PokerStars Readies Short Deck Poker, Probably

PokerStars Readies Short Deck Poker, Probably

The game developers at PokerStars have been busy. The year has been filled with short-term releases of numerous new online poker variations, most of which were only briefly available to PokerStars players.

As of last week, reports began to emerge that PokerStars was preparing to launch Six Plus Hold’em, otherwise known as Short Deck Poker The new variant will play with only 36 cards instead of the traditional 52-card deck and seems to have been popular with high-stakes poker players in Macau since 2015, with Phil Ivey and Tom Dwan professing their love of the game.

The plethora of new games from PokerStars has become a bit confusing, however. The operator introduced and then removed games like Split Hold’em and Showtime this year so far. There were reports of a game called Fusion to be rolled out, and there are new rumors about that one, but it was a variant called Unfold that recently launched.

As of today, it seems that Six Plus Hold’em is ready to roll, as is Fusion. Since PokerStars has no rule pages for these games on its website yet and hasn’t made any announcements, the status of both games is unclear, though Pokerfuse’s reporting has been reliable in that they seem to have a connection to the online poker operator for inside information.

Six Plus Hold’em

This game is commonly known as Short Deck Poker due to the limit of 36 cards, as the twos, threes, fours, and fives are removed from the standard deck.

Six Plus Hold’em has a few unique rules. The ace can represent a five or an ace, meaning it can serve as the completion of a straight with a 6-7-8-9 hand as well as a 10-J-Q-K-A. Flushes become more difficult to hit due to the fewer number of cards for each suit in the deck, and straights are easier to hit.

When Six Plus Hold’em is played in some parts of Asia, blind locations can vary, as can antes and straddles, though those will not likely be a part of the initial PokerStars rollout. There is also a chance that the flush would beat a full house due to different odds with the decreased number of cards.

And according to Pokerfuse, there are graphic files featuring the Asian Gaming logo, which could indicate a partnership with PokerStars to offer the new game.


This game variation was originally thought to be released in May, but it may have been postponed because Pokerfuse is again reporting that signs have appeared in the dot-net client that it may be back on the agenda.

Fusion is reportedly a mix of Hold’em and Omaha, a game that some players know as Irish Hold’em and has been around in the industry for more than a decade. The 52-card deck is used, as is a five-card community board, and though each player receives four hold cards as in Omaha, they are forced to discard two of them after the flop.

Rumors and Speculation

The rollout of Six Plus Hold’em and/or Fusion could happen in any market at any time, though there could be no rollout at all. Without any press releases or blog posts from PokerStars, it is difficult to discern the plans or the purpose of putting photos in the media section of the website where – perhaps – members of the media with access could – perhaps – access them.

The long-term goals of the launches and removals of new games this year is also unclear. It seems that poker fans will know when PokerStars tells them.

About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

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