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Poker Life: Why I Love Short-Handed Play

Thu, Nov 3, 5:39pm by Poker Guru

Something I don’t like seeing at poker tables is players using their tablets or smartphones. Not that I am afraid that they are cheating or anything, I just think it is antisocial and almost rude. If you don’t want to interact with other players, why even bother going to a casino and play live? Play online then. I have seen players watching full-length movies at the poker tables, only to take brief breaks to play a hand.

Why is this? Is poker boring? I guess this shows it is to some players. Full table poker has probably become too slow for today’s players and that is why they need extra entertainment on the side.

The cure is to play my favourite live game: short-handed cash games. To me, a cash game with five players is perfect. The game becomes faster, everyone needs to loosen up, and there is simply more action. With a faster and looser game you really need to play attention as well. After you have acted, it becomes your turn roughly twice as fast, and because everybody is playing looser it means that everybody will face more decisions than at a full table. Actually, that is why a short-handed is not really twice as fast.

I would love to see stats for how many flops a player like Tom Dwan plays on High Stakes Poker. I think it may be as much as 30% and that is extreme but at a five-handed table you can play even more hands than that without being crazy.

It is interesting to move between full table cash games to five-handed games to heads-up games. In a heads-up, you might make a value bet with bottom pair, in a five-handed game you might make a value bet with second pair, and at a full table you will probably be very happy if you win a showdown with top pair. I play and enjoy all three types but the perfect mix for me is five-handed.

How about short-handed tournaments? I love the WSOP $5,000 Six-Handed NL Hold’em event but most tournament organisers do not have enough dealers/tables to organise short-handed tournaments, and it is difficult for smaller tournament organisers to make money from them (less fees per table). If you ever get the chance to play in WSOP, pick the six-handed event. It is a great experience.


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