Suited Connectors: Any two cards of sequence that hold the same suit.
A huge (and I mean HUGE in the biggest way) aspect of No Limit Texas hold’em is playing suited connectors. In limit hold’em, betting is secondary to hand selection because one’s stack is not in jeopardy at all times. Things change in the No Limit version, where implied odds (the amount of money you can expect to win if you make your hand) are a large factor in decision making at the tables. Played properly, suited connectors hold great value and the best chance of taking down big hands and, consequently, big pots.
Let’s look at my personal favorite in this category, the 7,8 suited. There’s several ways to play this hand, and one of my favorites is raising in late position with it.
If you’ve played a tight game thus far and an opponent credits you with big cards and it’ll be hard for him to put you on a hand when the flop hits you. Certainly you could get a dream flop of 6,9,10. Obviously this is a great flop for your hand, since you have the nut straight.
It’s hidden strength is that many players will feel that if you raised preflop, you’ve gotten unlucky and missed or they got lucky and hit. Consider the hands an opponent would call your raise with: any pair, AK to A9, KQ to K10 and maybe even Q10. This is a good flop for almost all of these hands for even if they missed, they at least have to overcards and might be willing to chase you a street or two.
On the other hand, if they hit top pair on the flop and you’ve been playing the game aggressively you’re likely to be check-raised on the flop, and bet to on the turn where you can then raise and take down a big pot. Perhaps what attracts me most to these kinds of hands is you almost always know where you stand.
You can lay down top pair with a flop of 7,2,5, if you have to, since your kicker isn’t very good and a multitude of hands will beat you, and if you don’t hit it hard you usually miss completely. The danger comes when you hit a flush and get beat by a higher one. It won’t happen very often at all, but be aware of these scenarios.
Another way to play suited connectors is to attempt to draw many opponents into the pot and win a large pot. You can often accomplish this by limping in early position with a hand like 3,4 suited.
When you limp in, not only does it add to the pot total, but since you did so in early position many opponents will think you have a strong hand and be more likely to just call rather than raise with theirs. The more people call, the more other hands will want a piece of the action since they’ll be getting pair 5 to 1 or better for their money.
You’ll begin to notice limping in early position often draws almost all the players into the pot, unless someone wakes up with a big pair, and your hand is now well disguised. If the flop comes K,A,5 you can easily check fold your way out and fight another day, but every once in a while that flop will come something like 4,4,K and you’ll learn that when a pot grows in value and no one has raised, many people will try to steal it just for the sheer value accumulated. Or, better yet, maybe someone was being cheeky and decided to slowplay his aces, then put all his/her money on the flop and you come out with all their money.
Your advantage in these two scenarios is two-fold. They’ll start to wonder if you play “garbage” hands like 4,5 then what else could you be playing. You’ll start to see a lot more calls when you actually get dealt a big pair. It’s true that you’re usually going to the flop as an underdog, but knowing this and being able to fold and lose small pots in marginal situations and take down big pots when you hit hard, you’ll make a profit in the long run.
This doesn’t mean you should play every time your dealt a suited connector, you have to pick your spots and understand your opponents at the table. But if you’re looking to mix up your poker game, understanding the value of these “rag” hands are a great way to start.