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Poker Dictionary (106) > Short Handed

Playing Short Handed Games - Online Poker

Short handed poker is a game which has 6 or less players, as opposed to a full ring game which would normally have 9 or 10 players. These games are definitely more common playing online poker as live card rooms generally have 9 or 10 to a table - which makes sense given the limitations on space and capacity to seat players.

Playing with 6 or less changes the whole context of the game and the strategy that worked with 10 players will not work in a short handed game. Firstly, the blinds come round much quicker and so you will need to take advantage of positional advantage far more frequently, which means the need to be far more aggressive. In a short handed game, you won't have the luxury of sitting there and waiting for premium hands, as the dent on our blinds happens more quickly.

Benefits of Playing Short Handed

Firstly they are faster paced and can be a lot more fun to play in. The action is considerably faster than in a full ring game. As such there is more scope to make money, as most of the players will be more aggressive in these games. More importantly, it's an important skill to master as a player. If you play in tournaments, to win you are going to need to play short handed to eliminate the final few players. Taking your ABC game to the table isn't going to work.

Additionally, you will get more opportunity to enhance your skills as a player. There will be more aggression, more chances to bluff, raise and generally better your game. These are all key skills that you will need to be a winning player, especially at the higher stakes.

Other Adjustments to Make

You will need to be raising and defending hands with far weaker holdings than you would normally do in a full ring game. You won't have the luxury of sitting about and waiting for premium hands. You will also be able to size up your opposition faster as they will be playing more hands. Any vulnerabilities will be more noticeable, however remember, the same is true towards your game. You will need to be playing position more religiously as you will be in a position of advantage far more frequently.

Another consideration to make is to re-evaluate the number of tables you are playing at once. Your optimum number playing full ring games will not be the same playing the same number of short handed games. This is due to the fact that you'll be playing more hands per hour, so each game will require more attention and time. You need to consider that there is a difference in hand values due to fewer players. For instance, rag aces become more valuable than they do in a full ring game, as there are fewer players who could have it beat. The same principle applies when playing heads up.

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