How to Play Hold em Starting Hand: Suited Connectors

This article is in a series of articles that will look at various starting hands you can get in hold’em and what to do with them. It will focus mainly on preflop play, and will cover a normal 9 handed No limit game were you have an average chip size and a reasonable read on other players. While these articles do focus on no limit play, the principles can be applied to limit and pot limit games.

Before we discuss the strategies for playing suited connectors, this article will discuss what suited connectors are. Suited connectors are basically any 2 cards that are suited and are close enough to each other that they can form a straight on the flop. So for example 7, 8 of clubs is a suited connector because it can form a flush and can form a straight on the flop. A hand like K, 3 of hearts is not considered a suited connector because although it is suited, the cards together do not help form a straight together.

This article will discuss the strategies with playing suited connectors but first will describe what suited connectors are best to play. The suited connectors that should be played are the ones with no or 1 gap in them. For example 7, 8 has no gaps in it and should be played, 6, 8 has a gap in and can also be played. Even 2 gapers such 8, J can be played but 3 gapers should be avoided. They should be avoided because a 3 gaper such as 7, J can get you into real trouble when a flop such as 8, 9, 10 flops. You will like that flop as you have a straight but you will be losing to J, Q. For that reason I recommend you stick to playing no and 1 gapers. The other advantage of playing the connectors with less gaps in them is that they have more combinations and hence ways of making a straight on the flop. This means you are more likely to hit a straight and so their value increases over other cards.

You should aim to play middle or high suited connectors. So for example hands such as 2, 3 and 4, 5 should be played less aggressively then hands such as 7, 8 and 10, J. In fact the best suited connectors are probably the middle ones because they have more combinations of straights to hit but also have more of a surprise value.

We will look at what you should do with these hands in the following 3 positions early, which is 1st or 2nd person to act, late position on the button or 1 off it, or in middle position.

Early Position:

To play suited connectors well you need other players already in the pot to give you better odds at drawing to your straight or flush. Therefore from an early position I will usually fold the suited connectors unless I am very confident people will limp behind me. I would never raise with them here as they are a drawing hand and are a horrible hand to play heads up.

Middle Position:

If there are 1 or more raises in front of me I will generally fold these cards unless a few people have called the raise and I am confident of a reraise not coming from behind. If I do flat call here I hope to hit on the flop otherwise I will fold unless I have a really good draw like a flush and straight draw. If people have limped in front of me I will generally just limp with them. If no one has entered the pot I might limp in here if I am confident of others limping behind me otherwise I will fold. I would not raise here as once again getting heads up suited connectors is a weak play.

Late Position:

This position plays the same as the middle position except I would never limp from this position if no one had already entered the pot. If I wanted to play I would raise to put pressure on the blinds and to make them think I had a big hand. If I did not want to raise I would just fold.