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Short Deck Odds

  1. Short Deck Poker Odds Calculator - Six Plus Hold'em Odds
  2. Short-Deck Poker: Description, Rules And Hand Rankings
  3. Short-Deck Poker Strategy - Odds Shark
Martin Harris

Short Deck Poker Odds Calculator - Six Plus Hold'em Odds

One of the games that have seen a flurry of interest over the last few months is Six Plus Hold’em, also referred to as Short Deck Poker. Six Plus Hold’em is an exciting and fun poker variant based on Texas Hold’em where the game is played with a deck of 36 cards as opposed to the usual 52 cards in traditional hold’em. Short Deck Hold’em vs. No-Limit Hold‘em. Short Deck Hold’em – also known as Six Plus (6+) Hold’em – is No-Limit Hold’em played with a stripped-down deck.All of the deuces to fives are removed to make the total deck just 36 cards.

In this series we are offering various strategy advice for short deck hold'em, also sometimes called six plus hold'em (or 6+ hold'em), including sharing tips from some of the pros who have found the game a fun and challenging poker variant to play.

Before we delve any further into strategy, with this article we're going to highlight some of the more interesting and notable odds and probabilities in short deck hold'em. In particular, we'll point out how those odds and probabilities differ from what you encounter in regular, full deck hold'em, which in turn creates some important differences when it comes to strategy.

Short Deck Hold'em (Six Plus Hold'em): Rules and Hand Rankings

As discussed last week, short deck hold'em tosses out all of the fives, fours, threes, and twos, creating a 36-card deck with which to play. The game is played just like regular hold'em, with players being dealt two hole cards and making hands with the five community cards dealt as a flop, turn, and river. Also, as in regular hold'em the ace can be high or low, meaning in short deck A-6-7-8-9 makes a straight.

Short Deck Poker Odds Calculator - Six Plus Hold'em Odds How to use Six+ Odds to improve your game By using Six+ Odds, you will boost your odds knowledge about 6+ Hold’em, you will improve the quality of your thinking process, and thus, your decision playing Short Deck. Here is how you can use this poker odds calculator to improve your game. Our team of highly-skilled, professional contractors will make your design a reality. Using only the most up-to-date building techniques and efficient construction management practices, your home will be built on-time and within budget. Oct 26, 2018 One of the games that have seen a flurry of interest over the last few months is Six Plus Hold’em, also referred to as Short Deck Poker. Six Plus Hold’em is an exciting and fun poker variant based on Texas Hold’em where the game is played with a deck of 36 cards as opposed to the usual 52 cards in traditional hold’em.

The big change from regular hold'em comes from the hand rankings being altered. In short deck, flushes rank above full houses, and depending on the game it is sometimes the case that three of a kind beats straights.

Regular hold'emShort deck (straights beat trips)Short deck (trips beat straights)
Royal FlushRoyal FlushRoyal Flush
Straight FlushStraight FlushStraight Flush
Four of a KindFour of a KindFour of a Kind
Full HouseFlushFlush
FlushFull HouseFull House
StraightStraightThree of a Kind
Three of a KindThree of a KindStraight
Two PairTwo PairTwo Pair
One PairOne PairOne Pair
High CardHigh CardHigh Card

The reason for these changes has to do with the fact that in short deck the probabilities of making certain hands are different. In short deck, it is actually easier to make a full house than a flush, which is why flushes rank higher than full houses. (The opposite is true in regular hold'em.) It is also easier to make a straight than to make trips in short deck, which is why some rank three of a kind higher than a straight.

If you're curious to explore the math here further, a poster on the TwoPlusTwo forum helpfully sorted out all the hand frequencies in short deck hold'em in a post titled 'Six Plus Hold-Em Hand Rankings.'

While some short deck games use small and big blinds just like in regular hold'em (with or without antes), others have introduced another twist by removing the blinds and having all players ante, with the button putting in a double-ante and play beginning before the flop with the player left of the button having an option to call, fold, or raise.

Short Deck Hold'em (Six Plus Hold'em): Preflop Probabilities

If you're a regular hold'em player, you're probably well acquainted with probabilities related to starting hands, and therefore know the chances of getting dealt pocket aces (1 in 221), a pocket pair (1 in 17), or two cards of the same suit (1 in 4.25). But what happens to those preflop probabilities after the fives through deuces are removed from the deck?

