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Six-Plus Hold'em Poker Rules

Six-plus hold'em is an exciting, action-filled variation of regular Texas hold'em played with a 36-card deck and different hand rankings, with those changes affecting hand values, odds, and probabilities -- and strategy, too.

Introduction

Six-plus hold’em is a new variation of traditional Texas hold’em that mostly follows the same rules albeit with a significant difference — the use of a smaller 36-card deck rather than the full 52-card deck. Most first heard of the game after it was introduced among the mix in the high-stakes cash games in Macau.

The 36-card deck is created by removing the {2-}s, {3-}s, {4-}s, and {5-}s from the deck (16 cards). That leaves the {6-}s up through the {K-}s as well as the {A-}s. As in regular hold’em, the aces still count as high or low when making straights, which means the lowest possible straight becomes {A-}{9-}{8-}{7-}{6-} (think of the ace as essentially replacing the missing {5-}).

Other than that, six-plus hold’em is played similarly to regular hold’em with two hole cards, five community cards, and four streets of betting — preflop, flop, turn, and river. However, there are some other differences in rules often used in six-plus hold’em which you should know about before playing.

Six-Plus Hold’em Variation — Hand Rankings

Six-plus hold’em can be played according to the exact same rules as regular Texas Hold’em. The betting can be fixed-limit or no-limit (although most often the game is played no-limit), and the same hand rankings can be used as follows:

  • High card (lowest)
  • One pair
  • Two pair
  • Three of a kind
  • Straight
  • Flush
  • Full house
  • Four of a kind
  • Straight flush
  • Royal flush (highest)

However, six-plus hold’em more often is played employing a different hand ranking system. Here are the alternate hand rankings for six-plus hold’em (note the differences in bold):

  • High card (lowest)
  • One pair
  • Two pair
  • Straight
  • Three of a kind
  • Full house
  • Flush
  • Four of a kind
  • Straight flush
  • Royal flush (highest)

As you can see, following these alternate hand rankings three of a kind actually beats a straight (instead of vice-versa), and a flush beats a full house (instead of vice-versa). These changes were introduced because of the because the removal of cards from the standard deck alter the probabilities of making certain hands. For example, with only nine suited cards (instead of 13), a flush is harder to make in six-plus hold’em than in regular hold’em.

Six-Plus Hold’em Variation — The Deal (Fifth Street)

One other popular variation often introduced in six-plus hold’em has to do with the way the river is dealt.

The game can be played according to the same procedure followed in regular hold’em, with the community cards coming in the same way — flop (three cards), turn (one card), and river (one card) — and betting rounds after each street.

More often, though, instead of a river card being dealt to complete a five-card board, players are each dealt a third hole card instead. Players then make their five-card poker hands by using exactly two of their three hole cards and three of the four community cards. The building of hands resembles the procedure followed in Omaha where players must use two of their four hole cards plus three board cards to make a five-card poker hand.

Some Strategic Considerations

As you might imagine, the removal of low cards and use of the 36-card deck makes it more likely to make higher value hands, a change that tends to introduce more action.

That also means players should adjust their thinking about relative hand values from what they are used to in regular hold’em. For instance, the smaller deck makes it easier to make two-pair hands, which means a hand like top pair-top kicker is no longer as strong in six-plus hold’em as it is in regular hold’em. Straights and full houses are also easier to make in six-plus hold’em than in the regular version of the game (a reason for the alternate hand rankings).

The odds of hitting certain draws change, too, in six-plus hold’em. Just to highlight one example, filling an open-ended straight draw becomes more likely in six-plus hold’em, because while you’re still looking for the same eight outs there are fewer total cards in the deck, thus increasing the percentage you’ll make your straight.

The smaller deck also affects the likelihood of being dealt certain hands. For example, you’re more than twice as likely to get pocket aces in six-plus hold’em than you are in regular hold’em!

Finally, players being dealt a third hole card instead of there being a fifth community card obviously affects hand values as well, making it even more likely that players improve their hands — yet another factor that has to be taken into account when calculating odds and considering your final-round betting strategy.

Conclusion

six-plus hold’em introduces several exciting twists to traditional Texas hold’em, creating an action-filled alternative that many players are finding especially enjoyable to play. Furthermore, the changes from regular hold’em aren’t terribly complicated, making it easy to new players to learn and play right away.