Short Handed Limit
Shorthanded limit has become very popular lately – Thanks to online poker websites and their new 6 max tables. However there are not that many books(or rather any books) out there solely on shorthanded limit and how to adjust your full table limit game strategy to suit a shorthanded game. Here are reading suggestions from forums, websites, and articles:
Shorthanded Limit Hold’em: An Annotated Reading List by Matt Fisher :
In the days before online poker,shorthanded poker games were hard to find for low- and middle-limit players. Casinos cannot afford to spread shorthanded games because of the extra space and personnel required. Online, however, five- and six-max tables are everywhere. These games are apparently some of the best on the internet. They move faster and players get to see more hands per hour. Playing shorthanded requires some strategic changes-for example, you must alter your starting-hand requirements and defend your blinds more often. Unfortunately, not a lot has been written about correct shorthanded strategy, but you can find some valuable information here and there. After a quick survey of the best poker books, I have compiled a reading list for shorthanded Limit Hold’em. I suggest reading all of the following in the order listed, but even one or two of them should greatly improve your game. Enjoy!
Super System II by Doyle Brunson
Poker professional Jennifer Harman has rewritten the Limit Hold’em section for this sequel to Brunson’s classic poker text. Harman’s chapter is full of valuable information that should be helpful to most poker players. Towards the end of her chapter, she discusses shorthanded and heads-up play. Although her section on shorthanded Hold’em is brief, it is a good starting point for anyone with an interest in shorthanded games.
Poker Essays by Mason Malmuth
Malmuth has published three volumes of short pieces that address a number of important poker concepts. The first volume contains two essays dealing with shorthanded play (pp.151-156). In the first essay, Malmuth explains how he would play 8-7 suited, on the button, in a ten-handed game and in a three-handed game. In the second essay, he explains six important shorthanded tips:
- “Understand that many hands change value.”
- “Try to play hands that can win by themselves.”
- “Be prepared to go to the river.”
- “Don’t be as afraid of scare cards.”
- “Understand that tight players are less likely to play in shorthanded games.”
- “Be willing to check and call more.”
Malmuth’s essays are concise, but highly informative.
Weighing the Odds in Hold’em Poker by King Yao
This is one of the newer books on Limit Hold’em, and it has been highly praised by several top poker theorists. In his review of the book, Mason Malmuth states that “the short handed chapters are some of the best material currently published in this area.” These two chapters, entitled “Shorthanded Limit Hold’em” and “Common Mistakes in Shorthanded Play,” explain several important concepts and include numerous examples from actual hands. Yao explains and expands upon many of the ideas that Malmuth introduces in his shorthanded essays. This is must-reading for anyone with an interest in shorthanded play.
Hold’em Poker for Advanced Players by David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth
Hold’em Poker for Advanced Players is arguably the definitive work on the game. The majority of the book addresses full games, but there is an excellent section on shorthanded play. Sklansky and Malmuth begin with a discussion of heads-up play before explaining concepts that apply to other types of shorthanded games. You will find detailed information about how to play on the flop, the turn, and the river. This is essential reading for all Hold’em Players.
Winning Texas Hold’em by Matt Maroon
Although this book is rather obscure, several posters on the twoplustwo forums have praised its shorthanded chapter. Unfortunately, the book is a little disappointing after reading the material by Yao, Sklanksy, and Malmuth. Maroon has a lot to say about playing before and on the flop, but some of his advice seems flawed-e.g., trying to steal the blinds with 4-5 suited is probably not going to work in a loose, aggressive, low-limit game. Nevertheless, this book may be worth reading, given the scarcity of shorthanded material.
Middle Limit Holdem Poker by Bob Ciaffone and Jim Brier
As the title suggests, this book deals with middle-limit games ($10-$20 through $40-$80). Low-limit players can also profit from reading it. Some players swear by this book. It is definitely worth reading, although Ciaffone and Brier’s advice is a little weak-tight at times. Middle Limit Holdem Poker consists mostly of hands quizzes with Ciaffone and Brier explaining the reasons behind their answers. Even if some of the advice is flawed, readers can learn a lot about how professional players think. Like Hold’em Poker for Advanced Players, Ciaffone and Brier’s book is mostly designed for full games. However, there is a brief chapter on shorthanded Hold’em, beginning with a quick review of shorthanded concepts, followed by eight hand quizzes. The quizzes alone make this chapter worth reading.
Inside the Poker Mind by John Feeny
Feeny is a professional psychologist and, as its title suggests, his book deals with psychological issues related to poker. The book contains a brief chapter entitled “Short-Handed Play: Don’t Miss Out.” Among other things, this chapter stresses the importance of how your opponents’ perceive you and how their own strategies change when the game becomes shorthanded. There are also chapters on how to handle maniacs, players you will often encounter in shorthanded games. Most importantly, the book deals with emotion at the poker table. This section is especially useful for players who are prone to going on tilt, which is much more likely to happen in shorthanded games due to the large fluctuations you may experience. This is a useful book for all poker players, even those who do not play shorthanded.
No amount of reading can substitute for experience at the tables. However, anyone who studies these works-in addition to relevant articles on such websites as twoplustwo forums and cardplayer.com-will have a significant edge over the competition. Good luck!
Update: Two Plus Two Publishing have announced that they will soon release a book entitled Winning High Stakes and Short Handed Hold ’em: Expert Limit Hold ’em for Serious Cash Game & Internet Players by Ray Zee and David Fromm. Expect to see this book in the fall of 2006. As with all Two Plus Two books, this work should be of the highest quality.