Making the transition from ten handed to six handed tables.
It’s a lot easier to go back to ten handed tables when you have been playing on six handed tables and much more difficult to move from ten handed to six handed.
The easiest way to explain the main differences between the table types is as a limit player.
In a ten handed limit game you are simply looking for premium hands to raise up. Making sure you are not raising out of position and folding hands like AJ under the gun.
You are also looking for situations where you are in late position, three or four players are in the pot and you have A2 suited or 67 suited. In late position you have odds to make the call and try and make your nut straight or flush.
However in a six handed game you usually don’t get odds to come into a pot in late position and the game becomes a high card game. Low cards just don’t cut it.
There are two types of six handed limit game:
A: The game where you have very loose players and maniacs. In these games you have no need to try and defend your blinds with marginal hands because when you do play a pot you always have the maniac dominated and he has to get lucky to win calling off chips as he goes.
This means you win more money by folding more often and taking advantage of the loose play when you have a good hand.
These games are typically played at the lower limits to $3/$6.
B: The game where you have solid or tight players and it becomes more and more important to be able to defend your blinds competently.
Because you are not getting so much action for your great hands you need to be able to stop your blinds disappearing all the time to maintain your stack.
These are typically $5/$10 games and above.
Now of course there are games in between but this is a good generalisation.
What this explains is why a good six handed player has such a higher big bet rate wins per 100 hands than your average ten handed player.
It also explains why a poor six handed player loses their chip stack so quickly!
The six handed player has a much more accurately defined sense of position when the action is folded to him in a ten handed game and raising 10 J with five players behind is a standard raise here for the good player. The ten handed player will typically limp with this hand in this position.
Most of the time this raise will take down the blinds in a ten handed game. Where as the limper will usually have to give the pot up when other limpers come along for the ride.
When someone who has been playing a ten handed ring game for 12 months or so first sits down at a six seated table they usually go through their entire stack in 30 minutes to an hour. It’s very easily done as you have to be a much more accurate player at the six handed table.
Once they have acclimatised to the faster pace, realised that they can’t chase hands, understand raising and considered aggression is the key to taking down pots whilst taking into account that other players may be inclined to play trash then they find that the six handed game gives far bigger profits far more quickly than in a ten handed game.
After playing six handed for six months or so going back to the ten handed tables is like taking candy from a baby. Your sense of position is so well defined and your knowledge that your bottom pair is probably good against the blinds makes you a formidable ten handed player.
You now have the patience to play the ten handed game coupled with the aggression of the six handed game when the action is folded around to you.
So, armed with this knowledge, let’s look at this from the point of view of the No Limit SNG player moving from ten handed to six handed tables.
The first point to consider is that the other players sitting at the table probably don’t have a good sense of position and may not even know what hands they should be raising up with and what they should be folding.
In the early levels I like to fold K 10 from any position. A9 and below gets folded here as well and I’ll fold anything but AK or AA in the face of a raise.
But in a ten handed game I will raise all of these hands from late position.
So what’s the difference?
In a six handed SNG you don’t get to make mistakes. If you do make mistakes they are usually very costly and result in you looking for the next SNG to join.
At the lower limits we are talking about here (up to the $20 SNG) you have to face the fact that players can and will play anything that looks remotely appealing. The six handed SNG is full of action junkies looking for a fix and they usually have no idea what position is, never mind what cards they should be playing.
They will easily bluff raise you off a hand and keep doing it for a laugh which is why you always need a hand to play with.
As we have said before these players can come from any walk of poker life, cash game players, tournament players, limit players all looking to see if they can take down an SNG.
The ten handed SNG has a different type of player altogether, usually it’s a reasonable limit player or a weak No limit player that frequents the ten handed SNG tables. With some good SNG players thrown in for good measure.
In late position you can raise the aforementioned hands to take down the blinds because players will more readily believe you on this table. On a six handed SNG table you will find most of the players to be absolute non believers even when the flush is staring them in the face.
Now, you’ve probably heard people talk about “moving up limits” to escape the bad beats that they keep being on the receiving end of? In the SNG I’m afraid at the six player tables it’s an even worse situation.
Unless you are prepared to accept that bad beats will rain down on you then you should stick to the ten player table.
In a ten player SNG you have many more “family pots” where three or four players will see the flop. If you miss you can easily fold and it won’t do huge damage to your stack. With so many players on the table people get scared about raising too much and so you tend to get to play pots in relation to the blind level.
In six handed it’s much more likely that the pot will be raised up sufficiently that if you call with nothing hoping to get lucky and miss, you’ll be set all in and lose your chips.
In a six handed game you have to play tighter than you would play on a ten handed table. So if you think you are a tight player on a ten handed table then consider that you need to play even tighter on a six handed table to get some idea of what I am talking about.
On a Ten handed table you are playing against mostly people who have a clue about what they are doing. Even if they are beginners then they probably took some time to read a book or two before donking off their chips.
In six handed this just isn’t the case and most players will constantly bluff with nothing. So when they run into a player who only plays with a real hand then they lose their chips.
And that’s the secret to beating the six handed game. Play tighter than you ever thought you could play and bet the hell out of your hand when you have something.
In ten handed you need to be a more conservative with your betting as it’s possible Dastardly is holding something better than you. But in six handed it’s usual that when you finally get your hand you have donkey face beaten all ends up.
So let’s make a summary of what we have covered here:
In a ten handed SNG you can raise slightly weaker hands in later position to take the blinds in the earlier levels. In six handed you just don’t play these hands full stop as you are more likely to get bluffed off it.
In ten handed you play tight, but if you thought that was tight then it’s nothing compared to how tight you play in the six handed game.
In six handed you bet much bigger with your hand to extract maximum value. It’s quite common to move all in with AK when you have made an Ace or King on the flop simply because you know the other player will call with his middle pair. It’s rare that someone will hold a better hand than you and just unlucky when they make a set. Don’t try this at higher limits though.
In ten handed you have to bet more conservatively and not be so willing to move all in. There is much more of a chance that Dastardly holds something in the ten handed game.