True Value: Suited Connectors

phil ivey straight potThe first step with suited connectors is realizing that they have a lot of value if played correctly. The second step, then, is to gauge which suited connectors than others and in which situations. 89 suited is infinitely better than 35 suited, regardless of position. Sometimes, though, 67 suited will be better than 89, but only because it is in later position. Being able to determine the true value of suited connectors is absolutely critical to your success.

You need to be able to tell when the price is too low, when the implied odds just aren’t there, and so on and so forth. A lot of players greatly over estimate the value of their suited connectors. They say, “Oh 5 7 suited, this is a gold mine!” Like all hands in poker, nothing is static, and a suited connector in one spot is not the same as a suited connector in another spot.

There are three primary dynamics that should be given consideration when defining the true strength of a suited connector. Each of these factors will probably seem pretty obvious, but they only work if they are analyzed in conjunction with one another. The three areas to look at are your position, the action in the hand, and your hand’s actual strength. If you can properly assess these three areas of any hand, you should have no trouble turning steady profits with your suited connectors.

Position

The first element of any hand is position, whether you are playing pocket aces of 35 suited. The best position to be in is late position. The value of a suited connector remains somewhat static from early to middle position, but when you jump to late position, the value skyrockets. Suited connectors need to be able to extract value and play hands they want to be played. By playing suited connectors out of position, you are sacrificing your ability to easily extract value and manipulate the action. In the end, position is the single most important factor in determining the value of a suited connector, and it isn’t even close. If you had the option of choosing 46 in position or 89 out of position, you should be taking 46 each and every time.

If you are in early or middle position, the best play with a suited connector is to simply fold. Some players think that limping into the pot is some sort of compromise between folding and raising, but it is nothing more than a major mistake. Even if you happen to hit your hand (generally a big draw), you are going to have a tough time taking down the pot. Beyond this, when you do hit your hand, it is going to be transparent, making it near impossible to extract anything near maximum value. Do not open limp in early position with suited connectors and do not raise, just get rid of the hand and move onto the next one.

Action

The action in the hand is an important factor because it will tell you what your implied odds are looking like. If you are sitting in a pot where you are deep stacked, you will be much more likely to call a 3-bet with 89 suited than if you were sitting with a short stack. While you would generally like to play suited connectors for as minimal of an investment as possible, they are good hands to mix up the action with. In the example above, you called a re-raise with 89 suited. Now, if the flop gives you a big draw, is your opponent likely to put you on this hand? Probably not. They are more likely to think that you have a big pair or nothing at all. When you have the ability to safely play your suited connectors as if they are already a made hand, you will be putting yourself in prime position to take down some monster pots. Deception is the best way to lure your opponents into the pot. If they can’t put you on a big suited hand, they have no reason to fold when you make your straight or flush.

Just as you should be willing to get involved in some raised pots, limped pots should not be a particular attraction. The most profitable pots with suited connectors are spots where you get to play a raised or re-raised pot in position against the rest of the field. Now, with that having been said, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take advantage of opportunities to limp in when you are in late position with suited connectors. Of course, if there has been no action or aggression ahead of you, raising is always the best option. Raising limped pots will give you the chance to take down the pot pre-flop, slim down the competition, or play with a stronger image post-flop. The big pots are going to be won when you land a monster flop, but there is nothing wrong with using some aggression to take down small, uncontested pots both pre-flop and on the flop.

Strength

The strength of your suited connector is going to be obvious. It should go without saying that 56 suited is not nearly as strong as 9T suited. By that same note, however, there are some hands that can put you in particularly tricky spots. Even if you are in position, it is not especially profitable to be getting involved in raised pots with real small suited connectors like 34 suited. This is the type of hand that would be perfect for an open raise/steal attempt in late position, and maybe even a call pre-flop of an open raise, but it is not worth playing in a significant pot. You are basically only going to be chase after straights with this type of hand. Beyond this, you might even hit a straight that is beaten by someone else. 34 is going to be difficult to make a lot of money from when you have a flush. The most likely player to pay you off will have a bigger flush than you. Someone who does not have a flush is just going to step out of the way or attempt to pot control, neither of which is going to make you any money.

Playing small suited connectors can get you into a lot of trouble as soon as the flop is dealt. You might hit a gut shot draw with a flush draw, but what are you going to do if one player bets out and another player raises? You are now stuck with a seemingly valuable hand, but you could also be completely crushed. If you shove all in here, you are going to get called by draws that leave you dead or hands that are already made. Suited connectors need to have the ability to gain some fold equity post-flop, and this is not something that small suited connectors come with.