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  • Playing Suited Connectors in No Limit Holdem

    suited connectorsWhen you are playing Holdem Mixed or 8 Game Poker at Pokerstars or 7-Game Poker at Full Tilt you will be playing no limit Texas Holdem. People tend to think that Texas Holdem is everyone's "best game" in a mixed poker game but the truth is that is not always the case. My point is that the no limit Holdem rotation can be one of your most profitable if you know a good strategy. Catching suited connectors happens often enough so knowing how to play them is essential. Suited connectors are the most underrated starting hand type in Texas Holdem. Most players avoid them, simply because they don’t have the necessary skill to play them properly. This is fine by me- I’ll take the profit they’re giving up. As a matter of fact, I’ll cut into their own profit by using suited connectors against them.

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    ‘How?’ you might ask. Good question. Why are suited connectors so valuable?

    Suited connectors are valuable for a few reasons. First, they have the potential to flop huge hands. When you play a suited connector, you’re aiming to flop a straight or a flush, or a draw of either type. Huge hand = huge profit. Pretty simple.

    Second, when you do flop a huge hand with a suited connector, it will be well disguised. As I’ll go on to explain, you want to be playing suited connectors mainly in raised pots, in position, and against tight players. When a tight player raises preflop, he’ll have a decent hand 90% of the time. He’ll also be very reluctant to give up on that hand, even when he doesn’t hit. A tight player will also assume that if a player calls his raise, then that player must have a decent hand too. Because of this line of thinking, tight players often talk themselves into a state of denial on low boards, or boards that miss broadway hands.

    Third, when you show down suited connector hands, the effect on your image is always positive. Most players can’t fathom playing raised pots with suited connectors, at least at micro/small stakes, and will assign a label of ‘crazy’ to any player who does so. In reality, playing suited connectors well is simply a sign of a skilled grinder. However, most players don’t see it that way.

    Playing speculative hands like suited connectors will cause players to see you as a bit loopy, and as such, a lot of them will pay you off with weaker holdings in the future. I call this the ‘he doesn’t have it’ syndrome. When players see you showing down hands they don’t deem to be strong (in the preflop sense), they assume that you always play crappy cards. You never have it in the end, through their eyes.

    How should suited connectors be played?

    1. In position, almost always. An exception to this rule is in very passive games, where you can see flops very cheaply. Otherwise, having position is a prerequisite to playing suited connectors. You need as much information about your opponent’s hand as you can possibly get when playing speculative cards, and position will help you gain that information.

    2. Against tight players. The logic here is simple. Against tight players, you have a pretty good idea of what cards they will be playing preflop. When a tight player raises from UTG or in MP, you can be reasonably sure that their range looks something like 44+, AQo+, AJs+, QJs+ and QKo. All of these hands can be absolutely crushed by a suited connector that hits. Even when you don’t hit, a tight player will often be predisposed to dumping a hand he doesn’t hit in the face of aggression. You can always bet out if the board texture is acceptable, and you will take down the pot most of the time when you do so.

    3. In raised pots. As I mentioned in point #2, you can usually narrow down a tight player’s range very easily. This is especially true in raised pots. Against passive players who rarely bet, you can narrow down their range with even more accuracy. Logic suggests that if a player has not bet preflop over the course of 100 hands, and all of a sudden he fires, he’s got something good. You want to play suited connectors in those situations, because you can potentially make monster hands that sneak up on a tight opponent’s strong holdings. Remember, a good hand preflop is just that- a good hand preflop. The community cards change everything.

    Raise, or call?

    3-betting or Triple Barreling with suited connectors is generally considered a light 3-bet. You shouldn’t do it all the time, but it can be profitable every now and then. That said, only throw out a 3-bet with suited connectors when you’re pretty sure an opponent is stealing, or that you have some fold equity. Otherwise, call for value. It seems counterintuitive, but that’s how it goes. You want to play suited connectors against the top of your opponent’s range, not chase him off.

    They’ll never know what hit ‘em…

    In sum, you should play suited connectors whenever possible under the following conditions:

    1. You have position.
    2. The pot has been raised.
    3. The raiser is a tight or passive player.

    That’s all you need to know about playing suited connectors. Take advantage of the fact that most players have no clue how to handle them.

    Happy fishing!