PokerStars has been trying to come up with—let’s call them innovative—ways to enhance the user the experience. While some have been intriguing others, such as Unfold, only smack of a desperate attempt to increase the company’s rake. Next in the lineup, however, could be something that actually works, and is received well by players. Rumors have begun to circulate that the poker portal could be working on introducing short-deck poker to its menu.
In the PokerStars’ version, it is called Six Plus Hold’em. The version is played with just 36 cards, instead of the standard 52, and eliminates all cards from 2-5. The Ace is still high or low, meaning you can have a straight of A-9 or 10-A; however, several big chances mean that the game may take some getting used to. In the most common variation, because of the reduction in cards, flushes are harder to achieve. So, a flush is actually higher than a full house. Additionally, three of a kind beats a straight, instead of the other way around.
The version began in China and has increased in popularity. It is more challenging and several high-stakes pros, including Tom Dwan and Phil Ivey, have decided that they like short-deck more than full-deck. It has been seen in Vegas, Montenegro and Manila, with Dwan describing it as “a pretty cool game!”
Another variation that could be coming to the platform is Fusion. It was initially expected to be released this past May but was, for some reason, delayed. However, recent hints, including a new PokerStars Fusion logo, could be an indication that the site is ready to move forward.
Fusion is best described as a mix between the two most popular poker versions, Hold’em and Omaha (also known as Irish Hold’em). It uses a 52-card deck with a five-card community board and each player is dealt four cards, as they would be in Omaha. However, players must discard two cards after the flop is revealed.
PokerStars has been relatively quiet on the subject of both short-deck and Fusion. It’s possible that the site could roll out one, both or none—it’s a crapshoot.