Short Deck Poker - Hand Rankings, Rules & Gameplay

Natural8 Short Deck Poker

This exciting poker variant is enjoyed by both recreational players and high rollers alike, and perfect for players who love thrilling games of chance. Our very own “Team Hot” members Danny Tang and Thai Ha are undoubtedly fans of Short Deck poker, frequently seen battling it out in the Triton Poker Series tournaments.


You’ll also earn Fish Buffet points as you pay rake when playing Short Deck Poker on Natural8, so go ahead and hit the tables now. Read on to find out why this game has been dubbed the "next big thing in poker"!

What is Short Deck Poker

Short Deck (also known as 6+ Hold’em) is a variant of Hold’em where players are dealt two hole cards with five community cards on the table. The object of the game is to make the best five card hand. The name Short Deck is given because the game uses a 36-card deck with only cards ranked 6 and above remaining.

This game which originated in Asia has gained much popularity in the last few years and is popular amongst the high stakes players due to its high variance. With the deck stripped down, the game becomes quicker in pace and more brutal. Some would even argue that Short Deck is a more fun variation compared to regular Hold’em.

Short Deck Poker Rules & Gameplay

How to Play Short Deck Poker


Player A’s Hole Cards

Player B’s Hole Cards

Everybody gets their first two cards (Hole Cards)

Instead of blinds, all players must post an ante.

To start things off, the dealer (button) is required to post an additional button blind.

The player to the left of the dealer is first to act.

The minimum pre-flop raise is double the ante.

The Flop

Player A’s Hole Cards

Community Cards

Player B’s Hole Cards

3 Community (Everyone's) cards are dealt

Three communal cards are dealt face up, starting the next round of betting.

As with pre-flop, the player to the left of the dealer is first to act.

The Turn

Player A’s Hole Cards

Community Cards

Player B’s Hole Cards

A 4th community card is dealt

A fourth shared card is added, followed by a further round of betting.

The River

Player A’s Hole Cards

Community Cards

Player B’s Hole Cards

A final 5th community card is dealt

The final communal card is dealt, beginning the final round of betting.

The Showdown

Player A’s Hole Cards

Community Cards

Player B’s Hole Cards

If there are 2 or more remaining active players they will go to the Showdown.

Players make hands using one or both of their hole cards and the five community cards to make the best hand, however in Short Deck,

Flush beats a full house

A-6-7-8-9 is a straight (the Ace plays high or low, so 10-J-Q-K-A is also a straight)

A-6-7-8-9 of same suit is a straight flush

Removal of Chips

Similar to All in or Fold, players are able to remove chips from the table once they build a big enough stack. In Short Deck, chips beyond 100 button blinds are able to be removed

Ante Example:

In a $1 ante game, the ante is $1 and the additional button blind is $1:

Players have the option to fold, call $1 or make a pre-flop raise (minimum $2).

Texas Hold’em vs Short Deck Hold’em

The rules of the game are very similar to Texas Hold’em with just a few key differences. So it’s safe to say that it’s an easy game to pick up if you haven’t tried it but are familiar with the classic Texas Hold’em.

Short Deck Poker Hand Rankings

1) There are fewer cards.

All the 2's, 3's, 4's and 5's cards are removed, so the deck only has 36 cards instead of the usual 52. Since there are fewer cards in the deck, the chances of being dealt pocket Aces, or any pocket pairs for that matter, are twice as high. This also means that hands such as top pair and top kicker have a much lower value.

2) Hand rankings change.

With the smaller deck comes different odds and possibilities and the hand rankings in Short Deck poker are different because of the removal of every card two through five. Unlike in a traditional poker game, players will find it harder to flop flush draws in this variant, and the chances of hitting one are even lesser. Therefore, a Flush beats a Full House in Short Deck.

Another odd difference that might take a bit of getting used to is the Ace card. Similar to Texas Hold’em, the Ace card plays both high and low but in Short Deck it would look slightly different. A low straight would be A-6-7-8-9.

Short Deck Poker Hand Rankings

Name Description Example

Royal Flush

The best possible hand in Texas Hold'em is the royal flush. It consists of five same suit cards ranked from ace to ten.

Straight Flush

Next on the list is the straight flush, which consists of five same suit consecutive cards, for example, 5-6-7-8-9 all in hearts.


A four-of-a-kind hand means four cards of the same value, for example, four Aces.


A flush means five same suit cards in no particular order.

Full House

A full house consists of three cards of the same value with the addition of a pair. An example - three Aces and two threes.


A straight in poker consists of five consecutive cards that aren't in the same suit. The highest possible variation is from ace to ten.


It works like four-of-a-kind only with three cards of the same value instead of four.

Two Pair

Two pairs of different ranks.

One Pair

Two cards of the same value.

High Card

The lowest possible hand is a high card. Basically, it occurs when hole cards and community cards don't produce any combination and the highest card wins.

3) The betting structure is different.

While Texas Hold’em is played with blinds, Short Deck (6+) Hold’em is mostly played using antes. At each round, everybody at the table posts one ante, while the player in the Dealer position posts an additional ante (so two antes in total).

Short Deck Hold’em Odds

Short Deck Poker 36 card deck

The short deck has changed the game of Hold’em and may be challenging as it may test your knowledge on Hold’em Poker odds.

