Play Short Deck Poker Online – Best Sites, Rules & Strategy

Jeremy Olson profile picture
Sports Editor Fact Checked by Neil Roarty

Short deck poker, also known as 6 Plus Hold’em, is a unique Texas Hold’em variation that removes 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s from the deck. Its stripped-down poker deck makes for some interesting gameplay and strategy. Short deck is quite popular among Macau high-stakes poker pros, such as Tom Dwan and Phil Ivey.

You can check out the following short deck poker guide if you’re interested in learning about this game’s intricacies. The following page covers where to play short deck poker online, game rules, hand rankings, strategy, and more.

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The Best Short Deck Poker Sites to Play for Real Money

As of 2023, most of the online poker sites and casinos below don’t offer short deck poker. They’re all winners in our book, though, due to their overall poker offerings, bonuses, and customer support. We highly recommend that you try any of the following poker sites — especially BetOnline because it has short deck.

  1. BetOnline – Offers short deck poker and is the best all-around online poker room
  2. Bovada – Runs $1.5m in weekly guaranteed poker tournaments
  3. Everygame – Belongs to Horizon network and has short deck poker
  4. Ignition – Boasts the industry’s biggest online poker bonus and weekly freerolls
  5. – Has Chico poker network and supplies short deck poker

Comparison of the Best Short Deck Poker Sites

BetOnline Six Plus Holdem

BetOnline is our lone recommended provider for short deck poker. Other recommended picks offer a mixture of online poker and casino poker games. That said, the following comparison table features plenty of variation between the operators’ offerings. Also note that the bonuses vary between traditional online poker offers and casino welcome deals.

Casino/Poker Site Short Deck Hold’em Texas Hold’em Casino Poker Games Welcome Bonus
BetOnline 100% Poker Welcome Offer Up To $1,000
Bovada 100% First Time Deposit Match Up To $500
Everygame 200% Up To $1,000
Ignition 150% Poker Welcome Bonus Up To $1,500 100% Poker Welcome Bonus Up To $1,000

How to Play Short Deck Poker Online

Short deck hold’em is obviously different from Texas Hold’em because it only has a 36-card deck (versus 52 cards). Despite this huge difference, though, the short deck poker rules closely follow the ones in the Texas variation. Short deck only has a few notable gameplay discrepancies, including antes and an ace being high or low. You can see these rule nuances in action in the following step-by-step hand tutorial.

Step 1: Place a Preflop Ante Bet

Unlike Texas Hold’em, short deck doesn’t call for preflop small blinds and big blinds. Instead, it requires each player to make a preflop ante bet to join the hand. The button must place an additional ante in the pot (a.k.a. the “button blind”). If everybody must put in a $1 ante, for example, then the button places two $1 antes ($2 total).

Step 2: Preflop Round

Short deck poker rules resemble Texas Hold’em rules from this point on. Once the preflop round is over, the dealer will distribute two hole cards to each eligible player. Moving clockwise from the button’s right, every player gets an opportunity to place a preflop bet, check, or fold. No-limit short deck hold’em doesn’t place any restrictions on preflop bet sizes.

Step 3: The Flop

Following preflop play, the dealer will flip over three community cards (a.k.a. the flop). Another betting round ensues moving clockwise from the player to the button’s right.

Step 4. The Turn

Next, the dealer flips over the fourth community card (a.k.a. the turn). Another betting round occurs after the turn card is visible.

Step 5: The River

The river card is the fifth and final card on the board. Players now have one more chance to place bets and make it to the showdown. As with most card games, the highest poker short deck hand wins at showdown. Aces can be either the high or low card in a made hand, which comes into play during some straights.

Play Free Short Deck Poker Online

As seen above, the short deck poker rules aren’t too complex. Nevertheless, you may want to play a demo version to get a hands-on learning experience. BetOnline allows you to play short deck poker online for free. It offers a game called Six Plus Hold’em, which is just another name for short deck.

