Poker is, by far, the most strategic casino game out there. Many exaggerate luck’s impact on poker and downplay how much skill is involved. In reality, luck has such little impact that some people even consider poker a sport. Poker is unlike every other casino game because it is played against real people, not the house. In games like blackjack or roulette, you only play against the dealer. You are entirely dependent on your luck, and there is no way to win without getting a better hand than the dealer in blackjack or guessing the correct number in roulette. In poker, while you can win through being lucky and having a solid hand, folding completely changes things. You are not forced to commit money with a bad hand, and you can win with a bad hand by getting your opponents to fold. That adds an intense psychological element to poker, where you have to guess your opponents’ next moves constantly.
Another reason for poker’s strategic depth is the number of changing elements in every game. No two poker games are the same since factors like position and the board state are always different. That rewards players who don’t just rely on one strategy and can adapt to any situation. A great example of that is knowing how to play many pre-flop hands. You can’t just stick to premium pocket pairs like AA; otherwise, you are limiting your profits and becoming too predictable. This poker guide will teach you how to play a tricky hand type called suited connectors.
What are suited connectors?
Suited connectors are a type of starting hand. As the name implies, they are suited, meaning they both have the same suit and have flush potential. They are also connectors, meaning they have consecutive ranks and have straight potential. Examples of suited connectors include AKs, 45s, 9Ts, JTs, etc. Their straight and flush potential means that suited connectors are the strongest drawing hands, but they have less guaranteed value than pocket pairs. Suited hands with a one-card gap are known as suited gappers, like 97s, QTs, etc.
Be aggressive pre-flop
Many players are not as aggressive as they should be with suited connectors pre-flop. While they have no immediate value, you should still play them aggressively for several reasons. Suited connectors miss the flop more often than not. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play them; you should put yourself in a position where you can win without hitting your draw. Aggressive pre-flop play gives you initiative, meaning you represent the most substantial hand. Other players will want to react to your actions, giving you control of the pot. The initiative also puts you in a great position to semi-bluff with repeated aggression over multiple rounds. Repeated aggression will often get your opponents to fold if they don’t have a made hand, and if they don’t, you have the chance of hitting your draw as a backup.
Take stack sizes into account
One of the most significant factors that affect how you play suited connectors is stack size. Since suited connectors are drawing hands, they rely heavily on implied odds. Implied odds refer to how much money you expect the pot to grow in future rounds. Implied odds are most present with deep stack sizes since there’s a lot of room to maneuver and a lot of room for the pot to grow. With smaller stack sizes, suited connectors are less effective, mainly when used as 3-bets. That is because the value of suited connectors is in winning a massive pot, and the lack of implied odds with smaller stack sizes makes that impossible. Smaller stack sizes also make it more likely for your opponent to all-in you before you can see the turn or river, reducing the potential value of your draws.
Position is critical with suited connectors
Your position is essential to everything you do in poker. Acting last gives you a significant informational advantage over your opponents, as you can see their actions before making yours. Position lets you play aggressively because you know nobody will act after you. You can value bet extensively, bluff with aggression on multiple rounds, and much more when you’re in a good position like the button. Reacting to your opponent’s actions is vital because you can shape your strategy around them. For example, you are in the button, and two players remain pre-flop: A tight early position player and a loose-passive small blind. The early position player open raises, and you can react accordingly since you act after them. It’s an excellent idea to call here instead of 3-betting for multiple reasons. A tight player open-raising from an early position indicates they have a strong hand, which you don’t want to challenge with suited connectors. The loose-passive player in the blinds will likely call as well, so calling here puts you in a good spot to potentially secure a draw on the flop and win a large pot with multiple players.
Don’t force yourself to play suited connectors
Finally, you must remember that suited connectors are not naturally strong hands. You are far more likely to miss a draw than to hit one, so you must never play under the assumption you will get a draw. Many players fall into the habit of calling too often with suited connectors in an attempt to “see the flop.” Always consider factors like your position and stack sizes when trying to play suited connectors, and do not overplay them.
Where to play poker
We hope this article taught you how to play Texas Holdem with suited connectors. To learn and improve, you should check out sites like GGPoker, the world’s largest poker room. Playing online poker is fantastic because it gives you convenient access to games of all stakes. It is also faster-paced, meaning you get more practice in less time. Finally, it allows you to use poker tracking software, an indispensable tool for analyzing and refining your strategy.