Playing shorthanded at a Texas Holdem table refers to a game with less than the full amount of players at the table. In reality though, shorthanded tables are really tables with 6 or less players. Playing Texas Holdem shorthanded is a bit different than playing at a full table and you need to adjust your game accordingly.
When you play Texas Holdem at shorthanded tables some of your normal tactics need to be thrown out the window. You can’t just sit back and wait for big hands and fold everything else. The blinds come around too fast and you will lose money. When playing shorthanded you have to open up your game more, take more chances, and play a looser style than you did when at a full table. Some people believe when playing shorthanded that playing your opponent is more important than playing your cards and that may be true. The better your skill at poker, the more likely it is to show up shorthanded than it is in a full game.
When playing shorthanded you definitely have to play more hands, but you still don’t want to go off the deep end. If it is table of 6 players you still can throw away some hands, but if it gets down to 3 players or just two, then you have to play nearly everything. When you think about what starting hands to play there are some things to consider. Suited connectors don’t work nearly as well shorthanded as they do at a full table. The reason for this is that you aren’t going against a full table, which means there is not a lot of money in the pot and you immediately go into the hand behind. It gets unprofitable to keep throwing money into a pot without big odds when playing suited connectors shorthanded. You really need a lot of action to play those types of hands and you won’t get it very often with 6 players or less. Some hands that you normally would have thrown away at a full table play much better shorthanded. Those A-10’s, Q-10’s, KJ’s hands are playable shorthanded, while they are throw away hands at a full table.
As with play at a full table, position is important at a shorthanded table, in fact, it is more important. When you are playing your opponent more than playing your cards, position becomes critical. Play tighter in early position and really open things up in late position. Also when you play shorthanded remember that raising works very well. You will very often win the pot without making another bet with an opening raise. You may be able to do the same thing after seeing the flop. Raising drives out weak hands at a shorthanded table.
Remember that shorthanded play is an advantage for the better players. Luck plays less of a factor and tactics like raising, check-raising, and playing your opponent work better with less players at the table. If you are just starting out in poker you might be better off at a full table where the blinds come around slowly. If you are an experienced player, then playing shorthanded might be right up your alley.