Arts & Entertainment

Daniel Negreanu on Poker: Are Suited Cards Worth the Risk?

In a book I recently read, the author actually said that if he were playing a hand like 6-7 in a No Limit Hold’em game, he’d prefer the hand be offsuit rather than the same suit.

His thinking was that if he made a flush with a 6-7 it would be a small one, and he would risk losing a lot of money if his opponent hit a higher flush.
While that’s true, it isn’t enough of a negative to make unsuited cards more valuable than suited ones. In fact, starting out with suited cards has many more advantages above and beyond the low percentage of time that you’ll actually complete your flush.
Let’s look at an example.

You’re on the button and decide to limp into the pot with 6h-7h. Three other players are still in. The flop comes Jh-8d-4h. You need a five to fill the straight, or you can catch any heart to make a powerful flush.

For the moment, let’s say your 6-7 was offsuit. It would be difficult to call a post-flop bet with only four outs to make a straight. Also, with two hearts on the flop, even if you hit your five — and it’s the 5h — you could lose to a flush. Or, you might lose action if opponents fear that you made the flush.
The biggest advantage about being suited, however, is the extra opportunity it affords you to semi-bluff after the flop. A semi-bluff is when you bet with a drawing hand hoping to steal the pot right away. Even when that doesn’t work, you can still get lucky and make your hand.
Here’s another scenario.

You’re holding Ah-Kh and the flop comes 8h-5h-2d. You have a powerful hand despite the fact that you have no pair. If an opponent with a pair of jacks bets, you can raise him as a strong semi-bluff. Even if he calls, you’re still the favorite to win the pot. You could hit one of nine remaining hearts, three aces, or three kings. That’s a total of 15 outs with the turn and river cards still to come.
Let’s get back to that author who feared losing big pots with small, suited connectors. Yes, that’s definitely something one should be concerned with, but here are three ways to minimize the damage when these situations arise.

  • Proceed cautiously if all you have is a small flush draw with no pair or straight draw to go with it.
  • Don’t get involved in a big pot. Hitting your flush doesn’t mean that you have to make a big bet.
  • You don’t have to bet at all if you’re worried about an opponent having a bigger flush. Simply check on the river, and look to call his bet, provided it’s not too large. If he bets big, and you suspect that you’re beat, throw away your small flush.

To become a great poker player, you’ll sometimes have to let go of strong hands. Sure, you’ll occasionally be bluffed out of the pot, but if you never get bluffed at the poker table then you truly aren’t playing all that well.
So, is it better to be suited?

Most definitely. It shouldn’t be the deciding factor for playing a hand like A-K, but it certainly should be a consideration when holding hands that are more marginal.



Visit for information about Daniel Negreanu’s new book, Hold’em Wisdom for All Players.


© 2007 Card Shark Media. All rights reserved.