The definition of 6-max in poker is a table with a maximum of six players. Don’t confuse 6-max with 6+, another name for Short Deck poker. This style of poker is wildly popular in online cash games, but also in tournaments. Brick-and-mortar casinos still host 9-max tables, also known as full ring games.

You’ll see more hands every hour at 6-max tables and generally, everyone’s playing looser ranges. Fewer opponents means that you don’t have to be as tight with your opening hands. Some of those suited connectors you usually throw away in a nitty 9-max game are in your 6-max range.

A Triton 6-max cash game

It’s time to cover 6-max rules and strategy. In 5 minutes, you’ll learn the table positions, opening ranges, and several 6-max poker habits for success.

6-max is a more aggressive game compared to 9-max. You’ll see players making more moves than they would in full ring games. There’s more pressure on your stack from the small and big blinds too, so you don’t have the luxury of waiting for superb starting hands. You’ve got to expand all of your ranges slightly, such as opening ranges, 3-bet calling ranges, and continuation bet ranges.

When you play at a 6-max table, the rules of poker games don’t change. Whether it’s Texas Holdem or another variety, the number of players is the only difference between 6-max, 9-max, 10-max, and other sizes. The games do use different terms though.

Table positions of a 6-max game

The 6-max table positions are:

  • Lowjack (LJ) / also known as Under the Gun
  • Hijack (HJ) / also known as Middle Position
  • Cut-Off (CO)
  • Button (BTN)
  • Small Blind (SB)
  • Big Blind (BB)

Larger games like 8-max or 9-max use terms like Under the Gun (UTG) and middle or late position, but 6-max doesn’t.

9-handed games are slower than 6-max, which is partially why the short-handed variety picked up so much popularity. Looking at the player traffic from major rooms, 6-max is the clear favorite.

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Key Differences Between 6-Max and Larger Games

There are strategic differences between 6-max and larger full ring games.

  • Pay the blinds more often. 1 in every 3 positions comes with a mandatory bet, compared to 1 in 4 or more in full ring games. This means, there is far more incentive to steal the blinds.
  • Lowjack (Under the Gun) raises aren’t as strong. When the first player to act makes a raise, a good portion of their range is mid-strength at best. The raiser has to get through three in-position players, then two out-of-position players who are less likely to continue. In a 9-max setup, there are twice as many in-position players to get through after a UTG raise.
  • In fact, all ranges are weaker. Because the blinds move so quickly, nobody’s waiting around for pocket rockets (AA) or cowboys (KK). This means you and your opponents will be calling and raising lighter, which 9-max players have to adjust to.
  • See more hands every hour. Let’s use PokerStars as a definition. The 6-max cash games usually see 80 to 150 hands per hour. 9-max cash games usually get less than 100.
Two varieties of PokerStars 6-max cash games (Zoom and NLHE)

Preflop, opening ranges are wider, though not wildly so. You may be opening 15% in a 9-handed $0.10/$0.25 game on GG, but 6-handed players are usually above 20%. Those hands that didn’t quite make it into your 9-max range need to be in your 6-max range.

3-bet ranges get diluted too. When you 3-bet in a 6-max game, it’s less likely that you are up against a strong hand. This means players can increase the bluffs or semi-bluffs in their range, expecting weaker opponents.

Postflop, your opponents often show up with weaker hands and more speculative ranges. This can make c-bets profitable, especially on the right board texture. Tread carefully in multi-way pots, especially with low-equity hands. Opponents call lighter in 6-max, so a single flop bet may not achieve what you hope.

That being said, double and triple-barreling against skilled opponents has its merits. In 6-max, it’s harder for anyone to have high-strength hands. Continued aggression should have a profitable effect on this weakened range.

Paul Punts gets a very, very lucky flop in a 6-max GGPoker game

Opening Ranges for 6-Max Poker Games

If you’re just starting to play 6-max, your range is about to get upsized.

This is a range chart for a 6-max tournament without antes. It should give you a sense of the ranges for each position. Depending on your position and what you know about your opponents, you should adjust these ranges.

A tournament 6-max guideline

Ranges are never set in stone, so you may find that this chart is too loose or nitty for your game.

The solid color squares are a bit misleading. Not all of these hands are 100% frequency opens; plenty of the weaker combos like 55 and 44 are only going to be opening some of the time.

Ranges in Poker: Think About Hands Like The Pros

High-Traffic 6-Max Poker Sites and Apps

We’ve collected 6-max traffic data and highlighted the busiest spots to play. Beside each stake level, you’ll see one poker site, followed by a mobile poker app.

No-Limit Texas Holdem

  1. NL2 to NL10: PokerStars, PPPoker
  2. NL25 to NL100: RedStar, GGClubs
  3. NL200 and up: GGPoker, PokerBros

Pot-Limit Omaha

  • PLO2 to PLO10: GGPoker, Suprema
  • PLO25 to PLO100: RedStar, PokerBros
  • PLO200 and up: WPN, GClubs

We only check cash game traffic, but tournament players won’t have any trouble hopping into 6-max MTTs. Poker sites have dozens and dozens of daily 6-max tournaments, but mobile apps are focused on cash games.

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