PokerStars tends to get all the press for new poker variants (and deservedly so, as it is the largest online poker room in the world and has been releasing a new game every few months), but partypoker recently launched its own novelty cash game that it hopes will resonate with action junkies: SHORTDECK.

SHORTDECK (yes, it is officially in all caps) is partypoker’s version of Six Plus Hold’em (and ironically, “partypoker” is all lowercase), a game which gained popularity a few years ago in the high stakes games in Macau and was launched by PokerStars in January. It is a Texas Hold’em game, but with the significant change that all cards lower than six have been removed from the deck.

The Ace can still be used to complete a high or low straight, but seeing as the traditional “wheel” is impossible, the new lowest straight possible is A-6-7-8-9.

Because there are fewer cards in the deck, the hand rankings are different in SHORTDECK than they are in standard Hold’em. Instead of this:

Royal Flush
Straight Flush
Four-of-a-Kind
Full House
Flush
Straight
Three-of-a-Kind
Two Pair
Pair
High Card

We now have this:

Royal Flush
Straight Flush
Four-of-a-Kind
Flush
Full House
Three-of-a-Kind
Straight
Two Pair
Pair
High Card

As you can see, a Flush is now ranked higher than a Full House and a Three-of-a-Kind is now higher than a Straight. I won’t get into all the math, but the reason Full Houses are easier to hit in SHORTDECK and are thus ranked lower is because it is easier to make a set (fewer total cards from which to find one of those two outs) and a the same time, there are fewer cards left in the deck to prevent us from making the additional pair. In other words, without the twos through fives, fewer cards can be dealt that do not help us make a full house.

Straights are also much easier than in regular Hold’em for a similar reason. With the low cards gone, the range of cards available is smaller and therefore the chances of finding a card that helps a straight are higher.

SHORTDECK games at partypoker are six-handed and interestingly, require every player to place an ante on each hand. Thus, with 1) antes, 2) six-handed tables, and 3) easier-to-make hands, SHORTDECK is bound to be full of action.

And another unique aspect of the game that partypoker has added (though it wouldn’t necessarily have to be unique to SHORTDECK) is that players are allowed to remove chips from their stack when the stack reaches a certain point. Typically, if a person wants to take chips off the table, he must leave the table for an extended period of time. If he returns before that time limit, his stack remains what it was when he left. In SHORTDECK, players can remove chips and stay at the table.

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