For instance, the chances of flopping an open-ended straight draw are higher – 19% compared to 10% in a full-deck game.

Short Deck Poker Hand Rankings

You might be wondering how card rankings differ in Short Deck Poker compared to traditional poker. Well, we've got you covered! Let's dive into the Short Deck card rankings.

Here's a brief overview of the Short Deck Poker hand rankings:

  1. Royal Flush – The highest-ranking hand consisting of an ace-high straight flush (A-K-Q-J-10).
  2. Straight Flush – A sequence of five cards of the same suit, such as 9-10-J-Q-K.
  3. Four of a Kind – Four cards of the same value, like four queens.
  4. Flush – Five cards of the same suit, not in sequence.
  5. Full House – A hand with three of a kind and a pair, such as three aces and two kings.
  6. Three of a Kind – Three cards of the same value, such as three aces.
  7. Straight – Five cards of sequential value but not the same suit, like 6-7-8-9-10.
  8. Two Pair – A hand containing two sets of pairs, like two aces and two kings.
  9. One Pair – Two cards of the same value, like two queens.
  10. High Card – If no other hand can be made, the highest card in the hand determines the rank.
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It's important to note that in Short Deck Poker, a flush beats a full house since it is mathematically easier to hit a full house with the reduced number of cards in the deck.

Now that you have a better understanding of the card rankings in Short Deck Poker, keep these rankings in mind as you play and strategize. Good luck at the tables!

Gameplay For Short Deck Poker


In Short Deck Poker, the game starts with two players posting blinds, just like in traditional Texas Hold'em. The player to the left of the dealer (button) posts the small blind, and the next player to the left posts the big blind. Once the blinds are posted, each player is dealt two hole cards face-down.

Now, the betting action begins. Starting with the player to the left of the big blind, each player can choose to fold, call, or raise based on their hole cards' strength and their table position. The pre-flop betting round continues until all players have acted and either called, folded, or gone all-in.


After the pre-flop betting round is complete, the dealer deals three community cards face-up on the table, known as the “flop.” These cards are shared by all players in the hand to create the best possible five-card poker hand. Another round of betting takes place, beginning with the player to the left of the dealer button and continuing clockwise.

In Short Deck Poker, equities run closer due to the reduced deck size, which can lead to more aggressive betting and frequent confrontations. Players need to consider their hand's strength and opponents' likeliness to have strong hands at this stage.


Once the flop betting round is complete, the dealer places a fourth community card, known as the “turn,” face-up on the table. With the turn card revealed, another betting round takes place, starting with the player left of the dealer button.

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Following the turn betting round, the dealer reveals the final community card, the “river.” This card completes the community cards used by the remaining players to make their best possible hand. The final betting round commences, starting again with the player to the left of the dealer button.


After the river betting round, if two or more players remain in the hand, we reach the showdown. Starting from the last player who bet or raised, each player reveals their hole cards, and the winner is determined using standard poker hand rankings. In Short Deck Poker, it's essential to remember that a flush outranks a full house and three of a kind is less likely than a straight. Keep these hand rankings in mind as you participate in the showdown and analyze your opponents' hands.

Overall, Short Deck Poker gameplay closely resembles traditional Texas Hold'em, with a few key differences in deck size and hand rankings. By understanding the unique dynamics of Short Deck, you can adapt your strategy and excel in this engaging poker variant.

Short Deck Hold'em Strategy

Make sure you consider blockers when building out your short deck hold'em strategy. Since there are fewer cards in the deck, card removal and blockers become essential.

One of the first things you'll notice is that open-ended straight draws are more common in this game (19% compared to 10% in the full-deck version). It also becomes more likely to hit your outs—for instance, with an open-ended straight draw, your chance of hitting a straight by the river is 45.5% (compared to 31.5% in full-deck Hold'em).

Starting Hands and Position: As with any game of poker, starting hand selection and position are crucial. Since there are fewer cards in Short Deck, you'll be dealt better hands more often. So make sure you play in position more often, and lower your typical texas hold'em starting hands value. For example, KJ is not going to play as well in Short Deck as it does in Texas Hold'em overall.

Straights and Sets: You might notice that straights and sets are more common in Short Deck Hold'em. With only nine cards of each suit instead of thirteen, making a flush is harder, while straights are easier due to the reduced number of cards in the deck. Sets are more likely because there are fewer cards per rank. Keep this in mind and adjust your hand strength expectations accordingly.

Odds, Outs, and Probabilities: Since the deck is different, the odds, outs, and probabilities are different as well. For example, you have a higher chance of hitting a straight with an open-ended straight draw because there are fewer cards in the deck. This means you'll want to focus more on drawing to straights than flushes in Short Deck Hold'em.

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Full-House vs. Flush: Speaking of flushes, the hand rankings change in Short Deck. In this game, a flush beats a full house. Don't get caught in a big pot with a full house thinking you have the nuts; you could just be dominated by a flush.

Aggressive Play: Short Deck Hold'em is known for its action-packed nature, which means aggressive play is often rewarded. Since your opponents might also be playing more aggressively, you'll need to be prepared to fight back. Stay careful with your reads, look for solid opportunities to 3-bet and 4-bet, and don't be afraid to play back at your opponents when you have a strong holding.

With these strategies in mind, you're now more prepared to tackle the exciting world of Short Deck Hold'em. Just remember that practice makes perfect, so keep playing and adjust your strategies as you gain experience. Good luck out there!

In summary, Short Deck Poker offers an exciting new challenge for experienced players like you. Take these tips, gather your friends, and enjoy the fast-paced, action-packed world of Short Deck Poker.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the basic rules of Short Deck Poker?

Short Deck Poker, also known as Six Plus Hold'em, is a variant of Texas Hold'em played with a 36-card deck. All deuces through fives are removed, leaving cards six and up. The game follows a similar structure to traditional Texas Hold'em, with community cards, betting rounds, and showdown.

How does hand ranking differ in Short Deck?

With fewer cards in the deck, hand rankings in Short Deck Poker differ slightly from traditional Texas Hold'em. The main differences are a flush beats a full house, and a three-of-a-kind beats a straight. This is due to the altered probabilities of receiving specific hands in the shortened deck.

What are common Short Deck Poker strategies?

One important strategy is the use of blockers when making your decisions. Since there are fewer cards in the deck, blockers become even more important.

How do the odds change in Short Deck compared to traditional Texas Hold'em?

In Short Deck, the odds of receiving specific hands change due to the decreased number of cards. Flush draws, for example, have higher odds compared to Texas Hold'em because of the reduced number of suits in the deck. With fewer cards overall and an altered hand hierarchy, pot odds and implied odds calculations also change in Short Deck and require players to adjust their decision-making process accordingly.

Written by

Matt E.

I've been immersed in the world of poker since 2003. Poker is hard. It has undoubtedly been a roller coaster of experiences for me over the years. My poker journey spans from playing at .01/.02 NL tables to engaging in intense sessions at $5/$10. Poker isn't just a game to me—it's a passion. Outmaneuvering opponents in this test of mental strength and strategy offers an unparalleled thrill. To deepen my understanding of the game and to assist others, I initiated this blog. It aims to elucidate the ever-evolving technologies, strategies, and legal landscapes of poker, especially in the online realm. We're now in the age of solvers, but both online and live poker continue to thrive. A quick visit to a local $1/3 game would be ample evidence of its vitality. Regardless of your proficiency level, from novice to expert, I hope my blog posts offer you valuable insights. Feel free to engage with me through messages or by commenting on my posts. Cheers!

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