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SNG ABCs: Suited Connectors
In a sit-and-go, suited connectors are not as powerful as they are in, say, a deep-stacked cash game.
But when played right, they can be a very useful tool on your way to victory.
In sit-and-gos, stacks are seldom very deep, so this hurts the overall value of suited connectors.
Most of their value comes from when they make straights or flushes and you can take your opponent's entire stack.
When the stacks aren't as deep, they lose value as the maximum you can win (your opponent's stack) is less. And when the stacks are shallow, you also risk a higher percentage of your stack to win a smaller end pot.
This is why new players lose so much playing suited connectors: they risk too much with too little reward.
Stop Overvaluing Them
Playing suited connectors profitably is actually very easy: just stop overvaluing them.
Straights and flushes don't come around nearly as often as you think they should.
Stop limping from up front, calling raises and then calling bets with weak gutshots.
If you do that, you're essentially frittering away chips.
What you should do instead is look for profitable situations in which you can either a) see a cheap multiway flop or b) steal the blinds with little chance of getting caught.
Most Value Early
Early in the tournament is when suited connectors are the most valuable.
When the blinds are $10/$20 and $15/$30, they are still very small compared to your stack as you'll have 60-80BBs.
This will be the deepest you will be all tournament. And though you should be playing tight early without risking many chips, you should not pass up opportunities where you can see cheap, multiway pots in position.
If you can hit a big hand early and double up, the game becomes a lot easier for you.
When the blinds are low, players will often limp and you will see many multiway pots contested.
In situations like this you can definitely limp hands like 5♥ 6♥ or 7♠ 9♠ off the button or from the cut-off.
If You Miss, Bail Out
If you flop a draw and are getting good odds, great - take them. Try and hit that big hand.
If you miss completely, then just bail out. Muck that hand.
Don't get involved with second pair. It's not worth risking the chips.
Notice I said you can limp from the button or cut-off. It's late position that makes these hands profitable.
Limping in from early position is not cool and is not profitable.
Don't Give Away Free Chips
More often than not you will end up getting raised from late position and you will be forced to muck, forfeiting your chips.
Do not give away free chips.
If you're going to play suited connectors, play them from late position and don't get crazy on flops.
Chase with decent odds and don't unnecessarily risk chips. Your stack is your life in a sit-and-go - protect it.
The mid blind levels - i.e. $25/$50 to $50/$100 - are the trickiest to play. Your stack size is very awkward with only 15-30BBs.
There is little value in suited connectors here.
The stacks are too shallow to limp and try and hit a hand, and raising as a steal risks too big a percentage of your stack with not enough reward.
You should almost never be limping suited connectors at the mid-blind levels.
The only situation that might be marginally profitable is off the button after several other limpers and at $25/$50 only. Otherwise you're better off just folding.
Near the end of the mid-blind levels, the value of suited connectors switches from being able to make a hand and stack someone to using them as steal hands.
While you might be slightly +EV limping the button at $25/$50, you are almost always better off raising or folding at $50/$100 and higher.
That's because the stacks are too shallow to rely on implied odds but the blinds are getting high enough where players (mistakenly) tighten up.
Once the blinds get to $100/$200 there is going to be little play left. You may have 10-20BBs, and the chip leaders may only have 30.
At this stage, you should be able to tell which players are tightening up and which are loosening up.
You should be loosening up, playing a loose-aggressive game and exploiting the players that are tightening up.
This stage of the game is also where you build your stack. If you were card dead up until now it doesn't matter.
Your goal is to increase your stack, and you do this by stealing blinds.
Excellent Blind Stealers
Suited connectors make excellent blind-stealing hands.
As I discussed in the re-steal article, when you're choosing a hand to steal with it doesn't have to be great - that's why it's called a steal.
If you were raising with a real hand it would be for value, not as a steal.
When you're stealing, you're relying on fold equity - that is, you want your opponent to fold.
Thus hand value is not as important.
Suited connectors are great for stealing because they are an excellent "Plan B."
"Plan A" obviously is to have your opponent fold, but that's not always going to happen. You need some hand value to fall back on.
Statistically, if your opponent happens to wake up with AA, suited connectors are the strongest hands possible.
They are also only a slight dog to a hand like A-K or two unpaired overcards.
Push or Fold
As the blinds increase and your M decreases, there will be little to no play left. You're left with two options - push or fold.
With 10BBs or less you should be pushing fairly frequently and picking up the blinds from tight players.
Suited connectors are great at this stage. You rely on fold equity but again you have your hand value to fall back on.
That's all there is to it.
As long as you can recognize when the value switches from being an implied odds hand to a steal hand, you should be able to play suited connectors profitably.
Position is Key
No matter what the blinds are, the most important part is playing position.
From late position you're more likely to see a cheap flop early, and later on you are more likely to succeed with your blind steal.
More sit-and-go strategy articles from Dan Skolovy: