Playing Short handed
A popular variation of the typical 9 or 10 handed ring games, is the short handed 5 or 6 player games which can be found on nearly every site that offers online poker. Many players prefer the faster speed and increased amount of decision making that this type of game requires. It is important to take a look at the differences between short-handed and full tables.
Why Loosen up?
When playing short-handed it is a necessity to win more pots than one would normally at a full table. The blinds come around twice as often, and as such a player can’t just sit back and wait for the premium hands like they could at a full table. Seeing half as many free hands each round requires every player to begin playing less than optimum hands otherwise they will find themselves being blinded right out of the game.
Changes in hand evaluation
The main changes in starting hand evaluation when moving from a full to a short-handed table are in regards to high cards, and drawing hands. Drawing hands (like medium or small suited connectors) go way down in value since their will rarely be enough players in the pot to justify playing this type of drawing hand, and there won’t even be pot odds to pursue the draw even if there is a flop that hits the hand. Conversely, high cards even Ax or Kx are often playable if nobody else has entered the pot yet. Hands which would be trouble hands at a full table like KJ, or QT can be raising hands at a short-handed game. Quite often both players will miss the flop completely, so being the aggressor with high cards will often allow one to steal the pot if their opponent misses as well.
Winning small pots
The easiest way to win more pots to off-set the increased number of blinds that must be paid, is to win small pots, whether stealing the blinds, or betting out on the flop hoping the opponent missed as well. To improve the chances of successfully stealing blinds or winning pots early, it is important to show power in the opening round of betting. If one has a good position and feel they have the best hand; that player must not hesitate to raise. While in most cases not everyone will fold (although if they do then the blinds are immediately won by the raiser), the pre-flop raiser will often have the impetuous to continue betting on the flop, and pick up the pot if nobody else has hit.