As you might imagine, reducing the deck from 52 cards down to 36 cards also reduces the number of different starting hand combinations there are.

Whereas in regular hold'em there are 1,326 distinct starting hands, in short deck hold'em there are only 630 distinct starting hands — less than half (about 47.5 percent). That's counting suits as distinct, which isn't generally done when valuing starting hand strength.

If we don't consider suits as distinct, in regular hold'em there are just 169 combinations of starting hands (13 pocket pairs, 78 non-paired suited hands, and 78 non-paired unsuited hands). Meanwhile when not considering suits as distinct, in short deck hold'em there are just 81 combinations of hands (9 pocket pairs, 36 non-paired suited hands, and 36 non-paired unsuited hands) — again, less than half as many in short deck versus regular hold'em (about 47.9 percent).

Fewer starting hand combos obviously affects the frequency with which you are dealt specific hands. For example, when it comes to being dealt pocket aces, that happens about twice as often in short deck hold'em — once every 105 hands (just under one percent of the time).

Pocket pairs come around more frequently in short deck, too — once every 11.66 hands (about 8.6 percent of the time). That's almost 1.5-times as often as in regular hold'em.

Meanwhile in short deck you're dealt suited hands at just about the same frequency as in regular hold'em — once every 4.375 hands (or about 22.8 percent of the time).

Here is all of that in table form, with a couple more comparisons of probabilities added to the list:

Regular hold'emShort deck (Six Plus) hold'em
Number of cards used5236
Distinct starting hands1,326630
Distinct non-equivalent starting hands16981
Probability of being dealt pocket aces0.45% (1 in 221)0.95% (1 in 105)
Probability of being dealt any pocket pair5.9% (1 in 17)8.6% (1 in 11.66)
Probability of being dealt any suited hand23.5% (1 in 4.25)22.9% (1 in 4.4)
Probability of being dealt connectors15.7% (1 in 6.4)22.9% (1 in 4.4)
Probability of being dealt ace-king1.2% (1 in 83)2.5% (1 in 39)
Probability of being dealt two Broadway cards14.3% (1 in 7)30.2% (1 in 3.3)

It’s obvious players have to adjust their thinking when it comes to starting hands and their value in short deck hold’em. Hand values go up in short deck, so what might seem like a decent starting hand in regular hold’em is going to be average or worse in short deck.

Exploring Short Deck HoldShort Deck Odds

Another preflop issue to keep in mind — with fewer starting hands overall, that means the gap in equities between starting hands is narrower as well. For example, in a preflop all-in situation, is about a 78 percent favorite to beat in regular hold'em, but in short deck hold'em the aces are only about 63-67 percent to win depending on the rules being used. Search online for 'short deck hold'em calculator' or 'six plus hold'em calculator' if you're curious to test out some hand comparisons using some recently-built equity calculators.

We’ll talk more about preflop strategy in the next installment.

Short Deck Hold'em (Six Plus Hold'em): Postflop Odds

Postflop is where short deck hold'em introduces some surprises to new players, since the odds and probabilities can be quite different from regular hold'em.

Of course, if you just take a moment to think about it, it's obvious that when drawing to a certain number of outs, the chance of hitting your needed card changes when there are fewer cards left in the deck.

Let's say you hold and the flop comes to give you an open-ended straight draw. You have eight outs (the kings and the eights) to fill your straight, but instead of there being 47 unseen cards (as in regular hold'em), there are only 31 unseen cards in short deck. Whereas in regular hold'em you'd have an 8 in 47 chance of filling your straight on the turn (about 17 percent), in short deck hold'em your odds of turning the straight are 8 in 31 (nearly 26 percent).

I have seen discussions of short deck hold'em outs recommending players replace the 'Rule of 2 and 4' from regular hold'em with a new 'Rule of 3 and 6' for short deck. In regular hold'em, if you flop an open-ended straight draw with eight outs, you can roughly estimate your chance of filling the straight by multiplying those eight outs by two for the turn (~16 percent) and by four for the turn and river (~32 percent).

In short deck you can do something similar, multiplying your eight outs by three for the turn (~24 percent, which is close to the actual 25.8 percent) and by six for the turn and river (~48 percent, which is also close to the actual 45.6 percent).

