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Short Deck Poker: A New High-Stakes Fad Or Here To Stay?

Phil Ivey’s return to the winner’s circle last week in Montenegro in the Triton Super High Roller Series came in a new form of poker for most viewers. Short Deck poker first entered the vernacular in 2017 when cash games in Macau introduced the format at the behest of businessmen looking for more action.

All 16 cards from deuces through fives are removed, thus creating more playable hands. The Triton series offered two events with the format that were live streamed on Twitch as a global audience soaked in the game, most for the first time.

Aside from the cards, what makes Short Deck different?

The increased activity in Short Deck is based on the amount of playable hands dealt to each player on a per round basis. The math in Short Deck changes the hand rankings which creates a new dynamic for all involved.

As Tom Dwan stated on the Twitch live stream, flushes are worth more than full houses in Short Deck. This is an alteration that Dwan said was inputted only a few months ago.

Similar to Pot-Limit Omaha, hand strengths are closer together in Short Deck than in standard No-Limit Hold’em.

In a release written last year for paulphaupoker.com, Ivey said, “There’s a lot of gambling involved. The equities run pretty close, so it’s pretty easy to get your money in the middle and be 50/50 or somewhere near that. It suits a more gambling style of player.”

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Triton customers prefer Short Deck

The Triton Super High Roller Series included cash games with blinds as high as €2,000/€4,000 and four tournaments. Two of the four tournaments were Short Deck.

Ivey won the HKD$250,000 ($31,848) preliminary event that brought in 61 entrants for $604,992, defeating Daniel Cates heads up.

The second Short Deck event accumulated more entrants than the Triton Main Event. Both tournaments were an HKD$1 million ($127,391) buy-in and there was a discrepancy between the two.

The standard No-Limit Hold’em Main Event drew 63 runners with Super High Roller Bowl entrant Mikita Bodyakovskiy coming out on top. Starting the same day as the conclusion of the Main Event, the Short Deck post-lim amassed 103 players and put a whopping $12.3 million in the prize pool.

Jason Koon started his summer off with a bang, as he took home the $3.6 million first-place prize. Other players to make the final table included a mix of professionals and businessman. Ivey, Winfred Yu, Peter Jetten, Paul Phau, and bracelet winner Dr. Sean Dempsey were among them.

The popularity of Short Deck among high rollers could soon trickle into card rooms across the United States. Big blind ante and shot clocks derived from the highest of buy-ins and it will be interesting to see if Short Deck joins them.

Railbirds clamor for more

Dwan’s familiarity with Short Deck led him to refer to No-Limit Hold’em as “Long Deck.” The #PokerTwitter crew fell in love with the verbiage right away.


Perhaps the Big Bet mix that took ARIA by storm last summer has a new plaque in place for Short Deck? Stay tuned.

ARIA’s Sean McCormack noted that he and his team are working to potentially add Short Deck to their offering of tournaments this summer.


Triton Poker holds the proverbial trademark to Short Deck poker and already have plans to leverage the format in their next series. Coming to Korea starting on July 23 is the next Triton Super High Roller Series. Per Kevin Mathers’ Twitter, Phau noted that the schedule consists of four Short Deck events and two Long Deck.

Pot-Limit Omaha’s growth is at a new peak with casinos across the United States offering the game at the $1/$2 level. Should Short Deck continue to increase in popularity, it may not be too long before it too is the new “it” game for players at all levels.

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