6 Reasons Why Short Handed Poker is Better

Poker players have long debated which format is best – full ring or short handed. While both have their merits in terms of strategy, 6 max or short handed poker has some clear advantages that make it the superior format for many players. Here are 6 reasons why short handed poker is better:

More Hands Per Hour

With fewer players at the table in a 6 max game, you’ll get to see more hands per hour compared to a full ring game. This increased frequency allows aggressive players to maximize their edge by playing more hands. The faster pace of short handed poker keeps the action moving at a steady clip and prevents play from dragging or stalling out between hands. Players who prefer constant involvement will appreciate seeing more flops in a short period of time.

Less Need to Play Tight

In full ring games with 9 or 10 players, there are more opponents left to act behind you postflop. This often forces players to play a tighter, more conservative strategy overall and restrict their opening ranges pre-flop. But with fewer players in 6 max poker, you can open up your starting hand ranges pre-flop and play more hands profitably. There’s less need to wait only for premium holdings to get involved as you’ll have fold equity post-flop. Narciso Baldo, at Texas Hold’em Questions promotes looser hand selection for profitable 6 max poker strategy, stating that “you’ll lose too much in blinds if you’re not prepared to play more hands”.

Postflop Play is More Dynamic

Short handed poker games frequently feature more heads up and 3 handed scenarios postflop. This element allows for advanced plays like semi-bluffing, float betting, and triple barrel bluffing to thrive. The reduced field size opens up the possibilities for creative, aggressive approaches since you have less players behind left to worry about. Players who like to bluff and play unconventionally benefit from the tactical dynamics.

Preflop Raising is More Effective

Because there are fewer opponents and a higher likelihood of winning the blinds pre-flop in a 6 max game, raising hands for steals has a higher expected value and edge. You can effectively steal more blinds with less resistance pre-flop. Isolation raises also give you control of the hand more often when you enter heads up. Preflop aggressors are rewarded more in short-handed games.

Games are Typically Juicier

Recreational players and fish love the action and fast pace of short handed poker games. With more hands per hour and aggressive play, weaker opponents tend to make more mistakes and spew chips. This creates profitable opportunities against poorer opposition. The dynamics reward skilled regulars who can take advantage of all the edges available.

Rewards Aggression and Adaptability

To consistently win at short handed tables, you need to play fast, make quick reads on opponents, and not be afraid of confrontations or getting out of line when required. It challenges you to adapt your play on the fly while firing big bets as semi-bluffs. An extremely aggressive, attacking style like Tom Dwan uses, is an absolute must to thrive in 6 max games.  Players gain edges by being adaptable and keeping opponents off balance.


In summary, the reduced player pool, faster pace, and tactical dynamics of 6 max poker lead to a looser, more aggressive, and ultimately more rewarding game for strong players. You get to fully actualize your poker edge through unrelenting aggression, creativity, and adapting to the changing scenarios. For these reasons, short handed poker is the preferred format for many advantaged regulars and professionals. If you’re looking to maximize your win rate and enjoyment, give 6 max poker a try. The dynamics reward good players.

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