Playing Suited Connectors in Six-Max No-Limit Hold'em

Jeff Papola
Jeffrey Papola, WSOP Six-Max ruler.

Suited connectors can be your best friend or your worst enemy.

For most professional poker players though, it definitely leans toward the love affair.

It's easy to understand why: suited connectors can make both straights and flushes, which are ultimately the true "big pot" hands.

Sure, big pocket pairs will win you a high number of small pots. But suited connectors will win you the biggest ones.

Suited Connectors Before the Flop

That said, suited connectors are not so strong that every time you're dealt them you should be in the pot.

Suited connectors are still a drawing hand and need to be treated as such.

In other words, you need to look for the right situations.

Because suited connectors can make big-pot hands, they should often be played before the flop.

The problem is that although they make big-pot hands, straights and flushes don't come around nearly as much as we would like.

Phil Hellmuth
Limping and hoping to hit just bleeds money.

So limping and hoping to hit hard just ends up with you bleeding money in the long run.

The proper way to play suited connectors in short-handed games is to play them aggressively. Limping is a no-no.

When you're aggressive with your suited connectors, you give yourself the most ways to win.

You can win the pot immediately, you can take advantage of your initiative on the flop and win with a continuation bet, or you can win by making the best hand by showdown.

Just because aggression is good doesn't mean you should raise them every time however.

You have to be wary of your position. Position, as always, is a major factor when deciding how to play your suited connectors.

Early and Middle Position

Much of the power in suited connectors comes from when they flop a draw, but playing draws out of position tends to be very difficult.

When you're out of position your opponent controls the hand and you're left playing by his rules.

Because of this, most suited connectors are not profitable from early position.

Occasionally, with the right table dynamic, you can raise suited connectors like T 9 or J T from early position to mix up your play and balance your range, but for the most part they should just be folded.

Playing suited connectors from out of position is a difficult thing to do and unless you play extremely well post-flop, it's a break-even proposition at best.

Bejeweled Button
As you get closer to the button, add more suited connectors to the mix.

As you get closer to the button though you can start to add more suited connectors into your mix.

You want to play these hands aggressively, bringing them in for a raise.

You should still throw away the smallest suited connectors, as they still are too weak to show a positive expectation, but from two off the button a hand like 8 7 is fit for a raise.

Late Position

When you're in the cut-off or the button, almost all suited connectors are raiseworthy when folded to.

You will often find yourself winning the pot before the flop without showdown or up against a single, out-of-position opponent.

How Do I Play Post-Flop?

Playing suited connectors post-flop can be tricky for some players, which is why it's not a good idea to limp in with them.

Limping in gives you no initiative. You'll often miss the flop completely or make one small pair with no clue as to where you stand.

When you raise first in, you gain the initiative in the hand and can often take the pot down on the flop with a continuation bet.

Take a look at the board texture.

Is it likely to have helped your opponent? Does it look like it could have helped your hand?

If the answer to either of these is yes then it really doesn't matter what you hold. Fire a continuation bet. You will often win the pot without a fight.

If you flopped a pair or a draw or even a combo draw, you're obviously in an even better position.

Despite the fact that raising pre-flop with suited connectors is becoming more standard, many opponents still are unable to put you on them after a raise.

Erica Schoenberg
If you hold a monster your opponent can't put you on, you stand to make a lot of money.

If you end up making a straight or a flush on a later street your hand is often disguised as your opponent will still figure you for big cards.

If you hold a monster that your opponent cannot put you on, you stand to make a lot of money.

What About Against a Raise?

Although suited connectors can often be raised when you're first into the pot, when you're facing a raise it's seldom profitable to play them.

That's because you will be left without initiative and you leave yourself only one way to win the pot.

The exception is if you find yourself in late position against a weak player's opening raise and you either know you can outplay him after the flop. Or you know that he sucks at folding after the flop and thus will pay you his stack should you hit.

In those few situations you can flat-call from the cut-off or button and play poker from there.

The "Light" Three-Bet and You

Occasionally you may decide to three-bet suited connectors against a raise.

This is not for value, since your opponent almost surely has a better hand than you.

This is what is known as a "light" three-bet - the idea being that your aggressive opponent is opening lots of hands before the flop and you know he is doing it with weak hands.

You can reraise him with your suited connectors because he is often going to fold before the flop, forfeiting the pot to you.

Suited connectors are great for this purpose because they make excellent "Plan B" hands. Plan A, of course, is to win the pot without showdown before the flop.

However, you will get called from time to time, which is where Plan B comes in. Suited connectors can still make big-pot hands after the flop.

With your reraise you're relying on the fold equity of your raise, but you also have the equity of suited connectors which are a strong drawing hand to fall back on.

You Gotta Play Some Pokah

Pocket pairs and suited connectors are very similar in a six-max game.

Joseph Cheong
Poker is a game of situations.

They are both drawing hands that should be played aggressively before the flop.

After the flop you need to put your opponent on a range and analyze the strength of your hand before deciding how to proceed.

A lot of the time you are going to win the pot with little resistance from your opponent; other times you are going to have to make a hand.

Poker is a game of situations, and there is no cookie-cutter way to approach playing after the flop.

You need to take all of the table dynamics into consideration before choosing your line.

Just remember, suited connectors are strong, but much of their value comes from getting folds from your opponents.

Just calling and hoping for a miracle flop is going to leave you penniless and depressed.

So use your brain: raise when you are first in, in position, and play poker after the flop. The rest is easy!

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Jamie 2014-03-03 16:45:20

nice article.

Harrington even said that he opens up from UTG with Suited connectors, having good post flop skills is very important to play these correctly. For instance say you raise with 910s from UTG get called by the BTN a loose aggro player , flop comes 9 A 3 , you make a c.-bet and villian raises, what u gunna do? some players will get carried away here and risk alot of their stack with just a pair.

raising with these hands from LP is much better to steal blinds espically if the players on the blinds are weak/tight . IF called make a standard cbet and take it down , if called, c/f will be best unless you wanna go for a double barrel maybe on a scared card or if you feel that your opponent likes to float otf with air or marginal hands and folds often enough ott to make this profitable. It's all really opponent dependent.

gl

aaron 2011-11-28 22:13:05

just curious as to how much this strategy for SC's would change in full ring game. Would you limp when people arent raising often? I would assume so since youd be getting the right odds.

Hank 2011-11-01 22:25:27

HAHAHHAHHAHAHAHHAHAAHHAHAHAHAH

T.J. 2010-04-24 21:33:08

For some information on EV of suited connectors and how deep stack you need to be to call raises with:

http://www.darkenedpoker.com/blog/?p=221

Tom 2009-06-03 05:23:00

"Despite the fact that raising pre-flop with suited connectors is becoming more standard, many opponents still are unable to put you on them after a raise.

If you end up making a straight or a flush on a later street your hand is often disguised, as your opponent will still figure you for big cards."

It was mentioned...

urban 2009-05-01 09:10:00

You don't mention the most important reason for 3-betting PP's and SC's preflop. It allows you to represent both Aces on A-x-x boards and your hand is well-concealed on a board of 67T with 89.

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