Playing Small Suited Connectors

Chris Wheeler | September 26, 2011

Suited ConnectorsIt’s a beautiful sight. You’ve been dealt absolute garbage for the past half hour and finally you find yourself looking down at 9s Ts – something to play with. Your eyes light up at the prospect of a miracle flop.

You’re in middle position admiring your hole cards when, suddenly, there’s a raise from a player in early position. It’s folded around to you and you’re faced with a decision. There isn’t that much money in the pot just yet, you’re not getting great odds and you know the original raiser is in front. On top of all of this, there are still four or five players yet to act.

While small suited connectors look gorgeous in the hole, and can be extremely profitable at times, these hands are commonly overvalued by newer and less experienced players.

The ultimate issue at play when it comes to suited connectors is that they don’t evolve into monster hands as often as we’d like to think.

Having said this, when these hands do hit, the chances are you’re going to take your opponent/s by surprise more often than not and this can result in some big pay offs.

Generally speaking, if you are going to enter into a pot with small suited connectors, there are a few boxes you should be looking to tick off on your mental checklist;

  • Ideally, you should be in late position.
  • There should already be several players in the pot.
  • You need to be able to enter the pot for cheap.
  • The average stack of the opponents in the pot should generally be 70 big blinds or larger.

Why should I be in late position?

Let’s go back to the scenario used at the start of this article. You’re holding 9s Ts and you’re excited at the prospect of what the flop might bring. The player in early position has raised and it’s been folded around to you in middle position with five players behind you.

First of all, the big stacks you need to create value might all fold – after all, a raise from early position is a pretty good indicator that he or she is packing a strong hand. If they don’t fold there’s always the chance one of them will put in a big raise, by which time you’ll know you are way too far behind to call.

Sometimes you might try and take your chances and hey – you might sneak in for cheap from early position. But remember; you’re still going to have to play every street from that position and it’s going to be extremely hard to chase any draws you might hit profitably.

By waiting until you are in late position to play these hands you are making it easier on yourself by giving yourself the chance to judge pot odds with everyone else acting before you.

Why does there need to be several players in the pot?

First of all the more players in the pot, the better the odds will be for you to chase your draws.
Secondly, we all know how it feels to hit a monster and have nobody willing to play with you. The more people you have in the pot, the greater the chance there’ll be action if you do hit.

Let’s say you’ve ended up in the pot with your 9s Ts. You’ve flopped a straight draw and you’re in late position. The pot is $200.

If a player in early position bets out $100, and is called by two of your opponents, you’re going to be getting $500 to $100 (5 to 1) on your draw.

Imagine the same scenario where you’re in the pot with just one other person. Now, when they make the $100 bet, you’re only getting $300 to $100 (3 to 1) on your draw.

How come I need to enter the pot cheaply?

It’s tempting to take a chance on suited connectors but at the end of the day all those raises you’ve called with them are going to add up and eventually end up swallowing the occasional big wins you will have made with similar hands. The money you’ll spend seeing flops will eat away at your earnings unless you ensure that every time you’re getting involved with suited connectors, you’re doing so for cheap.

Sure, there’s nothing wrong with calling the occasional raise if you’re planning to steal the pot after the flop or if you’re playing heads up – but generally speaking you should restrict calling a raise with suited connectors to when several well-stacked players have already made the call.

Shipping It

When it comes to tournaments, suited connectors can often provide you with a good opportunity to take that last stand.

If you’re bleeding chips, the blinds are about to jump and you don’t have much time to find a strong hand, a hand like 9s Ts or 4d 5d is decent enough to push all-in with.

You’re hoping everyone folds so you can take the blinds and fight on, but even if this isn’t the case your hand still stands a decent chance. If you’re going to go up against As Ah or Ks Kd, you’re going to want to do it with suited connectors – they have the best chance of causing an upset.

In addition, when you push with suited connectors and get called, your cards will usually be live.