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Differences Between Full Ring and Shorthanded Games

If you are one of the players making the switch from shorthanded games (6 players max) to full ring games (10 max), you should already be thinking about ways of adapting your current poker strategy to make it more suitable for 10 handed play. The last thing you want to do is sit down at a full ring game and start raising 25% of your pre-flop hands. With that in mind, here are a few key differences between shorthanded and full ring game – these will make your transitional stage go more smoothly.

Full ring games are, generally speaking, much less aggressive than 6-handed games. Players have a long way to go before the blinds reach them and therefore don’t feel pressured enough to make risky plays; they will be inclined to wait until they are dealt a stronger hand before getting involved in a pot. This could make you believe that you should adapt an aggressive playing style yourself in order to exploit them, but that isn’t a good strategy, especially at the lower full ring stakes.

What you want to do is play tight-aggressive poker – wait for your best hands and play them strongly and without any slow-playing once you hit. The reason being that, because there are more players than in a shorthanded game, the possibility of someone being dealt a strong hand is pretty high, which will make your aggressive plays less effective. Just stick to tight-aggressive style, and your Poker Tracker graphs will soon look more beautiful than Melanie Iglesias herself.

If you are wanting to learn more about 6 max cash tables strategy, then the poker book; The Grinder’s Manual may be useful.

Because there are more players to act behind you in a full ring game, you will generally have more time to think through the hand before making a decision. More thinking time = better plays. Most of the time.
You will be seeing a lot less bluffing in full ring games than you are used to from your 6 handed experience.

Even from the dealer and cut-off positions you will find players attempting less steals than what you are used to. Again, this is caused by the nature of a full ring game – more time before the blinds hit anyone and a higher chance of someone actually holding a hand and calling down a bluff / semi-bluff.
Lower variance. And again something that has to do with the lowered aggressiveness of full ring games.

Less crazy plays and less marginal situations equal less variance. This in turn means that you can afford to be less conservative with your bankroll management than you would be in a short handed game, simply because your chances of going broke are lower.

Multi-tabling is a even more important when playing full ring. Because the action is generally slower and you play less hands per hour per table, you can have more of them open simultaneously and still be able to handle them and make thought-out decisions in time. Just be careful not to overdo it – start slowly and then make your way up. Once you find yourself starting to have some trouble, reduce the table count by one, and continue there until you adapt.

Because of the higher number of opponents, it is generally harder to get read on any specific player in a full ring game. In a shorthanded game you will often find yourself playing heads-up against a particular player, allowing you to learn a lot about him; which isn’t the case when playing full ring, as players are folding much more often. This makes the use of poker software such as Hold’em Manager or Poker Tracker even more important in full ring games.

Be careful with your top pairs. You will hear this advice dispensed often to anyone new to full ring games. If you’ve been playing 6-handed games for a long time you might have gotten used to a top pair top kicker kind hand being very strong on most flops. This is not the case in a full ring game, where you will need to play much tighter not just pre-flop, but post-flop as well. Keep in mind that, since there are 9-10 players being dealt hole cards, the chances of someone having your TPTK beat are a lot higher.

There are probably at least a few more differences between full ring and shorthanded games that could be listed, but we’ll end it here. This should already be more than enough to give you an edge, and to keep you busy for at least a few weeks. Just remember: keep your mind open, and question every move you make – just as if you’ve never played poker before.

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