Why Short-Deck Hold’em is Spreading From The Far East

Why Short-Deck Hold’em is Spreading From The Far East
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It may no longer wallpaper terrestrial TV channels and you rarely see it poke its head above the parapet of satellite channels beyond the midnight hour and featuring re-runs from some long forgotten event, but poker remains an enormous participation sport and global industry which is both evolving and growing.

Lavish television productions and live transmissions, such as those broadcast by Sky Sports in the mid/late 2000’s, have been replaced by a limited number of slick post production packages funded by online poker sites who also buy airtime.

But Twitch TV has given countless casinos and competitions a cheap and affordable platform to broadcast their action without the need to entertain cumbersome crews and outside broadcast units.

Ultimately poker has changed. The numbers – both players and prize-pools – remain extremely healthy but the shop windows have been redressed and new markets have come on tap.

As is the case with snooker, Asia is poker’s biggest growth territory despite, from a gambling perspective, the game lacking in the instant gratification they crave.

The rapid action that Roulette, Blackjack and especially Backgammon provide is the traditional preferred environment for Far-Eastern gamblers who have an insatiable lust for a quick gamble.

Amongst this backdrop Poker, as a thinking man’s game, has always struggled.

Stripping Out The Small Cards

But a solution has been found with a format of the game called Six-Plus Hold’em which is also commonly known as Short-Deck Hold’em. Essentially this game is no different to the Texas Hold’em we have all become accustomed.

There are two hole cards and five community cards but the 2’s, 3’s, 4’s and 5’s have been taken from the deck with Ace’s working as both the high card and as the lowest card in a straight – in this case a 5. Yes A-6-7-8-9 is a straight in this game.

Changing Vales

Removing 16 cards from the deck has a two-fold effect: Short-Deck Hold’em is considerably more exciting than its traditional counterpart as hands are invariably bigger and, secondly, the game does not utilise the traditional table of hand rankings.

With fewer cards in a Short-Deck there are only nine cards that make a flush (instead of 13) and this makes it considerably more difficult to make a flush. Mathematically it is actually more difficult to make a flush than a full house and so this hand sits above it in the hand rankings.

Counting Your Outs

As a player you will need to consider a single ‘out’ equates to 3.2 percent (to land on the turn) and 6.5 percent to appear on the turn or river.

This is one of many such Short-Deck Hold’em ‘strategy rules’ you will need to throw out of your traditional 52-card play book.

In conventional Hold’em a flush daw on the flop has nine outs to make your hand. In a stripped deck game there are only five cards (outs) that can make your hand.

But with an open-ended straight draw there are still eight cards that can make your hand and with them coming from a smaller deck (31 cards will remain unexposed as opposed to 47) the chances of hitting your hand are massively increased.

Theoretically an open-ended straight draw should ‘make’ more than 45 percent of the time.

Big Money

In less than five years Short-Deck Hold’em has gained some real momentum albeit, true to its roots in the high stakes hotbeds of Macau, Hong Kong and Manila, the short-deck tournaments tend to demand deep-pocket entry fees.

The Hendon Mob data-base demonstrates this beautifully. It has compiled a dedicated list of all-time of short-deck poker tournament winnings.

Just 179 players are listed and only the top-100 players have amassed winnings of $1,000 (US dollars) or more.

However, every one of the top-10 names on this list have acquired earnings in excess of 1,000,000. America’s Jason Koon tops the list with 4.23 million pocketed.

His four tournament results which have accounted for the entire haul all came in 2018. Most recently he finished eighth in a 55-player 10,000 entry event at the Las Vegas Aria in September where he showed 12,000 in profits.

But that’s proverbial chicken feed compared to the 127,000 the 33-year-old stumped-up to play and win the Super High Roller Series in Budva, Montenegro where, in beating 102 rivals, he won 3.58 million.

Online Bonanza

While most of us can only dream of enjoying a similar bumper payday such success stories can only serve to promote the game of Short-Deck Texas Hold’em.

Unsurprisingly the online poker fraternity have come to the rescue and jumped on the short deck poker bandwagon.

The game can be played on the iPoker Network of card rooms which includes Coral, Ladbrokes and William Hill. You can find the game under the ‘Six Plus Hold’em’ tab.

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