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Short Deck Poker - What Is It & How To Play?

Short Deck Poker - What Is It & How To Play?

When a game has been around as long as poker has, it is bound to have a few variations along the way; otherwise, it can reach a state of stalemate, and players may lose interest. One of these variations is Short Deck Poker. 

Short Deck Poker has quickly gained popularity over the years, and it is all the rage, adding a new twist to the world of poker. It is especially a hit amongst some pro players. In this Wizard Slots blog post, we'll explore what Short Deck Poker is, its rules and hand rankings and if it is easier to play than regular poker.

What Is Short Deck Poker?

Short Deck Poker is a new variation of Texas Hold 'em poker, invented by two business moguls and poker enthusiasts from Asia in 2014. Since then, this variation has had many names, including Six Plus Hold 'em, Short Deck Hold 'em and Triton Hold 'em. 

In regular poker, you play with a 52 deck of cards, but in Short Deck, some cards are removed, leaving you with a 36 deck instead. This poker variation started as an experiment between the two businessmen. First, they removed the 2s, then figured it would be better without the 3s as well, then 4s followed, and finally, they removed the 5s. 

So then they were left with a "Short Deck". And so, Short Deck Poker was born.

Short Deck Poker Rules

Because this game is a different version of poker, it has its own set of rules and gameplay

If you are familiar with Texas Hold 'em, then it can be relatively easy to grasp this poker variation as the rules are slightly similar, but they have some key differences:

  • First and foremost, the deck only has 36 cards.
  • In some games, it may or may not have any blinds. However, if the game doesn’t have blinds, then usually each player must place an ante bet.
  • Each player receives two cards.
  • The player to the left of the button then begins the game.
  • There are four betting rounds; Pre-flop, Flop, Turn, and River.
  • Aces are either high or low, and they also substitute the 5s. For example, you could have a 7 of spades, 6 of hearts, and an Ace of clubs.
  • Unlike Texas Hold 'em, in some variations, a flush beats a full house, and a three of a kind beats a straight.

So, as you can see, some rules remain the same as Texas Hold 'em, but some are different, going the other way around. Therefore, it is best to try and remember these so you do not confuse your games.

Short Deck Poker Hand Rankings

Though Short Deck Hold 'em has some of the same hands (more or less) as Texas Hold 'em, the rankings are not the same. 

For example, in some Short Deck Hold 'em versions, a flush beats a full house, whereas a full house beats a flush in Texas Hold 'em. Below are the available hand rankings in Short Deck Hold 'em, from strongest to weakest:

  1. Royal Flush: A suit of five high cards, such as the A-K-Q-J-10. 
  2. Straight Flush: Five cards of the same suit in a sequence such as 10-9-8-7-6, all hearts. 
  3. Four of a Kind: Any four cards of the same rank, such as 9-9-9-9.
  4. Flush: Five cards of the same suit, such as clubs A-Q-9-8-7. 
  5. Full House: Any cards of a three of a kind and a pair, such as Q-Q-Q-6-6. 
  6. Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same rank, such as 8-8-8.
  7. Straight: Any five cards of different suits in ascending order, such as 6 of spades, 7 of hearts, 8 of clubs, 9 of diamonds, and 10 of hearts. 
  8. Two Pairs: Two cards with the same value and the other two cards with different values, such as A-A and 10-10. They don't have to be in the same suits.
  9. One Pair: Two cards with the same value, such as K-K of any suit. 
  10. High Card: An uncountable hand, for example, an Ace of hearts, Queen of clubs, 6 of spades, 9 of diamonds and 10 of clubs.

Is Short Deck Poker Easier?

The answer to this question depends on the player. But, Short Deck Poker is not necessarily easier or harder to play. It depends on your ability to grasp the rules

You may imagine that the removal of low cards may make things interesting in that you are only left with high cards, which could mean higher chances of landing potentially strong hands compared to regular Texas Hold 'em.

And you would be correct; however, the change in rules can make things tricky. That is because where a straight used to often dominate and was harder to achieve, it can be easier to achieve in Short Deck Poker, but it does not have the same high ranking it does in Texas Hold 'em.

Still, with Short Deck Poker, you potentially have better odds of making a winning hand than you do in Texas Hold 'em, as long as you keep the rules in mind and understand the key differences in hands. Additionally, remember that while there are general rules, each game or casino may have its own variation and slightly change the rules. Hence, it is best to check with the casino or dealer for more clarification. 


Short Deck Poker might be a good change if you are bored with regular Texas Hold 'em or Omaha. However, while Short Deck Poker can be relatively simple to learn, the changes in hand rankings and strategies may require even seasoned players to adjust their approach.

So, give Short Deck Poker a try if you're looking for a new challenge or just want to up the ante on your poker game!