We highly suggest that you try short deck poker online for free before jumping into real-money action. You can develop a feel for the game this way without risking any money. Once you feel comfortable with the rules, you might consider depositing and testing your skills with money on the line.

Short Deck Hand Ranking

The short deck poker hand rankings differ from those in most other poker games because the odds are different. A short deck straight is rarer than a flush, for example, because of the deck composition. Short deck hand rankings take these differences into account so that less likely hands are more valuable.

Short Deck Poker

Another unique trait involves the ace, which can serve as high or low in any straight. For instance, an ace would act as 6 in a 10-9-8-7-A hand. Contrast this to standard hold’em, where the ace is only low in a wheel straight (5-4-3-2-A).

Below, you can see the short deck poker hand rankings:

  • Royal Flush (e.g., suited A-K-Q-J-10)
  • Straight Flush (e.g., suited Q-J-10-9-8)
  • Four-of-a-Kind (e.g., 7-7-7-7-5)
  • Flush (e.g., suited Q-J-9-7-6)
  • Full House (e.g., K-K-K-9-9)
  • Three-of-a-Kind (e.g., 10-10-10)
  • Straight (e.g., J-10-9-8-A [ace acts as 7])
  • Two Pairs (e.g., 8-8-7-7-J)
  • One Pair (e.g., 9-9-A-7-J)
  • High Card (e.g., non-suited A-Q-10-8-6)

What are the Short Deck Poker Odds?

Much like Texas Hold’em or Omaha, short deck poker doesn’t have a house edge like traditional casino games. Instead, it’s a zero sum game and will deliver profits to successful players. As a result, short deck poker odds depend upon the skill of the individual.

You can calculate your odds of getting certain hands with a short deck poker odds calculator. This lets you choose cards and find the likelihood of a made hand.

When flopping an open-ended straight draw, for example, you’ll have a 46% chance of completing your hand. In contrast, traditional 52-card poker only gives you a 32% chance of completing this flopped draw.

Comparing the Short Deck Poker House Edge to Other Poker Games

Short deck is similar to other zero-sum poker games in that it doesn’t have a house edge. Its odds vary based on your skill and the given poker room’s rake policy. Regarding the latter, a short deck poker cash game table with 5% rake is preferable to 6%.

The following sections cover short deck poker strategy and tips. If you want to be really good at short deck, then you should continue studying strategy beyond this page. The best players consistently work on improving their skills and slowly working up the stakes.

The Best Short Deck Poker Strategy

You can’t apply full-deck hold’em strategy to the short deck game and expect to be highly successful. Instead, you should take a specific approach to short deck poker strategy for optimal results. The following strategies will help you play better in live or online short deck poker.

Learn Starting Hand Values

Starting hand values are one of the most-basic strategy concepts in any poker game. The same holds true in short deck, where you want to know which hole cards have the most value. That said, you should check out short deck preflop charts to see the average win rate for starting hands.

Pocket kings, for example, win 27.1% of the time on a table with five opponents. J-10 suited is particularly interesting because it’s more valuable than Q-J suited and pocket jacks.

Understand the Post-Flop Value Differences

Once you learn starting hand values, the next logical step involves learning which hands have more post-flop value. Traditional hand rankings don’t apply to this game given the smaller deck. For example, a flush outranks a full house. Likewise, a three-of-a-kind ranks higher than a straight.

The Rule of 2 and 4 Becomes Rule of 3 and 6

An easy way to calculate Texas hand odds involves the rule of 2 and 4. You multiply flopped draws by 2 to get turn odds and multiply by 4 to get turn or river odds. For instance, a flopped open-ended straight draw (nine outs) has a 36% chance of completing by the turn or river.

This rule becomes 3 and 6 when it comes to six plus hold’em. When flopping a flush draw (five outs), you’ll have a 30% chance of completing it by the turn or river.

