What do you do when you can only get a couple friends together for your home poker game? Or maybe you’re playing online and there’s only a few people at the table, or maybe some people leave midgame. Do you know how to play short-handed poker?
There are plenty of people who only play if they can get a “full” game together of six to nine players. Not only does this decrease the amount of poker we get to play, but it’s actually not good for our bottom line.
Here’s the secret. If you’re a winning poker player, you win more chips by making better decisions. When there’s less people at the table, you get to make more decisions in the same amount of time. Since making those decisions are what wins you chips, your win-rate will actually increase in a short-handed game!
Keep it Tight
One common mistake that players make when playing short-handed is they think it gives them a license to play loose. Since they’re going to be getting it in with all sorts of junk, we need to make sure to keep that same tight range as before. This means we’ll have an even bigger range advantage and can crush our opponents.
Basically, play the same amount of hands that you normally would per position. For instance, if you play 40% of hands from the button, keep doing that. The only difference is that you’re going to be on the button more often, so you’ll have more opportunities to play in position.
Your game should not fundamentally change when playing short-handed. Sticking to the fundamentals of a winning strategy will help you to beat people who act like short-handed poker is a totally different game.
Opponent Strength Matters More
The one thing to keep in mind that it matters even more how good your opponents are in a short-handed game. If there’s two fish at the table, then it’s much better to be short-handed than have a big game going because it means that you’ll be able to play more pots against them.
On the other hand, playing against sharks can be disastrous. It’s much harder to avoid a great player in a short-handed game, so you’re going to have to play against them. If they have a read on your or if you can’t seem to figure them out, then you’re in for a tough time.