posted on July 13, 2010 06:05
The most popular form of online Texas Holdem is short-handed cash games. Live poker venues, such as casinos, are reluctant to spread this type of game due to the increased cost of extra dealers and floorspace, but those problems do not exist when playing online.
Short-handed games, usually played with six players, are far more complex than their full ring counterparts as players are forced to play a wider range of hands, partly down to the fact the cost per round is higher due to each player having to pay the blinds more often.
Skills you use in full ring games such as hand reading, bet sizing, position and pot control are needed in far greater quantities when playing short-handed. You also need to alter your playing style as the standard tight-aggressive game that is usually so successful in full ring games will find it more difficult to win in short-handed cash games.
You simply have to play a wider range of hands otherwise you will become easy to read and exploit. You can afford to play more hands as there are less opponents to deal with which means there is less chance that one of them has a premium hand to play back at you. For example, if you make a raise from early position in a full ring game you will have eight or nine players to get through but at a short-handed game you will have at most five players for your raise to get through, almost 50% less.
This means that hand strength differs greatly from short-handed to full ring. Pocket pairs gain more strength and even a hand as low as pocket twos will often be the best hand, at least preflop. Hands such as suited connectors actually fall in value as there are less opponents and therefore less implied odds for you to chase your draws with.
Finally, as there are less players the speed of the game is much quicker, which in turn means players have to make more decisions per hour. In poker we make the majority of our money by capitalising on the mistakes of weak players after we have forced them to make a decision so more hands per hour and more tough decisions for weak players to make means you will potentially make more money.
If you play poker online, particularly cash games, then you owe it to yourself, and your bankroll, to at least try short-handed games.