Players will have more playable starting hands in Short Deck as the two hole cards have a higher chance of being paired or connected. Pocket Aces, or any pocket pairs, will come along twice as often. Gone are the days of disconnected hands like 2♠ 8♥ or 5♣ Q♦. With more playable hands, there will definitely be more action and players will be involved in more multiway pots.

In Short Deck, players will also find themselves drawing a straight more often. The probability of flopping an open-ended straight draw goes up to 19% in Short Deck as compared to 10% in a full-deck game.

And with less cards in the deck, players will find themselves hitting their outs more often. The chances of hitting an open-ended straight draw by the river increases to 45.5% as compared to just 31.5% with a full deck.

Pocket pairs have about a 17% chance of hitting a set on the flop as compared to 12% in a regular Hold’em game with a full deck.

Players will find it harder to flop a flush draw and the chances of hitting one becomes even less. Players who flop a flush draw will only have 5 outs and a 30% chance of hitting the flush by the time it gets to the river, compared to the 9 outs and a 35% chance in a regular full deck game. If a player misses the flush on the turn, the odds drops to 16.6% of hitting the flush on the river. In a regular full deck game of Hold’em, the odds at the river would be 19.5%.

Short Deck Poker Strategy

Some players might find it difficult to switch to Short Deck Hold’em because of the mathematical differences. The strategy will differ from a No-Limit Hold’em and this may be difficult to get used to. Here are some basic tips for players who are looking to try a hand at Short Deck Hold’em.

TIP #1: Stronger Post-Flop Hands Needed

Flushes and Three-of-a-kinds are more rare in Short Deck, making them more valuable. Therefore, having suited hole cards and pocket pairs becomes more valuable.

TIP #2: Estimate your odds by using the 6 and 3 rule.

Do some quick mental math to estimate your chances of hitting a draw. To do this, multiply the number of outs by 6 on the flop, and 3 on the turn. For example, if you have a 8-out straight draw on the flop, multiply 8 with 6 and you’ll have roughly a 48% chance of hitting the straight by the river. And if you have a 6-out straight draw on the turn, multiply 6 with 3 and you’ll get a 18% of hitting the straight on the river. If you’re new to the game and are still trying to get used to the short deck odds then this rule can be a stack saver.

TIP #3: Tap into your knowledge from regular Texas Hold’em.

Short Deck Hold’em might have less cards to draw from and the odds may be drastically different, but it doesn’t mean you should disregard the basic strategies of Texas Hold’em. Betting strategies still apply even though the ranges are different. Your knowledge and understanding of basic Hold’em strategy is still your strongest asset.

Short Deck Hold’em is relatively new compared to traditional Hold’em. Compared to No-Limit Hold’em, Short Deck Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha has slowly become favourites for high rollers and those who love action. So give it a go and don’t forget to put the tips to good use

Short Deck Table Information

Stakes Ante / Button Blind Buy-ins Rake % Rake Cap (2~3) Rake Cap (4+)
VIP $500 $25,000 - $50,000 5% $75 $150
$300 $15,000 - $30,000 $50 $100
$200 $10,000 - $20,000 $40 $80
$100 $5,000 - $10,000 $30 $70
$50 $2,500 - $5,000 $25 $50
High $10 $500 - $1,000 5% $7.50 $15
$5 $250 - $500 $3.75 $7.50
$2 $100 - $200 $1.50 $3
Middle $1 $50 - $100 5% $1 $2
$0.50 $25 - $50 $0.50 $1
$0.25 $12.50 - $25 $0.25 $0.50
Low $0.10 $5 - $10 5% $0.15 $0.30
$0.05 $2.50 - $5 $0.08 $0.15
$0.02 $1 - $2 $0.03 $0.06

*Rake is deducted when the pot amount is more than "(2 BTB) + (Ante)*(Dealt Players count)"

*All Short Deck tables are 5-max, meaning there are a maximum of 5 players per table.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What is the minimum and maximum number of players at a Short Deck Hold’em table?

A: The minimum number of players at a table is 2 and the maximum is 5.

Q: Can I remove chips from the table?

A: Yes, you may do so when you have built a big enough stack. For Short Deck tables, chips beyond 100 button blinds can be removed.

Q: What are buy-ins?

A: Buy-ins refer to the amount of money you have to use to buy into the game. There are different buy-in levels on Natural8, so you can choose the one you are most comfortable with.

Q: What is rake?

A: Rake is a commission fee taken by a poker room for operating the game. Rake is common in the industry and generally equals 5-10% of the pot in each hand.

Terms & Conditions

  1. Players must be aged 18 and above to participate in this promotion.
  2. This game uses a 36-card deck and the deck is shuffled after each hand.
  3. Amount committed to the pot will still be in play in the event of a disconnection. Natural8 players accept the risk of internet disconnection, due to problems with the connection between their device(s) and the servers, lag or freeze or some other problem in the player’s device(s) or how that device accesses the internet.
  4. This promotion is subject to the terms and conditions of the Natural8 website.
  5. Natural8 is an advocate of safer gambling. If you feel you might have an online gambling problem, do seek further advice or counseling at begambleaware
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