No Limit Texas Hold’em vs. Short Deck – Key Differences

Poker is a game of skill and strategy, with many variants that each have their own unique rules and strategies.

Two popular variants are No Limit Texas Hold’em and Short Deck Hold’em.

While they share a common base, there are key differences in terms of gameplay, strategy, and hand rankings, among others.

This article aims to elaborate on these differences and provide a comprehensive comparison between the two.

Traditional No Limit Texas Hold’em Poker

No Limit Texas Hold’em is arguably the most popular variant of poker.

It is often the game of choice at the biggest cash games and tournaments, including the World Series of Poker Main Event.


In No Limit Hold’em, each player is dealt two private cards (known as ‘hole cards’) that belong to them alone.

Five community cards are dealt face-up on the ‘board.’

All players in the game use their hole cards combined with the community cards to each make their best possible five-card poker hand.


The “No Limit” in No Limit Texas Hold’em refers to the fact that players can bet any amount of their chips at any time.

This feature adds a significant amount of strategy and excitement to the game.

Hand Rankings

In No Limit Texas Hold’em, the standard poker hand rankings apply. A Royal Flush is the highest hand, and a high card is the lowest.

The probability of making certain hands is a critical aspect of strategy in this game.

Short Deck Hold'em Poker

Short Deck Hold’em Poker

Short Deck Poker, also known as Six-Plus Hold’em, is a variant that has been gaining popularity in recent years, particularly among high-stakes players.


The primary difference between Short Deck and traditional Hold’em is that the deck only contains 36 cards instead of 52.

All 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s are removed.

This seemingly minor change significantly affects the gameplay and strategy.


Short Deck Poker typically uses a different betting format.

The game is usually played as a Pot-Limit game, meaning that the maximum bet is the current size of the pot.

This results in less frequent but potentially more substantial betting swings compared to No Limit Hold’em.

Hand Rankings

The hand rankings in Short Deck Poker are also different.

Because of the smaller deck, a flush is harder to make than a full house.

So, in most versions of Short Deck, a flush actually ranks higher than a full house.

Key Differences Between Traditional No Limit Hold'em and Short Deck Hold'em

Key Differences Between Traditional No Limit Hold’em and Short Deck Hold’em

Besides the deck size, hand rankings, and betting format, several other differences between the two games affect strategy and gameplay.

Probability of Making a Hand

The probability of making a hand in Short Deck Hold’em differs significantly from traditional Hold’em due to the smaller deck size.

In Short Deck, players are more likely to make a straight, but less likely to make a flush due to fewer cards of each suit.

Preflop Play

In Short Deck Hold’em, each player receives two hole cards, and there are fewer cards in the deck, meaning that players are more likely to receive high-value cards.

This factor influences the pre-flop strategy, with more hands being playable in Short Deck.

Postflop Play

The altered probabilities in Short Deck also impact the post-flop play.

For example, the chances of a player hitting a set on the flop when holding a pocket pair are higher in Short Deck Hold’em.

These adjusted odds can result in more aggressive post-flop play and larger pots.

Tom Dwan explains Short Deck poker (6-Plus Hold’em)


While both No Limit Texas Hold’em and Short Deck Hold’em require a deep understanding of poker strategy and skill, they offer different experiences due to their distinct rules and game dynamics.

Understanding these differences can help players decide which game best suits them the best.

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