Playing Shorthanded In Texas Hold ’em Poker

Posted November 11, 2009 by Andrew in Articles

Playing Shorthanded PokerWhen you watch poker games on TV, such as the World Series of Poker, you normally see them starting out with ten players. However, as the game progresses, players get eliminated and the numbers around the table start to dwindle. The starting number – ten players – is what is called a full table. When the players start falling out, then we have what we call a shorthanded table. In all online poker rooms you have the standard full table and with some poker rooms they offer shorthanded from the outset, which is normally six starting players.

Is there a significance to the number of starting players? The fact is that the rules of the game don’t change, regardless of whether it’s a full table or a shorthanded one. In this respect, the player doesn’t have a thing to worry about. However, if you want to win and be a success in a shorthanded table, you will have to adjust your playing strategy. Think of it as ping pong or badminton. You can play singles or doubles. The basic rules are the same. What changes is how you think – you have to approach the game in a different manner.

Perhaps the best thing going for a shorthanded table is that the competition is relatively weak compared to a full table. Simple statistics give rise to this fact. The lesser the number of players, the less chance you have of running up against strong competition. What you have to look out for, right from the beginning, is your starting hand. With a shorthanded table, your starting hand strategy also needs to change. A pair of, say, 10s would have much more strength in a shorthanded table than in a full one. Therefore, you should take advantage of this and raise your bets.

Now if you were playing at a full table, you wouldn’t dream of doing this. Another example would be a pair of 4s or 5s. In a full table, these hole cards would be very weak starting cards. In a shorthanded table, however, there are more chances of connecting and forming three of a kind. I’ve talked about strong starting hands in a previous article and as I mentioned there, a starting hand is merely that – a start. Your success depends largely on your strategy after the flop.

At a shorthanded table, the game changes more dynamically, that’s why it’s important that you play an aggressive game, albeit a controlled one. Guessing opponent’s cards is not as easy – your opponent reading skills should be honed to their sharpest. Bluffing is more common in a shorthanded table. The trick is to be able to read your opponent and know when he is bluffing. You should also know when to fold and cut your losses. You’re probably not the only person at the table who can read their opponent’s cards.

The bottomline is that everyone gets to play shorthanded after some time. Even full tables lose players and players end up playing shorthanded. Knowing when and how to change your strategy could make all the difference in the world, but there’s no substitute for experience so just get out there and do it.

About the Author


Andrew Keyes is a poker enthusiast, a writer, researcher, speaker, and consultant. You can visit to get poker articles along with winning poker tips, tested poker strategies, the latest poker news, free poker tools, cool poker resources, and more! Visit today and you can download some of the best poker bots for automating your poker play!