Short deck poker is reasserting its status this week in South Korea. Nick Schulman, fresh off his stint behind the WSOP announcers’ table, scored a win in an HK$100,000 short deck ante-only tournament that featured several well-known professionals. It was the first short-deck tournament Schulman had ever played.
Here’s the winning hand:
— Triton Poker (@tritonpoker) July 25, 2018
American Ben Lamb placed fourth in the tournament. Phil Ivey and Tom Dwan also competed in the event, although they both failed to reach the money.
The tournament was part of Triton Poker’s Super High Roller Series. The tour stopped at Jeju Shinhwa World’s Landing Casino on Jeju Island, South Korea.
Schulman picked up HK$2,135,000 for his first place finish. In US dollars, the prize is equivalent to $272,084.
Short deck sweeping across Asia
The fact that such big names were involved in this tournament highlights how popular short deck is. The game originated in 2014 and started appearing on tournament schedules last year due to demand from action-seeking Asian businessmen.
Of the five tournaments in this current Triton series, three of them are short-deck events. This is the second Triton Poker series to feature the variant so prominently.
The first was in Montenegro in May 2018. In that series, Phil Ivey emerged as a winner, which explains his eagerness to jump into this series’s events in South Korea.
Short deck brings out the gamblers
The idea behind short-deck poker is relatively simple. Deuces through fives are removed from the deck and play proceeds as a normal hold’em game.
However, the removal of those cards profoundly changes the mathematics of gameplay. Hand strengths are far more compacted and lead to more playable situations.
As Ivey told paulphaupoker.com last year,
“There’s a lot of gambling involved. The equities run pretty close, so it’s pretty easy to get your money in the middle and be 50/50 or somewhere near that. It suits a more gambling style of player.”
The mathematics behind the game were such that the continuum of winning hands had to change. In short deck, straights are worth more than flushes.
Dwan, one of the variant’s more prominent proponents, now refers to standard hold’em as “long deck.” Several other notable players have begun doing so as well.
The poker game of choice always changes
Short-deck poker may be simply the next in a natural evolution in poker. No game remains the standard game forever.
For much of poker’s early history, the game of choice was five-card draw. The game lasted as the go-to until the 20th century.
Then came seven-card stud. Seven-card stud dominated cardrooms across the land, and until recently, still had a solid foothold on the East Coast.
Hold’em was the next to emerge. The game typically played as a limit contest until Chris Moneymaker helped push people into the no-limit boom.
More recently, and especially in Europe, the game of choice has been Pot-Limit Omaha. PLO continues to enjoy a bit of a renaissance in the United States.
So, perhaps short deck is the next iteration of our great game.