6-Max Poker Strategy

6-max poker games have become very popular among online poker players. You only need to check out the cash game lobby at any popular poker site to see that the vast majority of action nowadays can be found at the 6-max tables.

As its name implies, there is a maximum of 6 players in the game, instead of the 9-10 that is typically found at a full ring table. One of the main reasons for the increased popularity of this short handed version of the game is that lots of players get attracted to this format since it encourages action. With fewer players at the table and more hands that get played every hour, makes it a desirable game for lots of online players, especially those that have perhaps grown a bit tired of playing full ring games.

But if your background is in full ring cash games, then you will need to be aware of the differences between the two games, otherwise you will not make the necessary adjustments that are needed in order to do well in the 6-max version of online poker games.

The mistake that many novice cash game players make when they first start playing 6-max online games is they believe that it’s pretty much the same game as it’s full ring counterpart, it’s just that there are fewer players at the table. Although it seems like it’s a subtle difference and the rules of the game are the same, it actually changes the game in a big way.

First of all, there is the increased pressure of the blinds. As alluded to above, with fewer players, this means the blinds will come around the table at a faster rate. With the blinds not being a considerable portion of your stack, it’s easy to think you’re not giving up much when you don’t defend them, but it actually adds up over the course of a session.

This is not to say you should always defend your blinds, because when you do, you will be out of position when you play the hand, putting yourself at a disadvantage on later streets, but with this in mind, you should be looking to put the pressure on the blinds. You can do this by opening a wider range of hands then you would normally with, especially in late position, which is the cutoff and button in 6-max.

Put simply, this is what a 6-max poker strategy should be all about. Aggression is key and the players that can balance their aggressive play but at the same time know when to get away from a hand when everything suggests that the other player has a hand they won’t be folding, are the ones that will do well in 6-max games.

Blind stealing is hugely important, but so is taking initiative in the hand, as this will allow you to steal lots of pots even when you don’t have a hand. Having a hand is only important when you actually get to a showdown, but as is quite often the case when you’re playing 6-max, players are unlikely to have much of a hand on the flop, so the first person that takes the initiative in the hand, which is often the pre-flop raiser, will win it, regardless of what hand they actually have.

Another big difference that you will notice once you transition over to short-handed 6-max games is there is a lot more 3-betting and 4-betting that takes place. In full ring games, when a player 3-bets, it’s typically always done with a premium hand, but this is not the case in 6-max, and you will definitely want to have the light 3-bet/4-bet in your poker arsenal. In addition to this, you will want to learn how to deal with playing against aggressive opponents, since you will encounter them frequently.

All of this might sound a bit daunting if you have never played 6-max online poker games before, but once you gain some experience playing these games on the Internet, you will gain in confidence, and it will help you to take your 6-max game to the next level. If you haven’t played a hand of cash game poker online, it may be a wise idea to start out playing at full ring tables, since similar strategies apply, such as making big hands, value betting them, and looking for good spots to get other players to fold a better hand.

However, in 6-max, since players are forced to play with a wider range of hands, you should definitely look to value bet more thinly against players who are calling stations, and there are many of these types of players in low stakes short handed games, as they love the action.