Playing suited connectors from time to time makes you less predictable. When played sensibly, cards like 6h-7h have the potential to make very strong hands — straights, flushes, and even full houses — that could result in a handsome payday. If, however, you play these hands poorly after the flop, you risk losing your whole stack.
You shouldn’t play suited connectors merely for the sake of playing them; you have to have a plan. Here are some guidelines that will help you take down some pots and avoid catastrophes.
Understand Your Goal
With a hand like 8c-9c, you’re hoping to hit a straight or a flush. Since your flush could be in bad shape against a higher flush, ideally you’d like to flop a straight, two pair, trips, or even a full house. Also, you should avoid overvaluing any hand when you simply flop one pair, even if it’s the highest pair on the board.
Say the flop comes 9s-6d-4h. You’d have a decent hand, but not strong enough to play against any significant action. If you bet this flop and an opponent raises, consider folding immediately. There are few hands that you can beat, unless your opponent is bluffing.
If you suspect a bluff and decide to continue to the river, your goal should shift to manipulate the size of the pot. Keep it small. Trust me; you don’t want to play a huge pot with just top pair and a weak kicker.
Don’t Bet Yourself Out of a Hand
The traditional method of playing a flush draw on the flop is to bet it as a semi-bluff. Instead, consider checking the flop in hopes of getting a free card to complete your hand.
If you make the flush, and it’s checked around to you, opponents may be less inclined to believe you made a hand, thus garnering you more action.
Betting a flush or straight draw in early position is less risky than doing so in late position. While you should be aggressive in late position, betting draws after the flop can actually cost you a bet if your hand doesn’t improve. Even worse, someone could check-raise you an amount so large that you’ll be forced to fold your good drawing hand.
Let’s say there are five players in the pot and you’re last to act. You hold a suited connector gap hand of Jc-9c and the flop comes Qc-8s-2c, giving you a flush draw and an inside straight draw. Everyone checks to you. Making a bet here isn’t a bad idea.
What happens, though, if you bet the flop and the small blind check-raises you all-in?
He may have a hand like Q-8. You’re way behind, and your earlier bet cost you a free opportunity to hit your draw.
I’m not saying that you can’t ever bet your draws on the flop. Just be aware of the situation. Then use your reading skills to figure out if one of your opponents has a strong hand.
Bluff at Missed Flops
If you’re playing suited connectors solely on their payoff potential, then you’re likely going to lose money. Betting only when you have a strong hand, or always checking when you miss, allows opponents to get an easy read on your playing style.
Say you raise before the flop with a hand like 4c-6c. The flop comes Ad-7s-2h. Take a stab at the pot with a bet, especially when you’re in position. Unless an opponent has an ace himself, he’ll likely fold, fearing that your pre-flop raise represented an ace in the hole.
Think of suited connectors in baseball terms. Straights and flushes are home runs when they hit the flop. But when you don’t knock it out of the park, just make it to first base and then try to steal a base or two.
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