Here's a table showing how your odds of hitting a certain number of outs change from regular hold'em to short deck:

Regular Hold’em OutsTurnRiverShort Deck Hold’em OutsTurnRiver

By the way, don’t forget when you are drawing to a flush that there are fewer outs available to you in short deck than in regular hold'em. If you flop a flush draw in regular hold’em you have nine outs, but in short deck you only have five.

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As already noted, hand values tend to be higher in short deck hold’em, which means one-pair hands aren’t going to be as strong postflop in short deck as they are in regular hold’em. And thanks to the increased chance of players filling draws, those one-pair hands and other modest “made hands” are going to be more vulnerable, too.

A few other items related to postflop probabilities in short deck:

  • with suited cards you flop flush draws less often in short deck, and complete flushes less often as well
  • with connectors and one-gappers you flop straight draws more often in short deck, and complete them more often, too
  • with a pocket pair, you flop a set more often in short deck (about 17 percent of the time vs. 12 percent in regular hold’em

We'll be exploring postflop strategy in more detail going forward in the series as well. Meanwhile, take a look at the video below and listen to Tom Dwan, Patrik Antonius, Daniel Cates, Kane Kalas, Jason Koon, Phil Ivey, Wai Kin Yong, and Gabe Patgorski offer some general advice about how to approach short deck hold’em strategy.

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Examining preflop equities is important not only for analyzing dramatic all-in confrontations; preflop is just like any other street in terms of opportunity to collect value from your opponents. As previously mentioned, equities run a lot closer in Short Deck, however, it is still highly beneficial to look at several matchups and see if we can glean any relevant and useful information.

In Short Deck there are more ties and split pots when two players share a common card. For example, A-K in a matchup versus A-Q suited will win 58 perent, lose 32 percent, and tie 10 percent of the time. In order to present the most useful displays the ties are split and allocated equally to the various equities. Thus, in this example, A-K is displayed as a 63:37 favorite over A-Q suited. When effective stacks of $1,000 go all in preflop, on average A-K will get $630 back in addition to any dead money in the pot.

A-K is a good hand to examine first because in Short Deck, as in regular hold’em, it is a holding that often prefers to be all-in before the flop. Unless a player is making a massive overbet that will usually only be called by A-A or K-K; A-K benefits greatly from seeing all five board cards which allows the holding to fully realize its equity.

Some results for A-K offsuit are as follows:

AK vs Short Deck Full Deck
Win Lose Win Lose
AA 15% 85% 7% 93%
KK 44% 56% 31% 70%
QQ 52% 48% 43% 57%
1010 50% 50% 43% 57%
88 55% 45% 44% 56%
AQs 63% 37% 70% 30%
AJ 64% 36% 73% 28%
A9s 60% 40% 70% 30%
J10s 50% 50% 59% 41%
J10 52% 48% 63% 37%
QJs 55% 45% 61% 39%
98s 54% 46% 59% 41%
K10s 60% 40% 69% 31%
J6o 64% 36% 67% 33%

The most surprising result here is that A-K is only a 44 percent underdog to K-K, which is approximately its all-in win percentage over Q-Q in Full Deck. It’s a confrontation that is often referred to as the “classic coin flip.”

A-K versus 10-10 in Short Deck is a true 50:50 coin flip. Pocket tens is the pocket pair that fares the best against A-K because it blocks A-K from many Broadway straights, and with the truncated deck it will make a larger amount of straights on its own. A-K is a favorite over any other pocket pair where in hold’em it would be an underdog.

A-K versus J-10 suited is another true coin flip situation. Notice when compared with Full Deck that the value of being suited is approximately 2 equity points (50 percent less when compared to Full Deck) due to the increased difficulty in hitting flushes.

A-K is either a coin flip or a favorite against any hand other than A-A or K-K, and card removal effects help block these holdings, thus it is very effective as an all-in bet when effective stacks are not that deep. This has led some to surmise that Short Deck may possibly evolve to a pot-limit game in the future.

Now let’s move onto A-A:
AA vs Short Deck Full Deck
Win Lose Win Lose
KK 75% 25% 81% 19%
QQ 74% 26% 81% 19%
88 73% 27% 80% 20%
AQs 80% 20% 87% 13%
A10 80% 20% 92% 8%
J10s 63% 37% 77% 23%
98s 64% 36% 77% 23%
J6 78% 22% 88% 12%

Pockets aces is still a sizeable favorite over any other pair. J-10 suited and 9-8 suited are the hands with the best chance to crack aces due to their ability to make many straights and the occasional flush.

