Is Full Ring Poker for You?

Introduction to Full Ring Poker

Full ring games are cash games or tournaments or that require 9 or 10 players at table. Most tournaments and cash games are full ring. Online poker players tend to prefer shorthanded poker as it rewards aggression more and there is less emphasis on pre-flop hand selection.

Strategic Differences Between Full Ring Poker & 6 Max Poker


Patience is far more important in a full ring game. You can profitably play far more hands in a short-handed game than you can in a full ring poker game.

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Patience is the most important skill requirement for full ring poker. If you can’t wait for the right spots and play too many pots, you will get found out and lose.

Relative Hand Strength

Relative hand strength changes as a game of poker reduces e.g. You can play more hands heads up than in a 6 max game because your hand is more likely to be better than 1 random hand vs 5. This can be extrapolated from 6 max to 9 handed too. If you have Ace Ten UTG in a full ring game, you are likely to fold, but not in a 6 max.

Value Betting

Value betting is arguably more important in a full ring game. This is a contentious point as one must know how to value bet in any game you play. However, bluffing and taking pots away is required more in a short-handed game to beat the rake and blinds. In a full ring game, the blinds come around less often so there is less pressure to attack all the time.


Position, as always is a key consideration, regardless of the format. In a full ring game, open raising lightly out of position is more likely to hurt your profitability than a short-handed game. This is because you are more likely to get called and be out of position whereas shorthanded games there are less people to act behind you. Look at under the gun for instance in a short-handed game, there are only 3 people to act behind you before it reaches the blinds.


Bluffing is less prevalent in a full ring game. With more hands in play, there are more premium hands and stronger hands post flop. This is why it is difficult for wild and looser players to make lots of money in full ring. It is often the nittier players making money in the full ring. They aren’t relying on big bluffs to earn money; their biggest bluff is firing a continuation bet and a turn bet.

What Should You Play?

I think you should select games carefully. Become proficient, profitable and a master at a couple rather than be a small winner or average at plenty. There are other considerations between full ring and 6 max poker too. Are you a risk averse? If so, full ring is less variance. Do you play lots of tables? If so, full ring is probably better for you. Do you need to be involved in lots of hands? If so, 6 max is probably more appropriate for you.

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Narciso Baldo is the Director and Head Coach of Texas Hold'em Questions. He has been playing poker for over 16 years. After spending many years as a professional, he now runs UK poker training site Texas Hold'em Questions. Narciso regularly writes poker articles sharing tips, strategy, news and experience with gambling enthusiasts. Narciso also writes for reputable gambling portal Casino City Times, (bio here). Contact: