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Introduction to Short Deck Hold’em Strategy

Now that you can play short deck with pokerrrr, it’s time to start digging into the strategies of this poker variant so that you can maximize your EV and win those chips. The fact that deuces through fives are missing from the deck changes the odds of hitting various hands, which, as previously discussed, changes the hand ranking a bit as well.

Not only do this change the rules, but it also changes our strategies. We need to approach hands differently than we do in normal Hold’em. Here are some of the first strategies you need to master to become a winning short deck player.

1. The Rule of 3 and 6

This is short deck’s version of the rule of 2 and 4, an easy way for us to figure out equity based on how many outs we have. If we have an open-ended straight draw on the flop in normal Hold’em, for instance, we multiply our 8 outs by 2 to find our likelihood of hitting on the turn (16%) and we multiply our outs by 4 for the probability of making our hand by the river (32%).

In short deck, however, since there’s less cards overall, this means that there’s less cards that don’t complete your hand. So instead of 2 and 4, we use 3 and 6. That same straight draw is 24% to hit by the turn and 48% on the river.

2. The Value of Straight Draws and Flush Draws

For this reason, straight draws are more powerful now than before. Since it’s more likely that you’ll make your hand by showdown, these hands have more equity against hands like pairs than before.

Flush draws, however, are less valuable. Even though you’ll multiply your outs by 3 and 6, there are less outs in this version. In normal Hold’em, a flush draw on the flop has 9 outs, whereas now we only have 5. This means that flush draws are harder to hit, and consequently they beat full houses.

3. Don’t Overvalue Your Hand

One of the biggest traps of short deck is overvaluing your hand, both preflop and post-flop. Especially before the flop, you’re much more likely to be dealt a premium hand than before. For instance, in normal Hold’em, you’ll only get dealt pocket aces, on average, one out of 221 hands. In short deck, however, it’s around one out of every 100 hands. This is a huge bump—it turns out that when we get rid of all the low cards, we’re left with a lot of bigger hands.

The one caveat here is that pocket pairs are more valuable pre-flop than before. This is because you are more likely to hit a set than in normal Hold’em.

We also need to watch out about our hand’s value post-flop. Top pair, top kicker isn’t nearly as strong when sets and straights are more likely.

We can use this knowledge to properly adjust our ranges and to exploit players who are still playing with a full deck mindset.

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