Shorthanded Strategy

Many players avoid short handed games because they do not have the skills required to be profitable in them. There is no magic bullet for becoming a solid short handed player, but it is a skill you will want to aquire, as short handed play is a potential gold mine, just waiting to be excavated.

Starting Hands

The first fact that becomes apparent when playing short handed is that it does not take as strong a hand to win. With ten players in a hand, the average winning hand will be greater than that of a six person table. This should have an effect on our starting hand selection. Big cards increase in value, even with weaker kickers. Smaller pairs also increase in value.

Pot Odds

Thought should be given to pot odds as well. With fewer players in each hand, pot odds will not be as good as they would with more limpers and drawers. For this reason, the value you place on those draw hands like suited connectors and what not should be less than if you were at a full table. You will rarely have pot odds to play draw hands. While generally you continue in a hand if you have the best hand or best draw, in short handed games, you should often toss the best draw, unless pot odds or implied odds allow it.

Short handed games reward the aggressive, even more so than standard Hold'em. Many hands will be won with a high card ace or a small pair, so lower your betting requirements. If you do not plan to play aggressively, then you will need to leave the table. Passive players get eaten alive in short handed games!

A final tip is to be wary of maniac players in a short handed game. While their style of play hurts them at full tables, they are actually playing somewhat correctly short handed, even if they do not realize it. Their aggression is perfectly suited for heads up and short handed play! If you do not feel you can match the maniacs aggressiveness, sit out. It's much easier to take money from the weak/passive players in a short handed game.