Great Cards Come Up More Often

Pocket aces and kings only turn up around 0.5% of the time in standard poker variations. But short deck delivers these strong pocket pairs about 1% of the time. As a rule of thumb, your odds of receiving any specific short deck hand double versus hold’em. Fewer low cards improves the chances of getting premium hands. That said, you shouldn’t go crazy with strong preflop short deck hands.

Top 5 Tips on How to Winning at Short Deck

Looking for more advice on how to win at short deck poker? The following tips provide a general roadmap on setting yourself up for future success.

1. Familiarize Yourself with the Game

Once you answer the initial question of ‘what is short deck poker?’, you’re ready to move on to playing the game. We suggest that you first play short deck poker online for free. The free version provides a feel for the rule and strategy differences without requiring any risk. Most online poker sites let you play for free after registration.

2. Start at the Low Limits

After getting comfortable with the free version, you should consider moving on to the real money tables. Real money short deck is more exciting than free games, and it offers the chance to win profits. Of course, we don’t suggest that you jump head-first into $10/$20 no-limit cash games. A better approach is to start with low-stakes online short deck poker and work your way up. Some sites feature cash game limits as low as $0.01/$0.02.

3. Study Lots of Short Deck Poker Strategy

You’re highly unlikely to beat this game if you don’t put effort into it. You’ll need to consistently study strategy to win more often with this game. Luckily, plenty of short deck poker strategy resources are available online. We suggest studying tips and training videos for one hour for every five hours played (1:5 ratio).

4. Adapt Your Game to Different Settings

Most six plus hold’em action revolves around cash games. However, you will find some short deck poker tournaments available across the industry. You should adapt your game to different formats and settings, most notably when moving between short deck poker online and live. The online setting entirely revolves around making reads based on your opponents’ betting patterns. Live game tells also heavily involve betting patterns, but they can include physical tells as well.

Phil Ivey Short Deck Poker Live Tournament

5. Develop a Bankroll Management Plan

Bankroll management plays a huge role in how long you last with any poker game. Therefore, you want to have a plan going into the matter to avoid losing your gambling funds. Generally speaking, you should choose short deck tournament stakes where you have enough to cover at least 100 buy-ins. With no-limit short deck cash games, you want enough to cover 30 full buy-ins (usually 100 big blinds).

Playing Short Deck on Mobile

You can play short deck poker online in the USA and beyond through mobile devices. Most online poker sites, including BetOnline, are compatible with Android and iOS devices. Therefore, you just need to visit the chosen poker room through an Android, iPhone, or iPad to get started. Some sites even have short deck poker apps, but not the majority.

Mobile short deck poker feels just like any other variation on a smartphone or tablet. The gameplay and mobile optimization will all depend upon the chosen operator. Typically, though, you’ll have a high-quality mobile experience at most poker sites.

More on Poker…

If you play short deck poker online, then you might be interested in some other variations. The following resources cover different types of poker, ranging from Omaha to video poker.

  • Best poker sites – Find out more on where you can enjoy entertaining online poker games.
  • Video poker online casinos – Learn about some of the industry’s best video poker sites.
  • Deuces Wild – Check out the video poker variation that has wild 2s and plenty of thrills.

Best Short Deck Poker Site in the US

BetOnline is hands-down the best choice for playing short deck poker. After all, it’s the only poker room among our recommended picks that offers this game. However, short deck availability isn’t the only reason why BetOnline is great. This poker site also excels in terms of bonuses, big poker tournaments, and cash game traffic.

It has a solid customer support team and many banking options to ensure fast deposits and easy withdrawals. You can register for free and deposit funds right away to claim the 100% poker bonus. Taking everything into consideration, we highly recommend that you play short deck poker at BetOnline.

#1 Short Deck Poker Site
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Jeremy Olson has been writing about online gambling since 2006. He started out covering online poker and eventually transitioned to casino games and sports betting.