iPoker to Debut Six-Plus Hold’em Poker Variant on Monday

The Euro-facing iPoker Network, generally regarded as the world’s fourth-largest online poker network, will be introducing a new poker game on Monday — Six-Plus Hold’em.   Six-plus is an interesting addition to iPoker’s game offerings, and if it’s successful, players can expect that several of iPoker’s competitor will bring out their own Six-Plus offerings in the coming months.

The "full house" at iPoker likely had a few extra residents, if recent allegations are true.

If successful, Six-Plus Hold’em will be the first significant poker variant to be introduced since several sites and networks added Open-Faced Chinese a couple of years ago.

Six-Plus Hold’em is an action-focused game that’s based on the rules of traditional Texas Hold’em, but it’s played with a shortened deck: All the deuces, treys, fours and fives are pulled from a traditional deck, leaving the 36 cards, six through ace, still in play, hence the moniker “Six-Plus.”

The rules for assembling hands remain the same, beginning with a single high card (lowest possible hand), then a pair, and on all the way up to a royal flush.  However, because the removal of the deuces through fives changes the frequency of the way that straights, flushes and sets/trips (three of a kind) appear in hands, the ranking of the middle-order poker hands is jumbled to reflect their actual rarity.

As all of our readers should know, here are the ranks for traditional poker:

  • Royal Flush
  • Straight Flush
  • Four of a Kind
  • Full House
  • Flush
  • Straight
  • Three of a Kind
  • Two Pair
  • One Pair
  • High Card

That order changes in Six-Plus Hold’em, however:

  • Royal Flush
  • Straight Flush
  • Flush (moves up in ranking)
  • Full House
  • Three of a kind
  • Straight (moves down in ranking)
  • Two pair
  • A pair
  • High card

The two significant changes, as one can see, are that a flush moves ahead of a full house, while three of a kind moves ahead of a straight.  (As for the straight, the ace still serves as a wrap card, being either low (A-6-7-8-9) or high (10-J-Q-K-A.)  That relative devaluing of the straight might seem counterintuitive, since flushes and straights are both “distribution” hands, while full houses and trips are “aggregate” hands, but the ranking order does indeed reflect the relative rarity of hitting those four middle-order hands.

The real secret for Six-Plus’s growing popularity is that the spread of odds across those four mid-level hands is tighter as a group, and the clustering of available cards makes it much more “correct,” in terms of possible odds, to continue to chase with half-made hands.  Because the deuces through fives have been pulled, and all such made hands appear quite a bit more often overall, it turns Six-Plus into a heavy action game where the river card most often determines the winner.  The hands themselves play out the same as in traditional Texas Hold’em: Two down cards are dealt to each player, and then betting proceeds through the revealing of the community cards — the three-card flop, plus the single-card turn and river.

Six-Plus Hold’em originates in Asian poker rooms, and has become a popular variant in the Macau “Big Game,” which has drawn many of the world’s most well known players.  Phil Ivey and Tom “durrrr” Dwan.  The pair appeared on a promotional video for Asia Gaming Fans last June to tout the action aspects of the new variant.  Since then, the game has increased in popularity on the international scene, and its addition to iPoker’s offerings is its first significant appearance in the EU-centered online world.

Six-Plus Poker seems likely to develop a loyal following, especially at the game’s higher stakes.  That’s the most common path for new variants, anyway; they’re tested out by poker’s most dedicated players, and from there they slowly trickle down to the rank-and-file, whether through online sites or informal live games.

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