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Best Short Handed Poker Sites

Shorthanded poker games (also referred to as 6-max) are available on almost every single online poker room. The problem most shorthanded players have is that these sites don’t have enough traffic to keep the games flowing 24/7. This is where we come in. Below, we have ranked the top shorthanded poker sites online. This list includes poker rooms that have a steady stream of players at all hours of the day and provide a variety of shorthanded games, including sit n gos. Real money players will qualify for exclusive bonuses available only at our site.

Reviewing the Best Shorthanded Poker Rooms Online

Rank help Poker Room help Mac help Bonus help Match help Code help Player Trafic help Room Review help
1Pacific Poker 888 Poker   mac-icon $600 100% N/A 40,000+ 888 Poker
2Pokerstars PokerStars   mac-icon $600 100% OPN50 240,000+ PokerStars
3Party Poker Party Poker   mac-icon $500 100% OPNET500 70,000+ Party Poker
4 Bet365 Poker   mac-icon $1000 200% N/A 40,000+ Bet365 Poker
5 BWIN Poker   mac-icon $500 100% N/A 40,000+ BWIN Poker

Relative Hand Value at 6-Max Poker Sites

You can worry less at a short-handed poker site about your opponents having strong hands preflop than you would at a full-ring table. This means you can play a wider range of hands profitably, and bluff your opponents more often.

To illustrate why, let’s do a little (easy!) math.

Combinatorics and Short-Handed Poker

We’ll draw from a field called combinatorics to calculate how likely certain hands are to be dealt in a short-handed game. Combinatorics is the study of combinations – the choosing of objects from a set (like cards).

This sounds complicated, but I promise – IT’S NOT! Combinatorics is easy to understand, and it’s fundamental to the game of poker. Learning it will be invaluable to your strategy at short-handed poker sites.

To ease into it, let’s learn some basic combinations that are directly applicable to Holdem. There are:

  • 1,326 combinations of preflop starting hands.
  • 16 combinations of any given offsuit unpaired hand (e.g. A2o)
  • 4 combinations of any given suited unpaired hand (e.g. A2s)
  • 6 combinations of any given pocket pair (e.g. 44)

From these simple combinations, we can determine the likelihood of any set of preflop hands being dealt at a poker table.

Hand Value at a Full Ring Table

Say you’re playing a full ring game (10 players), and you want to calculate the likelihood that any opponent has AKo or TT-AA. All you need to do is apply the numbers above, and you get:

  • 16 combinations of AKo
  • (6 combinations per pair) x (5 pairs) = 35 combinations of TT-AA.

Thus the probability of a given player having {AKo, TT-AA} is 51/1,326. Translated into a percentage, that means there’s a 3.7% chance that a given player is dealt {AKo, TT-AA} preflop.

Given the above, we can infer that the chance of a given player not having {AKo, TT-AA} is 1276/1326 (96.23%).

And then we can calculate the probability that no player at a 10-handed poker table is dealt {AKo, TT-AA} preflop: (1,276/1,326)^10 = 68%.

So at a 10-handed poker table, the chance that at least one player is dealt an excellent starting hand is surprisingly slim.

Hand Value at a Short-Handed Poker Site

What about at a short-handed poker site? Are the probabilities we outlined above the same?

As you can guess, the probability that at least one opponent is dealt an excellent starting hand is even smaller at a short-handed table than at a full-ring table. We just need to substitute one number in our calculations to make this explicit:

(1,276/1,326)^6 = 79.4%

So 79.4% of the time at a short-handed poker site, nobody at your table will be dealt AKo or TT-AA. That’s a full 11% more than at a full-ring table. Meaning: it’s relatively  less likely that your opponents have good hole cards in a short-handed poker game as opposed to in a full ring game.

This is powerful knowledge that most players don’t have. If you use it correctly, you can adjust your game to short-handed poker sites perfectly. And once you do that, you’ll be an unstoppable force at the tables.

Adjusting to Short-Handed Poker Sites

Now that we’ve done the math, we know the fundamental difference between full ring and short-handed poker: at short-handed poker sites, our opponents are less likely to have good holdings preflop.

How can we adjust our game to take advantage of this critical information?

There are a few tweaks we should implement to crush the short-handed poker sites:

Play more hands. Since preflop holdings are weaker on a relative basis in short-handed games, you can play more hands preflop. This is counter-intuitive, but think about it: since your opponents are less likely to hold the nuts, your AJ or KT becomes more valuable.  Thus it’s profitable to open up your range.

Abuse your positional advantage. Not only do players have crappier cards on the whole in short-handed poker, the blinds move faster around the table. This makes many players feel compelled to act, even if a situation doesn’t warrant it. Take advantage of this by raising relentlessly in position whenever you’ve got fold equity. Stealing pots in this way will add many figures to your bottom line.

Read into board textures. When the flop comes, the cards that fall are important; not only for your hand, but for your opponent’s as well. A large chunk of your profits at short-handed poker sites comes from estimating where your opponent is at postflop accurately, and then acting accordingly.

Trying Out Your Short-Handed Poker Strategy

Armed with all this knowledge, you can be pretty sure you’ll have an edge in most short-handed poker games you join. So where’s the best place to play?

You should take three factors into account when choosing a short-handed poker site:

Opponent skill level. This matters more at the short-handed poker sites than at the full ring tables. That’s because, as we’ve seen, short-handed strategy depends less on your cards (luck) and more on your play (skill). Pick a site where the players are known to be pretty terrible, like 888 Poker.

Software quality. Once you get the hang of crushing the short-handed poker games, you’ll probably end up playing multiple tables at once. That means you’ll want to choose a room with fast software and lots of gameplay features. An established and popular site is your best bet in this regard. 888 Poker or Party Poker would both be good choices.

On-site casino. Choosing a poker site with a casino attached is key, because maniac gamblers often sit in at the short-handed poker tables. You see these guys all the time at 888 Poker; they’re “just visiting” from the blackjack tables, and they’re looking to give away money. Might as well take it if it’s there!