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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Playing Suited Hands and "Connectors" in Texas Hold'em

16 July 2005

I'm amazed at how many new Texas Hold'em players are in the local card rooms these days. I'm also amazed at how wild most of these new players play.

The other night I was in a $20/$40 Hold'em game at a local casino. The "under-the-gun" player (first to act) came in raising it to $40. I folded my K/J offsuit, and the player behind me made it $60 to go. Two more players around the back end called $60 cold, and the four of them saw the flop with $270 already in the pot. It was:

Qd – 10s – 7h

The under the gun man (who was the first pre-flop raiser) bet $20 and the next player (who had re-raised pre-flop) now made it $40. Both late position players called $40 cold and then Under the Gun re-raised it to $60. Everybody called and they all saw the "turn" (fourth) card. It was the 3 of diamonds.

Under the Gun bet $40 and the next player called. There was one fold, then the "button" (the player in last position) trailed in, bringing it down to three participants.

The "river" (fifth and final) card was the Ace of diamonds, making the final board:

Qd – 10s – 7h – 3d – Ad

Forget about the fact that I would've made an Ace high straight – my K/J didn't warrant calling raises to see the flop. Anyway, Under the Gun bet out and the middleman promptly raised it to $80. Guess what happened next? The Button made it $120!

Well, Under the Gun put his head down and just shook it back and forth for several seconds, then tossed his hand towards the dealer signifying a fold. Middleman called the last $40 and the Button turned over

9d/7d

to win a $900 pot with a back door diamond flush. Middleman showed pocket Aces and complained that he was leading all the way, made three Aces at the river and got them beat. Under the Gun then went scrambling into the discards trying to prove that he in fact had pocket Queens and had made three Queens on the flop.

Middleman bitterly chastised the Button demanding, "How can you call a double raise before the flop with a 9/7?"

"Hey", retorted the Button, "I was suited!"

That's what this article is about today – people overplaying their Hold'em hands because they're either suited or "connected". The truth is, having a suited hand or two "connectors" (straight cards) doesn't really add all that much to its value. It merely makes your hand about two notches better than if it was unsuited or unconnected.

For example, say you've got that 9/7 suited from the above scenario. Being suited makes your hand about as strong overall as a J/9 offsuit – two notches higher. And neither a J/9 offsuit nor a 9/7 suited have any business calling three bets to see a flop.

It's the same with connectors. If you have an unsuited connector like 8/7, it's about as good as an unsuited J/8 before the flop – again around two notches higher. Remember, suited hands and connectors make their flushes and straights only about 1 time in 20, so don't fall in love with them. Most of your hand's playability has to come from other areas – like high cards.

Ordinarily, to pay one bet to see the flop you need unsuited, non-connectors of A/Q or A/J from early or middle position. If you're suited, you can lower that a couple of notches to K/J suited or A/10 suited. With unsuited connectors, you'd need K/Q or Q/J, minimum. And if there's been a raise, tighten up even more.

From later position you can play unsuited, non-connectors of Q/9 or J/9 minimum for one bet. That makes your minimum suited qualifier something like 10/7 suited and your unsuited connector an 8/7 or so. If there's been a raise, though, you must upgrade everything a few notches higher.

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

> More Books By Fred Renzey

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

> More Books By Fred Renzey