6 Max Games vs Full Ring Games

written by: John Comments: View Comments

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There are several options for players when choosing what poker variations to play online. Players can choose from various games such as Hold'em, Omaha, Stud, Razz or mixed games with all of these games being offered in a cash game, tournament or sit n go format with stakes ranging from $.01/$.02 up to $5k or more.

Even though there are many options here, the choice is actually pretty clear for most players. They obviously have a bankroll of some kind so they can only play so high in stakes and most, if not all of us, tend to have a favorite game that we lean towards.

But what doesn't seem to be so clear for players is what size table to play. Meaning, do you sign up for full ring tables or do you head towards the increasingly popular 6-max tables? Each has its pros and cons and even though the difference is only 3 fewer players, the strategy is actually quite different.

So to try to help some of you make up your minds on which variation to play, we have shed some light on the pros and cons of each below.  

Which to Choose: 6-Max or Full Ring?

So the obvious key difference between 6-max and full ring is the fact that 6-max will have 33% fewer players than a full ring game. Let's look at the factors that having more or less players affects.


With fewer players at the table in a 6-max game, the blinds are going to come around much quicker than they would in a full ring game. This of course generates lots of action since no one wants the blinds chipping away at their stack. This will be especially true in a tournament or sit n go setting since avoiding busting out is so important.

Also, the blinds coming around more often makes it a bit difficult at first new players to get the hang of playing since they cannot sit back in watch. In a full ring game, there is more breathing room in between being forced to act so players can watch and learn at a more comfortable pace.

Starting Hands

Starting hand selection will probably be noticeably the biggest difference that players have to make. Again, since the blinds come around much more often in a 6-max game as opposed to a full ring game players just simply cannot wait for the premium hands such as A-A, K-K and A-K. Players will have to widen their range considerably in a 6-max but what is great about that is the fact that hands become more valuable so it makes them ok to play.

Now of course, starting hand requirements will be different between cash games and sit n go's regardless if it is a 6-max or full ring, but the overall point is that players will be able to open pots much wider and should be able to call raises with a wider range of hands.

From personal experience in sit n go's, the starting hand range will not change that much and players will only need to add a few hands to their range. Other players however, will be over adjusting or using 6-max as an excuse to play trash like A-2 or J-8. This can make plenty of the lower games much softer to play if you can target these players.


In a full ring game, the variance that a player faces should be much lower since a player's game should be much tighter. 6-max players will see much swingier sessions since hands will be dominated more often, there is more marginal situations and just the simple fact that more hands are being played in a given amount of time. Players will want to be sure to have their 'tilt' in check when playing 6-max.

Game Play

The game play will of course be different between the two. In specific, in a full ring game a player may choose to limp with a small pocket pair after a few others to see a multi way pot in hopes to set mine. In most cases, there will be the odds to do so after 3 to 4 limpers and if not, implied odds will surely make up the difference. In a 6-max game, if there are limpers in front of you pre-flop, there more than likely will not be enough players for you to have close to correct odds. Again, implied odds can make up the difference here but a player's opponents will definitely have to be deeper stacked for it to be worth it. The other difference with small or medium pocket pairs is that these can be raised in a 6-max game and actually be a strong hand whereas in a full ring game small or medium pocket pairs hold up less often.

Another important aspect is that players will be much more aggressive at a 6-max table. There will be more 3 and 4-betting pre-flop as well as more continuation betting on the flop.

Lastly, it is a good idea for players to get comfortable with their post-flop play because they will be playing post-flop more often in a 6-max then a full ring. So it is important to learn how to read board texture and how to put opponents on hands.

6-Max or Full Ring?

So, which do you pick, 6-max or full ring? Well, that will really depend on each individual player. In my experience, a new player cannot go wrong at a full ring game simply because the learning curve will not be as steep. They will have more time to focus on starting hand requirements, how to bet and learn the importance of position. This is key information for any player to have and will be easier in a less aggressive setting.