6-max poker: theoretical and technical aspects

Shorthanded poker is a type of poker that is played with the elementary positions of the full ring tables. It dispenses with those marked with +1 and +2 and leaves on the table the basic ones to be able to develop the poker game normally.

As there are fewer players, the pace increases, which makes these poker games more frenetic. Having a high concentration capacity is even more important than in the other modalities, since the time interval between turns per player is shorter.

To learn how to play 6-max poker, we are going to give you a series of guidelines to develop your own style in this modality. We will distinguish between theoretical aspects, which collect the strategic bases of the game, and technical aspects, which collect key points according to positions. Because although it is a type of game characterized by its strong loose aggressive aspect, but it is really advisable to play with a tighter aggressive style.

Theoretical aspects of 6-max poker


Let's start by talking about the 6-max poker strategy. Keep in mind that 6-max poker:

  • It has different rules at each table, but they all share a high loose-aggressive component.
  • They are characterized by playing many hands.
  • The VPIP has to be at least 25%.

The theory of 6-max poker says that, depending on the round, you should look at the following aspects.

In the preflop

  • UTG. It tends to play tighter than the rest to have a more limited range to raise.
  • MP1. The player in the first middle position shares many game traits with the UTG. Check-calling is a good idea to expand the stack.
  • Cutoff. One of the best positions in terms of profit. Tends to limp in and 3bet if the opportunity arises. You can use them to put pressure.
  • Button. It is the one who can make more 3bets, cold calls and limps. If it comes up, he can raise more than half of the hands.

In the flop

The game in the flop in a 6-max poker game is characterized by:

  • Betting heads-up. Weak draws are dealt with check-call or check-raise depending on their profitability.
  • Cancel the check-call or check-raise if an opponent raises.
  • Disguise strong projects by giving up the lead of the round.
  • The use of c-bets over any other type of bet.
  • The reduced use of calls. They are usually played with flops with A or K only.
  • Playing IP, it is possible to make floating overcards.

In the turn

In the turn, check-folds are usually reduced to marginal levels. It is also possible for the villain to abuse the floating. If you are the target of this strategy, counter it with a check-raise.

Playing with mediocre projects, it is better to check-fold, as long as two players have paid. It can serve as a stopgap, waiting for the river to give you something to defend yourself with.

However, folding is usually the most advisable when playing without premium cards or with projects with potential, especially to save money and avoid compromising the stack.

In the river

The river usually gives prominence to value bets, as well as bluff raises. Here one tends to confuse the villain by raising and check-raising alternately, but it requires knowing what hand range the opponent has for this to work.

Technical aspects of 6-max poker


Regarding the technical aspects of shorthanded poker, the following should be kept in mind regardless of the street the game is on.

  • 6-max poker is the ultimate expression of IP poker. Therefore, position is everything.
  • That compromises the play of delicate positions, such as UTG, which faces each round as a game to the death and must always open with a raise and then follow with a cold call.
  • Forget about calling the big blind preflop (limping) and be dynamic. Fluency is the key from this position, especially on the way to UTG +2.
  • Delicate positions such as UTG must forget limping.
  • It is played heads-up, except on the river, where check-raise combined with raise allows to play the opponent's fold if his hand is not good.
  • It is easy to get into the pot from BB with a call. It is a way to play IP to the maximum on the river, although remember that position is more important than the round when playing 6-max poker.
  • If you have to defend the blind, the best thing to do is to re-raise. Raising to the BB is not usually common, and maybe even with a re-raise the steal ends up being a reality, but the confusion that leaves that play after having defended it with a re-raise can reveal interesting data in the game in the next streets.

What can be extracted from all this is that shorthanded poker is a type of game in which everything revolves around the position. It is also a very defensive game, requiring measured counterattacks in order to defend the position. It is a more melee, attack and defense type of poker, where timing is elementary.

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