Now for K-K:

Short-Deck Poker: Description, Rules And Hand Rankings

KK vs Short Deck Full Deck
Win Lose Win Lose
QQ 75% 25% 82% 18%
88 73% 27% 80% 20%
AQs 56% 44% 68% 32%
A10 58% 42% 70% 30%
J10s 67% 33% 79% 21%

As expected, pocket kings are also a big favorite over lower pairs, however, its expectation against ace-high hands are dramatically reduced when compared with hold’em. However, it is noteworthy that K-K fares better against connectors such as J-10 because it holds two blockers against a possible straight. Blockers hold significantly more value in Short Deck; Q-Q is a 70:30 favorite over the J-10 suited because it holds two straight blockers.

Let’s shift gears and examine how some of the premium connectors, J-10 and 9-8 suited, fare in all-in situations preflop.

JT vs Short Deck Full Deck
Win Lose Win Lose
AA 38% 62% 23% 77%
KK 33% 67% 21% 79%
QQ 28% 72% 15% 85%
99 58% 42% 46% 54%
88 60% 40% 46% 54%
AK 48% 52% 37% 63%
AQ 48% 52% 37% 63%
A10 42% 58% 30% 70%
KJ 39% 61% 28% 72%
QJ 38% 62% 38% 62%
109 62% 38% 74% 26%
108 65% 35% 74% 26%
98 60% 40% 66% 34%
98s vs Short Deck Full Deck
Win Lose Win Lose
AA 36% 64% 23% 77%
KK 38% 62% 23% 77%
QQ 37% 63% 22% 78%
AK 46% 54% 41% 59%
A10 49% 51% 41% 59%
QJ 45% 55% 40% 60%

As you may have noticed, neither hand performs that well against a range of A-A, K-K, and A-K that will almost certainly call an all-in bet. When you hold J-10, the Q-J is also a hand to be concerned about as it dominates your holding in regards to pairing the jack as well as blocking one of the straight cards.

All things considered the 9-8 suited appears to fare better against a premium range than J-10. This is potentially something to keep in mind if you choose to develop some form of limp re-raising strategy into your game.

For example, in the ante-only structure if there are several limps and a ton of money in the pot an aggressive opponent may be enticed to make a large raise to pick it all up. A large raise is often polarized to include premium holdings that may be hard to play multi-way or junk hands that have little value.

If we are employing a limp only strategy, limp re-raising with 9-8 suited can be a viable play if there is a reasonable chance the button is just making a play at the pot. Stack sizes are important here, if he has room to fold it’s more likely he is polarized, however you don’t want stacks that are too deep otherwise you will be punished when he is at the top of his range. But keep in mind you are 36 percent versus A-A and there is always a good deal of dead money in the pot.

Finally, let’s examine how a mediocre ace-high hand performs against a variety of different holdings:

A9 vs Short Deck Full Deck
Win Lose Win Lose
AA 19% 81% 7% 93%
KK 43% 57% 28% 72%
AK 36% 64% 26% 74%
QJ 48% 52% 58% 42%
J10s 43% 57% 53% 47%
K10 50% 50% 59% 41%
108 53% 47% 61% 39%
J8 56% 44% 63% 37%
A7 58% 42% 70% 30%

When you are short stacked with few players left to act it is still sound strategy to push with A-9 in order to try and pick up the blinds and antes as your equity against pairs and dominated hands that would call is slightly better than with a full deck. However, you should play slightly tighter facing all-in bets as your equity against a broader pushing range would tend to be lower.

Next issue we begin to look at some of the more common post-flop situations and the equities associated with them. ♠

Short-Deck Poker Strategy - Odds Shark

Kevin Haney is a former actuary of MetLife but left the corporate job to focus on his passions for poker and fitness. He is co-owner of Elite Fitness Club in Oceanport, NJ and is a certified personal trainer. With regards to poker he got his start way back in 2003 and particularly enjoys taking new players interested in mixed games under his wing and quickly making them proficient in all variants. His new mixed-games website Counting Outs is a great starting resource for a plethora of games ranging from the traditional to the exotic. He can be reached at [email protected]