6+ Hold’em was only introduced on PokerStars in January 2019, but already it’s become a favorite among fans regulars and casual players alike. Recently we reached out to four 6+ Hold’em regulars to pick up some strategy tips and learn what keeps them coming back for more.
Ask enough regulars about 6+ Hold’em and you’ll find they all agree one bedrock principle: the nuts and bolts of 6+ Hold’em make it a high-quality action game.
“I love the fast-paced action,” says Roman Yitzhaki. “I have been in some crazy games with the whole table gambling. Everyone approaches 6+ in their own unique way, and it’s fun to try to solve everyone’s puzzle.”
The puzzle shares its poker DNA with two of the most popular variants around. “It’s really a fun game with some interesting strategy differences. It plays like Omaha in a lot of ways but with the simplicity of Hold’em,” says Mike Watson.
Max Silver concurs. “I’ve played Hold’em and Omaha extensively during my career and I think 6+ offers a bit of both. You still have two cards but equities run much closer and boards tend to be much more dynamic due to the higher frequency of straights.”
The end result, says Peter Jetten, is a game that grabs hold of you and doesn’t let go. “If you’ve read my tweets you know that 2019 is the year of action and as far as that goes, this is the game that keeps on giving. I’ve been impressed by the power 6+ Hold’em has to draw in and hook both new players and those who have been playing other games for many years.”
One of the benefits of picking up a new game is discovering aspects that set it apart from other more familiar forms of poker. For the pros we talked to, 6+ Hold’em was no different.
For Silver, one of the biggest surprises came away from the tables when he was crunching numbers. “I’ve been running a lot of equities to learn the game and when I found out JT suited is a favorite over pocket tens that blew my mind,” he says. “It’s refreshing after 8 years as a professional poker player to play and learn something new.”
Jetten has been impressed by just how many highlights can be packed into a 6+ Hold’em session. “I’ve seen a lot in my brief time playing Short Deck, so it’s tough to pick out my favorite highlights. Perhaps it was one of several timely one-outers, or stealing someone’s chicken in a big pot, or even a mega hero call. I think the best highlight was winning a six-way all-in holding 8-6.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise at all — certainly the most complimentary to the game itself — was Watson’s. “When I started playing 6+ Hold’em I thought it was a stupid game that I had to learn for some of the high roller tournament series I wanted to play,” he says. “Now I find myself playing more short deck than anything else.”
With so many similarities to standard Texas Hold’em, 6+ Hold’em will feel familiar for many new players. But that familiarity can also lead to trouble when the differences between the two games begin to show up. So what 6+ Hold’em strategy advice do these pros have for new players?
“Start slow,” says Silver. “It’s a game of high variance and you will end up all-in a lot. Learn the equities and you’ll soon learn surprising things like an open-ended straight draw is a flip or better against top pair. Abuse your fold equity whenever possible, as it’s huge if your opponent folds a 30% claim to the pot. Finally, a flush beats a full house, so proceed with caution on three- and four-flush boards.”
Because the equities in a given hand run so much closer than in Texas Hold’em, new 6+ Hold’em players need to realize that small differences in hand strength can have a big effect. “There is a big difference between hands one rank apart,” says Yitzhaki. “For example, J-9 is very different from J-8 and A-K from A-Q. Suited hands also seem quite strong, so where J-9 off-suit is weak, J-9 suited is quite strong.”
Watson suggests that regular Hold’em players depart from familiar strategies in one key way when they play 6+. “A lot of Hold’em players don’t like to limp in, but in the 6+ ante structure it’s an important part of your strategy. Especially in early position, it’s often better to just call the big blind and see what happens behind you before committing too much money.”
“Without the little cards in the deck, you are dealt a playable hand much more often,” says Jetten. “Also the ‘ante up’ structure makes the pots big right from the first time you look at your cards. Considering those things, my general advice is to play aggressively trying to take down as many pots as you can, and don’t be afraid to gamble if you are facing an all-in!”
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