It is often said that poker is a strategic game, hence why it is important to think about every decision that you take. Choosing which poker game to play is not something that is considered much when it comes to trying to increase an online poker bankroll, but it’s an important decision nonetheless.
If you’re playing no limit hold’em cash games online, most players will gravitate towards either full-ring or 6-max. At a full-ring table, there can be up to ten players whilst 6-max tables allow for up to six players.
Which Poker Game Should You Play?
It is an important question to ask because there is a significant difference in terms of profitability, game dynamics, strategies, overall pace and variance between the two games.
Full ring games are normally filled with passive players. With more players at the table, there is a greater likelihood of players being dealt premium hands, or better hands than what you’ve been dealt.
When playing at a full-ring table, you’ll also be playing a lot of multi-way pots, so there is a good chance that someone has caught a good piece of the flop.
All of this lends itself to more conservative and straight-forward play, and this style of play exposes players to less variance. Playing full-ring is more of a grind, but at the same time it’s a great game for beginners. In full-ring players can afford to wait around for strong hands, and when you’re playing tight, you’re going to find yourself in fewer tough spots than you otherwise would if you were to play marginal hands.
With so many full-ring games online being full of tight-passive players, it does make it more difficult to make money in these games – unless there are fishy players at the table. However, fishy players usually prefer playing short-handed 6-max games because they enjoy playing more hands and the faster action. At a full-ring table you may only get dealt 50/60 hands per hour. So, you’re playing fewer hands, and with the games playing in a more straight-forward manner, it makes it easier to multi-table full-ring.
Poker tournaments tend to have 10 player tables, so this is the strategy you want to master if your goal is to win a tournament. But once you reach the final tables it will become a 5 player game and then lower. Learn how not to suck at poker tournaments to reach that final stage.
6-Max Poker Games
Short-handed 6-max poker games are very popular online even though you will never find them at brick-and-mortar casinos. 6-max poker games tend to attract action junkies that like to gamble and play a lot of hands. In 6-max, you’ll see 75/80 hands per hour.
With fewer players at the table when playing a 6-max game, the blinds come around a lot faster, and there is less chance that someone is dealt a good hand. This lends itself to a much more aggressive game than the regular full-ring games, and a simple tight approach won’t do as well.
In 6-max there is a lot more stealing, re-stealing, c-betting and 3-betting.
Therefore, you need to know how to deal with aggression, and how to be aggressive yourself to take advantage of the stealing opportunities that will present themselves, because you can’t just be relying on making hands.
It is also a lot easier to isolate the fish in 6-max. If there’s 1-2 fish at the table, it’s going to be a much simpler task isolating and targeting these players with 3-6 players at the table (which is typical for 6-max) than it is to do the same thing at a full-ring table.
The aggressive style of play adopted by most 6-max players makes it a higher variance game to play, but in saying that there is variance in every game it cannot be ignored. It’s something that you must accept is part of the game.
On the flip side, if you’re a good 6-max player, it can be a very profitable game for you to play, because players are stacking off wider, which can lead to players making bigger mistakes.
Because the action is forced more and you’re playing with a wider range of hands, players who possess better post-flop skills dominate these games. Most pots in 6-max cash games are contested between 2-3 players, it is rare to play large multi-way pots. A lot of the time, the players involved in the pot won’t have much of a hand, so it comes down to which player wants the pot more, with stealing being extremely important.
Since you’re always involved in the action, it does make it a little more difficult to multi-table 6-max games, but once you get comfortable playing this short-handed version of the game, you shouldn’t have much difficulty playing at least 2-4 tables at the same time.
It is also worthwhile mentioning that if you’re good at short-handed play, when you’re playing at a full-ring table that breaks up, it gives you an additional edge over most opponents still at the table, as they will not be adjusting properly.
In the end, which game you should consider is going to come down to personal preferences. Obviously, if you prefer playing a tighter more solid style of play and want to play a game with less variance than you should play full-ring. A tighter approach will show a decent profit in the more passive full-ring games.
But if you prefer playing a more aggressive style which can be more volatile but potentially a lot more profitable than 6-max games would be the way to go. Although it does require a lot more skill due to the increased levels of aggression.
As 6-max is more fun to play, it does make it the game of choice for many new online poker players. And because it’s more popular than full-ring, there are always active tables to join.
At some online poker rooms, there isn’t always a lot of action for full-ring. Does this mean you should jump right into 6-max poker games? Probably not, unless you’re prepared to lose a bit of money learning how to deal with aggression, because short-handed poker games attract better and more aggressive players.
If you haven’t played a hand of online poker before, you may want to start out by playing full-ring games, since it will help you to learn how to go about playing ABC TAG poker well and be a consistent winner before attempting more advanced and often more riskier plays.
Once you’ve built a solid foundation in full-ring games, you can switch over to 6-max and start opening up your game by playing more hands in position.
Once you’ve played both games, you can then decide which of the two forms of poker you prefer. Keep in mind, however, that if you expect to master a new game, specialization is key. Even though there are similarities between full-ring and 6-max NLHE cash games, it is important that you choose one poker game that you want to become really good at.
Test both of these poker variances to see to which you adapt better, then sharp your skills by developing a poker strategy.