Suited connectors make up a special group of hands in Texas Hold’em poker. These hands belong to the middle range of all possible holdings and have solid playability, but aren’t exactly at the top of the range. This makes them very tricky to play and, as such, many players struggle to find the right approach to suited connectors.
To play these hands correctly, you need to take into consideration a number of different factors. A hand like 6s7s or 8h9h isn’t particularly valuable on its own. Its strength comes from the hidden potential, called implied odds, waiting to be realized. So, in that light, here are a few key tips for how to play your suited connectors correctly.
1. Avoid playing big pots against short stacks
While these hands certainly look appealing to play and may seem like the “nuts” before the flop to less experienced players, the truth is that suited connectors can cost you a lot of money if you assign too much value to them. These hands require you to hit the flop hard or at least hard enough to have some maneuvering space or bluff your opponent out.
This can be very difficult if you’re getting involved with short-stacked players, playing with a stack of fewer than 50BB. Usually, 3-betting short stacks or calling their 3-bets will get you in difficult spots where you hit the board just enough to continue but often not enough to put your stack in, and you may lack other options.
Additionally, since they don’t have many chips behind, you won’t be able to win really big pots when you do end up making those huge hands. Thus, tangling with short stacks with suited connectors is likely to be a losing proposition unless you are much better player capable of seriously outplaying your opponents.
2. Suited connectors don’t make great 4-betting hands
It may be tempting to take some of your suited connectors and turn them into 4-bet bluffs but these hands simply aren’t your best option for this. There are several reasons:
- You aren’t holding any blockers
- You are actually blocking some 3-bet bluffs
- Suited connectors play very well on the flop
So, first of all, suited connectors never contain any cards that your opponents could have in their 3-bet value range, such as Aces or Kings. This means that you aren’t reducing the possibility of your opponent holding a big hand at all, which is something you definitely want to do when going for a 4-bet bluff.
Secondly, some of your hands could be blocking actual bluffs, e.g., hands like A-5 or A-6 suited, which you want your opponent to have. When you combine these two reasons together, it becomes clear that there is very little reason to take your suited connector-type hands and turn them into bluffs.
Finally, these hands have very good post-flop playability, so you don’t want to shut yourself out of the hand by giving your opponent a chance to make another raise and price you out. If stacks are deep enough, calling the 3-bet and trying to realize your equity is usually a much safer route.
3. Be careful in multi-way pots
Your strategy with suited connectors when facing a raise and a call in front of you should rarely be to call, even though it could be tempting. However, you need to be very careful in these spots and consider your options.
First of all, if you aren’t closing the action, it is possible for a player behind to attempt a squeeze play and price you out. You should never just blindly call and hope for the best unless you have information that suggests players still to act in the hand are not likely to squeeze.
Secondly, even if you do get to see the flop, you’ll be in a difficult situation as it will be hard to figure out what other players have. If you hit what seems to be a good hand and then are faced with a lot of aggression, it becomes challenging to make the right decision.
So, as always, try to avoid limping along as much as possible and rather go for an occasional 3-bet yourself and see what transpires. That way you’ll at least be able to define hand ranges of remaining players or even pick up the pot right then and there.