Understanding Short Deck Poker Hand Rankings

min read
A straight flush on a green casino table.
BetMGM Jan 29, 2024, 2:52 PM

The best online poker sites offer players an exciting range of poker variants to play, including classics like Texas hold’em, seven-card stud, and Omaha. However, there are lesser-known poker variants, including short deck poker

What Is Short Deck Poker?

Short deck poker refers to any variant of poker that removes cards from the standard 52-card deck. One of the most popular takes on this idea is short deck hold’em, also known as six-plus hold’em. In this variant, the dealer removes all the 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s from the deck, leaving only 36 cards in play. 

For the most part, the short deck poker rules are the same as regular poker. You require at least two people to play, but games can include as many as 10 people depending on whether you are playing a full ring or short hand game, and the standard rules of each variant apply. However, since the 2s through 5s are removed from the deck, straights look different because the ace remains both the highest and lowest-value card. 

For example, the lowest-value straight in a full-deck game would be 5, 4, 3, 2, ace, while the lowest-value straight in short deck poker would be 9, 8, 7, 6, ace.

This variant has been popular in Asia for many years, but only recently has interest in short deck poker grown in Europe and the U.S.

The Short Deck Poker Hand Rankings

Even though players use a smaller deck, the hand rankings are almost identical. However, two hands exchange positions due to the removal of cards: the flush and the full house. This is because there are four fewer cards per suit to make a flush, making it harder to hit.

From strongest to weakest, here are the hand rankings in short deck poker:

  • Royal Flush: A 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace, all of the same suit.
  • Straight Flush: Five cards of consecutive value, all of the same suit.
  • Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same value from different suits.
  • Flush: All five cards from the same suit.
  • Full House: Three cards of the same value from different suits and two cards of the same value from different suits.
  • Straight: Five cards of consecutive value from different suits.
  • Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same value from different suits.
  • Two Pair: Two cards of the same value combined with another two cards of the same value. Each pair consists of two cards from different suits.
  • Pair: Two cards of the same value from different suits.
  • High card: The highest value single card in each player’s hand.

The Wikipedia page for six-plus hold’em notes that it’s harder to land a three-of-a-kind because there are fewer cards in short deck poker. People also still play with a straight ranked higher, even though a three-of-a-kind should be placed higher than a straight.

Some also use the standard Texas hold’em rankings for six-plus hold’em, even though the odds of landing certain combinations are reduced due to the smaller deck size.

Lastly, due to the removal of the lower-value cards, short deck players have a greater chance of hitting high-value hands.

Quick Tips for Short Deck Poker

There are several strategic changes you must make when playing short deck poker. Here are three quick tips that you can take advantage of:

1. Remember You Have a Greater Chance of Hitting Your Outs on the Flop

In a typical game of Texas hold’em, there are starting hands you’ll never play into the flop because of their low chances of winning. However, due to the fact that there are fewer cards in short deck poker, you have a greater chance of putting together higher-value hands postflop.

2. Limp Into the Flop

If you don’t have the nuts, consider limping into the flop. Since so many players will want to see what the flop offers, they will likely follow your lead.

3. Don’t Try To Bully People With Strong Pocket Pairs

As a result of more people playing to hit outs on the flop, a strong starting pair doesn’t have the same leverage in short deck poker as it does in other variants. So remember, while it may be tempting to try bullying people with a strong starting pair in Texas hold’em, this is not a great idea in short deck poker.

Play Popular Poker Variants at BetMGM

If you’re interested in playing the most popular poker variants, register at BetMGM Poker to play cash games or competitive poker tournaments, including a Texas hold’em, seven-card stud, and Omaha poker. These games are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so it’s easy to find a game whenever you want to play.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.