Short Deck vs. No-Limit Hold’em (and unique strategies for Short Deck)

Before we delve into the main difference between Short Deck and No-Limit Hold’em, two popular variants in Sacramento poker rooms, it’s important to first understand the rules that apply to both of these casino games. 

  • Every player receives two hole cards. 
  • Players can bet any amount of their stack at any time. 
  • There are three rounds of community cards, namely, the flop, turn and river, with a round of betting after each. 


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The main difference between Short Deck and the No-Limit Hold’em 

The most notable difference between these two popular poker variants is that Short Deck follows a “button blind” structure, meaning each can post an ante, and those on the button position can post a blind. In short, there is only one blind per hand, which is usually 2-4 times the size of the ante. 


Before a player can call preflop, he needs to complete an ante to match the size of the blind. 


In recent years, there have also been some notable rule adjustments in Short Deck, which means you need a set of strategies that are different from the one you used in No-Limit Hold’em. 


These are the other rule adjustments you have to keep in mind: 


  • Instead of the usual 52 cards, Short Deck is only played with 36 cards since the twos, threes, fours and fives are removed. 
  • Short Deck has an ante format different from the conventional small and big blind. 
  • Because the flushes are harder to make in this poker variant, they can beat full houses.


Unique strategies in Short Deck

The rule adjustments mentioned above also come with a set of strategies different from No-Limit Hold’em. 


Play more hands preflop 

And because you’re getting better pot odds preflop compared to other poker variants and the hand equities run closer together, you need to play more hands in Short Deck. Additionally, the ante structure means there is a small blind for every player except for the button position that acts like a big blind, so you need to play looser preflop than you would normally do. 


Limping in No-Limit Hold’em is generally frowned upon, especially from an early position; however, this is a standard play in Short Deck.


Straight draws have more value 

Straight draws are easier to hit in Short Deck compared to No-Limit Hold’em since the former have fewer cards. For instance, a player with an open-ended straight draw on the flop on Short Deck has a 26% chance of hitting on the turn, whereas in No Limit, it’s just 17%.


Having fewer cards also means the connected hands can go up in value since they make the most straights; this is especially true for the T9, JT, and other middle-connected hands. By contrast, the No Limit treats KQ as a hand superior to lower connected hands.


Fast-play strategy 

Fast-play is recommended in Short Deck simply because hand equities run closer, which also means that you need to apply these complementary strategies: overbet more than usual (as compared to other poker variants), fold less, and avoid slow-play. 


Folding less is advisable because it’s relatively easy to have sufficient equity to continue in the Short Deck. On the other hand, excessive folding is not considered a good strategy since you want to realize your share of the pot. 


Instead of too much folding, a better approach is to overbet, which makes sense as other players will usually have a lot of equity against you. In addition, you need to avoid or at least limit your trapping when playing Short Deck. 


Blockers are more valuable 

Because there are fewer cards, blockers have more value in Short Deck. As a result, your strategies should also include calling down lighter in some spots since other players are less likely to have a straight, and bluffing more in order to represent a straight. 


Another thing to remember is that 99 is a more valuable blocker in Short Deck. 


Final Words on Short Deck and No-Limit Hold’em

Despite the introduction of new poker variants, the No-Limit Hold’em remains the most popular and profitable one. But in recent years, we’ve seen Short Deck gaining popularity thanks to star-studded high roller events. 


The growing popularity of Short Deck is also attributed to its unique appeal–players find it easier to hit high-value combinations because of the smaller deck. 


If you’re looking for a fun poker venue in the Sacramento area, why not visit Capital Casino? Aside from our exciting table games, we also have top-notch amenities and facilities, friendly and accommodating staff, and mouthwatering food in our bar and restaurant