6-max vs Full Ring Cash Games

Deciding whether to play 6-max or full ring cash games is something every cash game poker player will have to make early on and it’s not a decision that should be taken lightly, since the way that both games play differ greatly.

Each format of the game has its pros and cons, we are going to look at each of them in more depth in the following article, so you can weight up for yourself, which game you would prefer to play, based on how you think your playing style will match up against opponents in that particular game.

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Full ring is essentially a standard poker game where there are 9-10 players at a full table, any anything less than that would be considered a short handed.game.

6-max is an exciting version of the game where there are 6 players at a full table, hence the name it has. Shorthanded 6-max games are very popular online, much more so than full ring tables, for the simple reason that it attracts a lot of action junkies that like to play more hands and get involved in bigger pots.

On the flop side, if you venture to a land-based casino or live card room to play a cash game, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a full ring game spread, hence the importance of gaining full ring experience online, so the adjustments when playing live aren’t as drastic. The differences between online and live play will take some getting used to, but its nothing a competent player will have trouble with.

When comparing the fundamental differences between 6-max and full ring games it’s probably best explaining the key differences in 6-max online games.

Relative Hand Strength

First and foremost, with fewer players at the table, hand strength at the table goes up considerably, since you don’t need the nuts to win, just a better hand than everyone else, if the hand actually goes to a showdown, which actually doesn’t happen very often in the more aggressive online 6-max games.

The Blinds

With fewer players at the table, it also means the blinds are going to come around at a much quicker rate. So just like in tournament poker, blind stealing is an important concept to understand, as you will be routinely donating blinds every orbit.

Players at 6-max can’t be waiting around and only playing super premium hands like AA/KK/QQ/JJ/AK/AQ these top hands don’t come around very often, and if you’re only playing the top hands your stack will get eaten up by the blinds. Your opponent’s will also catch onto the fact that you’re a nit that only plays premium hands, so they will steal your blinds relentlessly, and won’t pay you off when you make a big hand, since your big bets and raises will mean you have it every time.


Whether you’re playing 6-max or full ring games, position is going to be incredibly important. Positionally aware players at a full ring table will be raising with a fairly high frequency in late positions, although this is even more evident in 6-max games.

How aggressive you should be will largely depend on the table you’re playing at. You should be looking to take what you can get at each table, meaning if the players in the blinds are very tight and not defending their blinds, then you can opening up much wider in late position.

On the other hand, if you have more aggressive players in the blinds that are playing back at you, then open less in late position and look to defend against their 3bets more, as you will have position on them post flop.


With variance being higher in 6-max games, for the simple reason that you’re playing a wider range of hands, and playing more hands per hour, this means you’re going to need a bigger bankroll to support the inevitable swings that a game like 6-max will be subject to. You definitely do not want to compensate for this by playing a tighter nitty style in 6-max games. If that’s how you want to play, then just stick to full ring games.

If you’re still undecided about whether you should play 6-max or full ring cash games, the great thing about playing poker online is that you can begin by playing at the micro stakes, with table stakes as little as $0.01/$0.02 at most online poker sites. So regardless of the size of your bankroll, you can try out both cash game poker formats, to see what you’re most comfortable playing.