No Limit: Can we play a full ring table in short-handed mode?
The answer should really be no, but that isn’t to say we should discount the possibility altogether. In the ‘old’ days, when online poker more mirrored the traditional casino version, full tables were not only considered a good starting point for beginners – as is still the case – but also a more popular choice for experienced players than we see today.
As the game became more tactical and aggressive the 6-max tables saw a considerable gain in popularity, the modern style of getting involved more in the action being the appropriate way of addressing the more frequent blinds.
So-called tighter players prefer to stick to full ring games, which have the additional attraction of being cheaper due to the cost per hand thanks to the ‘longer’ orbit – this might seem insignificant but over many hands makes a big difference. ‘Fewer’ blinds also means that not needing a compensatory loose approach tends to produce less variance and this, in turn, allows us to feel a little more relaxed than might be the case at a 6-max table.
Because there are far more short-handed tables nowadays (as well as heads-up tables, where tight in its literal poker sense simply won’t work), and because short-handed poker is viewed as the more fashionable and exciting game, people tend to discount full ring as an option despite the fact that it might well suit them better. But even if we ultimately end up choosing 6-max there’s something to be said for trying out bigger tables in order to better appreciate such aspects of the game as hand selection and patience. Full ring play also places more emphasis on stronger hands and implied odds.
Furthermore, once we have spent some time on both kinds of table we can return to full ring and exploit the players who are clearly the archetypal tight, conservative, no-risk full ring regulars as well as those who demonstrate little or no experience and are just too loose. It is indeed possible to apply short-handed bullying tactics and (re)steals and so on at a full table, rather than feeling that by definition we must revert to a style of ABC poker that runs the risk of being one-paced.
Poker has evolved enough over the years to afford us some flexibility.
Good luck at the tables!
Angus Dunnington (AngusD at the 32Red tables)
32Red Poker Ambassador