Playing Short-Handed

6-Max tournaments are becoming increasingly popular nowadays in the poker world. Not only are there many 6-max tournaments online on the major poker sites, but there is even a 6-max tournament at the World Series of Poker. Before jumping into a 6-max tournament, players have to be ready to make a few key strategy adjustments to their game if they want any chance of succeeding.


The structure of a 6-max No Limit Hold Em Poker tournament is obviously different than a standard tournament in that is has less players sitting at the table. But less players does not only mean fewer hands are being dealt out. The major reason why a strategy adjustment is needed is that with the players, the blinds are going to hit each player at a 33% more rapid pace. (6 players is 66% of a standard 9 players, meaning the blinds will hit 33% more) This obviously means that stacks are going to shrink quicker if players do not play hands. Therefore, players hand selection needs to be much more loose in a 6-max tournament. To be exact, a player should be 33% looser, meaning that on average if the player plays 3 out of 9 hands at a standard tournament, he should now play on average 4 out of 9 hands.


A famous poker professional gave a good analogy on how to play 6-max tournaments. Assuming the player is Under the Gun at the 6-max table, the professional said, “Pretend as if you were playing a standard 9-man table tournament and the first 3 players folded”. This is advice all players should abide by. So what hands are going to fall in a players opening range?

Although a player maybe under-the-gun, there are fewer players now to get through. Therefore, a player can start to play all suited aces, A-9o can be included, as well as hands such as KJo, K-10s, Q-10s and pairs 5 and above. Suited connectors can even be included assuming the stacks are large. Players have to play more hand and be much more willing to mix it up and get involved in pots. Players cannot wait around for big hands as long as they could in a standard tournament since their stack is going to shrink much faster.

If players make these relatively easy adjustments, they will have a much easier time assimilating to the different structure of the 6-max tournament.