We are pleased to present you with another one of our poker strategies and tutorials blog pieces.
Players who are just starting out in poker prefer and also feel comfortable in playing hands where they can see that they are in a strong position. Sticking mainly to premium hands such as pocket pairs or suited Aces or sometimes even suited or off suit royal card combinations. This generally gives you a better chance to win at showdown and also helps you to reduce the chances of being put into situations where you have to make difficult decisions, something which you cannot possibly eliminate in its entirety.
But sooner rather than later, you’ll start to realise that you cannot limit yourself to playing only premium hands. Firstly, these hands don’t come around too often, for example, if you’re playing in a tournament and you keep waiting for premium hands, the blinds and antes will put you at risk of being blinded out. Additionally, playing only premium hands tells everyone else on the table that you are only playing strong hands and when you do get a monster, all of them will be quick to fold to your raise giving you no value.
Suited connectors are two cards of the same suit that are consecutive in rank, such as 9♣️10♣️ or 4♠️5♠️. Adding such hands into the type of hands you’re willing to play can have numerous benefits to your game!
Considering Stack Sizes and Position
Suited connectors are best played, like most hands, when you are the last to act or ‘in position’ postflop. Opening from late position (cut-off or button) with suited connectors will help you steal blinds or play in position against callers in the blinds. Such a move will also help keep your opponents guessing. Your hand will be disguised. For example, you open-raise with 6♠️7♠️ in the cut-off, get called by the blinds and the flop comes,8♥️9♦️5♠️, your opponents will think you raised with a strong hand and you’ve missed when in fact you have made the stone cold nuts.
You might also want to call raises from late position or call out of position in the blinds. The advantage of playing suited connectors is that if you flop a monster, straight or a flush, you can get maximum value from hands such as big overpairs like Kings, Queens or Aces.
We advise you not to consider suited connectors anything other than drawing hands. You will need to improve on the flop if you want to feel good about your hand. In most cases what you’re drawing is going to be a straight or a flush. You might make two pairs or even trips in some instances but you’re not going to be hoping for that. If you flop a straight draw, it becomes more valuable when ‘in position’ because you can now either check the flop or just call the bet giving you the chance to have pot control or decide for yourself how much you want to commit.
You must always consider your stack size before thinking about playing suited connectors. You are hoping to win big pots while playing suited connectors and it doesn’t make sense to commit chips or calling a raise when you don’t have the stack to continue beyond the flop. This is very important especially in tournaments where if you have a small stack, you shouldn’t get out of line and call with medium suited connectors like 78 or 89 suited, i.e, if you have enough to wait for a bigger hand.
Similarly, it’s not a good strategy to call raises with suited connectors if doing so eats too much into your stack. The idea most of the time with suited connectors is going to be to try to see a flop cheaply in order to win big — low risk, high reward.
Playing Suited Connectors Postflop
First things first, if you have reached the flop with medium suited connectors, it’s alright to let go of your hand if you miss the flop and your opponent bets again. Even if you’re the preflop aggressor, it’s okay to muck the hand. Although if you have a good read on your opponent then by all means go ahead and try to bluff the pot but be mindful and do not get committed to a flop you have missed and call hoping to pick up backdoor outs. You will always find yourself in much better spots than that.
Sometimes you’ll flop a pair and you get additional outs as you turn a straight/flush draw. In such cases you could think about taking a stab at the pot. This is called semi-bluffing. Even if your bet is called, you could still improve and win the pot!
Imagine that you are in a hand with 8♥️7♥️. Someone raises from Under The Gun(UTG), you call and the big blind comes in as well. The flop comes 9♥️6♠️A♣️ and the action is checked around to you. You can do two things here– you can check back for a free card on the turn or you can bet the flop and semi-bluff, making the other players fold. Even if they call you bet, they might check back to you again hoping you to bet out again.
Take a second and think about what happens if you hit your 10 and win the pot at showdown. This will impact your image at the table significantly. First, they will see that you called the preflop bet with 8♥️7♥️ and second, that you bet the flop with just a gutshot straight draw. The fact that you made such a play will get you more action when you make the same moves with stronger hands because they won’t be able to get a read on your betting range.
Wider Betting Range = More Open Minded Approach
It doesn’t matter whether you’re playing live or play poker online, playing suited connectors instead of just premium hands will help your reputation at the table. Your opponents will no longer treat you like a tight player who only puts chips into the middle when you have a monster. Also, adding suited connectors to your game will also help you to open up more to the different aspects of the game such as ‘ranges’ or ‘bet sizing’.
Playing only premium hands is definitely not a bad poker strategy, considering the fact that on some loose tables with less skilled players, you will get the best of your hands. Incorporating such hands into your game will enable you to make less straightforward plays by letting you make semi-bluffs, check raises and bluffs.
Playing suited connectors will enable you to do just that — to make some plays (like semi-bluffs) that go beyond basic bet-when-you-have-it, fold-when-you-don’t poker. It will also get you involved more often and expose you to different situations and postflop problems, giving you more valuable experience as you further improve your game.