Back to Basics – 6-Max vs 9-Max

5 months ago - written by Toby Wainwright
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Most players new to the great game of No-Limit Hold’em tend to try their hand at tournament poker before anything else. Open up partypoker and you’ll see hundreds of tournaments every day in all kinds of formats. PKO, Bounty Hunters, 6-Max, 8-Max, even three or four-handed tournaments are growing in popularity now. Today, let’s concentrate on 6-Max tournaments and look at how they might differ from the conventional eight or nine-handed tournaments that a poker novice is used to playing. (hereafter referred to as ‘FR’ because they have a 'Full Ring' of players)


There Are Only Six Players per Table


                                                   The seat positions at a 6-Max table


The first difference is obviously that there are only five other players at your table. Apart from giving you a bit more elbow room at a live table at your favourite casino, this affects play a bit more than you might think. You’ll see there is no UTG+1 or +2, MP2 (middle position), 'lojack' or 'hijack' position.


Opening Range


Quick Tip - Just to get us on the same page, we always refer to our hands in terms of ‘ranges’. So, your ‘opening range’ is simply the selection of hands that you would choose to raise pre-flop, when opening the action.


A common misconception in 6-Max poker is that you can play more hands. There are two key reasons for keeping your opening ranges just about as tight as you would in a normal full ring game:


  • You lower the risk of being raised off hands pre-flop.
  • When you raise and are called, you will always have a stronger range than your opponent.


This is obviously very important as you don’t want to go to war on a flop where you have a disadvantage, do you? Luckily, as it’s a common misconception that you can play more hands, you will often find your opponents doing just that and you can take them all to value town!



 An example of your opening range when starting UTG in a 6-Max game



Above you’ll see an example range of hands you could open from UTG (first to act). It’s not set in stone, but it should give you an idea of the kinds of hands you’ll be playing. That equates to roughly 10% of hands. Of course, if you are at a very passive table then you can open a few more hands, and at aggressive tables perhaps go even tighter.




One benefit of 6-Max is that you will more often be playing in position. Of course, if you raise from middle position or the hijack in a full ring game, there is still a decent chance that the cutoff and button can get involved. This is less likely in 6-Max, simply because you have less players to get involved on the action! As always, playing in position will yield you the best results as you always have more information than your opponents to act on down every street. You’ll also be raising all the hands you want to play:


  • Limping reduces the chances of you having to play out of position.
  • Raising gives you information from your opponents! Players can limp any two cards but will not call a raise with any two.




Playing in position ties in nicely with aggression. You’ve tightened your ranges and will be trying to play in position as much as possible, which will allow you to apply optimal pressure to your opponents with both bluffs and value betting. You should also look to re-raise players pre-flop, especially when in position as this is also gives you the benefit of the betting lead and caps your opponent’s range of hands. If they had a big Ace high or any of the premium pairs they’d most likely re-raise you again so once they call you’re on the front foot!


Hop on to partypoker and you’ll find bucket loads of 6-Max variant tournaments for you to try your luck in and get practising! There’s also a £4,000 GTD 6-Max tournament at Dusk Till Dawn every week which is another great opportunity to brush up your live skills and take home some cash!



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  • nataliya semenenko
  • Paul Seaton

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