Popularity of Deck Poker Spreads Across Globe in 2018

Poker is a game that never stops evolving, as new formats rise in popularity to maintain the ecosystem fresh and intriguing when old versions begin to feel stale. Among the new variations that saw a massive increase in popularity this season was short deck poker, a game which uses the same basic rules as Texas Hold’em, but without the lowest cards in the deck.

Short Deck Poker

Short deck poker — also known as six-plus poker — had a massive surge in popularity in 2018 thanks to a variety of high roller tournaments which used the format. (Picture: PokerScout)

While brief deck poker has been around for a couple of years now, there is no doubt that 2018 was a breakout season, since some of the biggest tournament series in the world included the format one of their offerings. With more big hands creating more action, short deck poker should continue to draw new fans in 2019 and beyond.

Phil Ivey, Triton Introduce World to Short Deck Game

Heading into 2018, short deck poker had only ever been played as a money game structure, primarily among high rollers looking to elicit more activity between professionals and wealthy amateurs. But that changed in May, when the Triton Super High Roller Series Montenegro included the variation in its record of events.

The event proved popular, despite a very high price tag. While it cost KHD 250,000 ($32,000) to input, 61 players took part, with none other than Phil Ivey taking down the HKD 4.75 million ($610,000) top prize.

This was hardly the end of short deck’s ascendance in 2018. That exact same series in Montenegro featured a HKD 1 million ($128,000) buy-in brief deck poker event, which saw an impressive 103 entrants take part. That tournament would ultimately be won by Jason Koon.

The Triton series continued to offer short deck poker events during its later stops throughout the year, such as in Korea, where three of the five occasions in Jeju used the format. And with players responding favorably to the idea, it was only a matter of time before other organizers fell in line and started to offer the game themselves.

What is Short Deck Poker?

Short deck poker was played in 2014, gaining popularity in high stakes cash games in Macau and other Asian poker hotbeds. The game is played like Texas Hold’em, but with the twos through fives removed from the deck before play, meaning just 36 cards are used. Because of this change, hand probabilities are changed, causing a flush to be ranked above a complete house. Some brief deck games also rank three of a kind above a straight, though this was not true in the Triton tournaments held in 2018.

Short Deck for the Masses

A $10,000 short deck championship was included in the 2018 Poker Masters series in the Aria Resort in Las Vegas this September. The Aria also announced plans to determine how the format played a wider audience, declaring that on Dec. 2, the casino could replace two of its daily hold’em tournaments with brief deck events to find out if the version will prove just as popular outside of the high roller circuit.

Naturally, the format is also making its way online, with Americas Cardroom introducing brief deck money games in September. As PokerStars experiments with different formats, there are indications that the company could have plans to introduce short deck to its client in the near future also.

Only time will tell if brief deck is a flash in the pan, a permanent staple of nosebleed money games and tournaments, or the next big thing in the poker world. But as 2018 has revealed, there is still room for innovation in poker — meaning there is plenty of reason to stick to the sport even if you begin to get bored of Texas Hold’em.

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