Suited connectors are the type of hand that will usually cost you the least to play with, but will also net you some of the biggest pots of your career. They don't look like much from the outset, especially if you are new to the game of poker, but they are actually incredibly valuable. Think about how deceptive a hand like 6h 9h is when compared to something like AK. With AK, you are going to be 3-betting and playing the hand somewhat face up in many pots, but with 6h 9h, your opponent won't know the difference between a bluff and the nuts if you play your cards right.
This is the beauty in playing suited connectors. If you want to dominate cash games, you'll start playing suited connectors whenever a potentially profitable situation arises. You are definitely going to totally brick the flop more often than not, but it's those times where you connect that a potential goldmine awaits.
Flopping a Big Hand
One of the primary mistakes that poker players make with suited connectors is not being able to aptly determine what constitutes a big hand with a suited connector. If you don't know what you are looking for, it will be difficult to decide whether or not you should continue on with the pot. Using the 6h 9h example above, while disregarding the actual pre-flop action, you aren't going to be thrilled when a lone 6 comes on the flop.
A pair isn't the type of thing that you are looking for. Pairs and other types of made hands that are actually misses will be enough to suck you into paying off your opponent, but not enough to win many pots. With suited connectors, you need to go after the big hands, ranging from two pair all the way up to the flopped nuts.
How you proceed with a big flopped hand is an art form in and of itself. You'll need to analyze where exactly you stand in relation to your opponent, what you are going to do if certain cards fall, and how you are going to extract the most money possible. Once you decide to run with a suited connector that has hit the flop hard, you need to be positive that you have a sound and complete game plan in place for the remainder of the hand. A lack of preparedness is going to crush your chances of success not only with big suited connector hands, but with just about any other hand you flop hard with, too.
Missing the Flop
The true temptation with suited connectors and missed flops is found in the opportunity to attempt bluffs. Sometimes you'll want to continue with a hand like AQ after you missed, using the consolation that it has a legitimate chance to improve down the line. With suited connectors that miss the flop, however, you are left with virtually nothing to look forward to. The reason that a lot of players end up losing a ton with missed flops and suited connectors is that they see no other way out. Instead of sacrificing a relatively small pot, they use a missed flop as their chance to try and be aggressive.
Missed flops are the exact type of situation where you need to cut your losses and move on. There's only minimal value in trying to make plays in these situations, and this is for a handful of reasons. First, as mentioned previously, you don't have many ways to significantly improve your hand. This means that you are going to win by getting folds and by getting folds only.
Second, your opponent is unlikely to give you credit. If you called a raise or limped into the pot, a board with high cards is unlikely to have connected with your typical range. Yes, you'll manage to procure a fold from time to time, but you are going to spend an awful lot of money attempting to win what amounts to a select few pots. All things considered, giving up is usually going to be your go-to move with suited connectors on a bricked flop.
Playing Draws on the Flop
If you are playing a lot of suited connectors, you are going to wind up flopping a ton of straight and flush draws. As exciting as these types of hands may be, you need to always remember that they aren't made hands. Some over anxious players tend to go wild with draws as if they have already landed the immortal nuts. Instead of doing this, you should be working to figure out how you can best play the hand so that it is both deceptive and capable of achieving max value should you be able to hit.
Every hand is different from the next, there's no doubt about it. As a result, you should not be adapting the same strategies in each and every hand that you play. If you are facing an aggressive player who can make folds, big raises can be huge winners given the inherent fold equity in play. If you are up against a passive player who calls anything, then leading out until you hit and betting larger when you complete your hand can be the optimal strategy.
Fold equity is one of the biggest factors in play with flopped draws. Fold equity is the value that you have in your hand when you can raise and get folds when compared with the times where you raise, get called, and manage to hit your hand. Don't get the money all in by any means necessary. Look for ways to get folds as much as possible, while also having a good chance of hitting your hand on the turn or the river.
An open shove is asking for trouble with draws, but a check raise is wildly profitable. With a check raise you make money from their bet and have many outs if they call your raise. When you shove all in, however, you only get called by better hands and make no extra money. As you can see, the differences in long term profitability are significant.
Playing Draws Post-Flop
Just as you needed to be creative in the ways that you play your draws on the flop, you'll still need to proceed with caution post-flop. If you hit your hand, don't make it obvious to everyone at the table. Think about how your opponents will perceive any play and then construct a plan to throw them off their game. If you check called the flop, think about leading the turn if you miss. If you check raised the turn when you hit, think about checking the river. There are many ways to play your made draws deceptively post-flop, and the harder that it is to put you on a hand, the more money that you'll potentially earn.
Author: Jonathan Wanchalk
Updated: March 2015
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