Shorthanded Versus Full Ring

John Mehaffey - January 26, 2013

There are two main seating style options for online poker games. These options are shorthanded and full ring. A short handed game will have either five or six seats, with six seat tables most common. Full ring tables will have either nine or ten seats. Shorthanded games are most common at Texas Hold’em although some poker rooms also offer them for Omaha games. Shorthanded games are available in cash games, sit and gos and multi table tournaments. Shorthanded games are exclusive to online poker. Live poker rooms do not offer them.

Shorthanded Games Faster

The most noticeable difference between shorthanded and full ring games is the speed of play. A full ring game may only deal 50 or 60 hands per hour. A short handed game will deal between 100 and 150 hands per hour. This makes shorthanded games more exciting for players that prefer more action.

The fewer number of players makes the blinds go around faster for shorthanded players. This means players must loosen up at those tables. Shorthanded players cannot sit back and wait for pocket aces or a flopped set to play. Aggression is key for shorthanded games. Bluffing is important in situations where it is obvious nobody has a good hand. Players will also end up in more blind stealing opportunities. It is important to take advantage of these situations to make up for the additional blinds posted each hour. If a shorthanded game deals 120 hands an hour then the big blind will come around 20 times in a six handed game. Compare that to six times in a 60 hand per hour ten seat game and you will see why it is so important to steal some blinds and pick up some orphaned pots.

Shorthanded Games Looser

Six handed games also tend to be looser than full ring games. That is because players that love action will migrate to these games because they are faster. This means that there will be more fish in a shorthanded game as conservative players will tend to avoid them because they cannot sit back and wait for monster hands.

This is not to say that playing loose in a shorthanded game is wrong. Players should play more hands and be more aggressive with them. Smaller pairs, weaker aces and high connecting cards have a much higher value in shorthanded games as kickers become less of an issue at showdown. Players should also discount the value of some draws with fewer players in the hand.

Shorthanded Players Pay More Rake

Shorthanded players may get more action and more hands per hour but pay for it in the long run. Players at shorthanded games pay more in rake, which is how poker rooms make their money. Rake is a percentage of the pot that goes to the house to cover their overhead. Not only do the faster games make shorthanded players pay more rake per hour but they also pay more rake per hand. That is because when $1 in rake is taken from the pot in a ten handed game each player theoretically paid $.10. A five handed game would theoretically rake $.20 from each player. This causes money to leave the table faster through the rake drop.

Higher rake does have one advantage. Players will clear bonuses that are tied to points or rake faster. Players should only take this into consideration if they are willing to adjust their play to a shorthanded game. YourPokerCash unlimited bankroll offers will also clear faster at shorthanded games.

Be Courteous at Shorthanded Games

One issue with shorthanded games is that they tend to break faster. All it takes is for a couple of players to leave and the remaining players may move on, especially if the fish at the table leaves. An even bigger problem is when players sit out at a shorthanded game. That is because if players leave a shorthanded game there may be players on the waitlist to replace them. When players sit out in a shorthanded game this prevents new players from entering the game. If a second player joins them then the game will often die. Keep this in mind when considering whether you should sit out or just leave. Never sit out for more than one orbit if other players are waiting. You may kill your own game doing that. It is better to get up and immediately get back on the waitlist while you take your break.

Decide Which Game Fits Your Personality

Players must decide whether they would prefer shorthanded or full ring games. Most players cannot move from one game to another easily. It is better to choose one and learn the game. Players that tend to be gamblers and enjoy action should consider shorthanded games, while conservative players will likely prefer full ring.