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Happy Friday #EliteMafia! Hopefully everyone is staying safe and healthy during these crazy times.
Last week we kicked off our #ElitePoker content and provided you with the basics. Earlier this week, my guy Jesse Weller posted a great article that describes the differences between Cash Games and Tournaments. For those of you who have not yet read it, I strongly suggest that you do.
Today I want to walk you through several different table sizes of poker games. They are full ring, 6-max, and heads-up games. Although the only difference between the games is the number of players at the table, each of these games has a totally different strategy.
As you continue your journey in the online poker world, you will start identifying what game works best for you and what game you prefer playing. Let’s jump right into it and talk about the differences between these three games.
Full Ring Games
Definition: This is essentially a standard poker game where nine or ten players are seated. Online it is rare that you a find 10-handed table, that is more in live poker, so a full ring table online usually consists of nine players. Nine players is the maximum allowed at the table at any given time.
Overview: In full ring games, players can play tight and patiently wait for a good hand before getting involved in a pot. You are not seeing a lot of hands per hour in full ring game because it plays slower than a shorthanded game. The aggression in full ring games does not have to be elevated and playing conservative is totally fine considering that the blinds will not hit you as often as they would in a shorthanded game. Your opening range in full ring games should be tighter for the most part and you can wait for good position to widen up your opening range. Playing weaker hands in early position in full ring games can get you into a lot of trouble because there are still a lot of people left to act behind you. For example, Ax under the gun in a full ring game is not as strong as Ax in shorthanded game under the gun. While variance is a big part of poker, full ring games are less variance than shorthanded games because you are not playing as many hands and seeing as many flops during the game, since the action is slower in this type of game. Most poker games, whether it is cash or tournaments and sit-n-go’s or multi table are full ring, it is the standard unless the format states otherwise. Due to the tighter range of hands being played in a full ring table, this is the best type of game for people just getting into poker.
Definition: Same concept as the full ring table, but the maximum number of players at the table is six. This is considered shorthanded.
Overview: 6-max is my favorite table size, especially in sit-n-go’s. While poker is poker, playing in a 6-max table is completely different than a full ring table. The major difference between the two is the speed of the game. In 6-max, being that the maximum amount of people on the table is six at any given moment, you are seeing more hands and more flops than you would in a full ring table. In 6-max, your opening range is typically wider and although position is still important, you can open lighter than you normally would from just about any position. You are more likely to open with hands like J 10, Q J, T 9, even low suited connectors in short-handed tables, whereas these are hands you might fold in early position in a full ring table. Hands also become strong considering fewer cards are being dealt in a 6-max table, in other words, the range of playable hands increases significantly shorthanded. It is also easier to bluff in shorthanded games than it is in full ring games, though a lot of players grinding 6-max tables are aware of that and open up their calling ranges as well. Something else to note about 6-max games are that they are much higher in variance than a full ring, for obvious reasons. Not only are you and your opponents widening up your opening ranges, but you are also seeing more hands an hour than you do in a full ring game. Typically, this is a game for more experienced players.
Definition: Heads up poker is a form of poker that is played between only two players.
Overview: While there is a ton of skill involved in heads-up poker, it is also the one that has the most luck involved. Due to the fact that it is you versus one other player, the range of hands that you will see flops with or raise with is huge. This will cause you to play a high percentage of the hands you are dealt and see a ton of flops. In most cases, dependent on stacks sizes of course, you will see the button raise anywhere between 85-100 percent of his hands. Any ace is considered a very strong hand heads up because a high percentage of the time you are leading the way with ace high pre-flop. Aggression is huge in heads up poker because you are either the small blind or big blind every single hand. If you are too conservative in heads-up, you can easily get blinded out or put your stack at a disadvantage, where your opponent can start calling you very light and then that is when the luck factor plays a huge role. All pairs in heads up are stronger than they are in any other games such as 6-max and full ring, yes even 22. In heads-up poker stack sizes are very important, though playing a shorter stack heads-up is easier than in any other game because you can just jam it in. Stealing the blinds can get your stack right back up in no time heads up and it is easier to do than in any other game. Calling with ace high in heads-up poker is something you often see, but it takes good reading skills to be able to make these types of calls. As you can see, there is strategy in heads-up and being aggressive puts you at an advantage considering the format, but since you are essentially playing your entire range of hands there is a ton of variance too. Calling all in with Q high versus a low stack is viable in heads-up play, though very volatile. I have dabbled in a lot of head-to-head play and although I am not an overly aggressive player, I do pick up the aggression in heads-up play. While anyone could play heads-up, you want some experience under your belt before diving into these games.