For most people, starting out in poker cash games involves playing Full Ring, 9 player tables. These slow, tight tables are great for getting yourself acquainted with the game. When you want to take your skills up a notch, however, it’s time to start playing like the pros. If you watch professionals play, they are most commonly found at 6 max tables, where the action is good and the play is loose. Adjusting to shorthanded play isn’t always difficult, but they are certainly a change in pace if you are someone that plays a very tight and passive game. You can’t count on hanging around for the best hand. That’s for sure.
We’ll talk about the differences and how to adjust, but it’s worth pointing out that you may need to move down in stakes until you are used to them. Don’t worry, though, while you’ll temporarily move down in blind levels you will likely improve your win rate once you have made the changes necessary to play these smaller tables.
The most obvious difference is that there are fewer people at the table. That means you’ll be in the blinds more often and you’ll have to play more hands than you would in a full ring game. The simplest way to explain this is: imagine that you are playing a standard range of hands, say, from an opening hand chart. A 6 max game plays as if the first three positions have all folded. If you are Under The Gun in a 6 max game, you will be essentially playing your Full Ring range for Middle Position. Even being the first to act you can play many more hands than in a Full Ring game. Knowing that everyone will be playing looser as well, you will have to become confident playing a wider range of hands, attempting to steal the blinds more, and getting maximum value when you do have a very strong hand pre-flop.
For help making these pre-flop decisions automatic, you can train with our Pre-Flop Trainer, which uses a 6 max table for quizzing you on your opening play.
In a 6 max game, you are going to be put to the test in some post-flop spots. You are playing a looser game, so how do you know what to do after the flop when you have a hand you might never play in a Full Ring Table? Position is always important, but in these shorthanded games it is absolutely vital. When you have position on a player, you can very easily take advantage of their weakness and steal pots away from them. You can’t always be in position, however, so it is important to learn about ranges in 6 max games and know when to call and when to fold given what kinds of hands your opponent might have from that position. Aggression is the name of the game in 6 max, so be ready and know when to use it to your advantage.
The Dreaded Variance
With more aggressive action happening in each hand you will be experiencing more variance in a 6 max game. The best solution to this is to practice good bankroll management. If you do not have 30-40 buy-ins for the stakes you play, you might run into trouble. By having the bankroll to play, though, you won’t worry about going broke and you’ll be able to hang on for the ride because the larger swings only mean that your profit can grow more quickly as well.
There are more minute details that differ between full ring and 6 max games, but these three things are the most important for understanding how you can adapt. Loosening up your pre-flop play, being aggressive in position after the flop, and holding on for the swings will take you up to the next level and have you playing like the pros.
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Ace Poker Solutions
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