NLHE 6-max: Pre-Flop Play

Thanks to full ring NLHE we're used to playing a lot of unraised pots. With speculative hands we often just limp behind other limpers, hoping to see the flop cheaply with our small pair and hit our set. Or we're holding suited aces or connectors and speculate on a very good draw.

But in shorthanded games we now have considerably fewer opponents that can pay us off. On average, there are also considerably fewer players left when it comes to the flop, and multiway pots are exceptions, at least at the higher limits. For all these reasons, our goal is to build up a pot before the flop if possible. We want to put pressure on the few players at the table. We always want to raise the hands that we play in shorthanded games before the flop. The exceptions are situations where we're playing in the blinds and have marginal hands, and possibly those where our opponents have very small stacks.

The pre-flop raise concept

One fundamental principle of 6-max pre-flop play is the following:

  • If we want to play a hand as the first player in the pot we ask ourselves: "Is this hand strong enough to raise in our position?" If we can answer the question with "Yes" then we raise, otherwise we fold.

An extension of the rule is that we do not generally limp along with other players.