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The Real Value of Suited Connectors

How to play them profitably

by Ed Miller |  Published: May 28, 2010


Suited connectors are widely misunderstood hands. A while back, I wrote a column called “How Suited Connectors Cost You Money.” In that column, I discussed a common way that many people misplay suited connectors, and how it costs them money. This column is also about suited connectors, but here, I’ll focus more on how to play them profitably.

A common misconception about suited connectors is that they are “multiway hands.” The idea is that if you hold a hand like the 6Diamond Suit 5Heart Suit, you want nothing more than to have six people in the pot with you. Some people even take the idea so far as to say that they’d rather have 6-5 suited in a seven-handed pot than pocket aces.

The reality is that suited connectors are OK hands in multiway pots, and only OK. Their obvious upside is that they can make straights and flushes, hands strong enough to win big pots. But they also have a few problems:

1. Small suited connectors make small flushes. Getting beat by a higher flush is extremely expensive, and in some circumstances you’ll be reluctant to play for stacks even if you make your flush.

2. Small suited connectors make small, vulnerable two-pair hands. Two pair is an important hand in hold’em. If you make two pair with a hand like A-10, you often have a hand strong enough to play for stacks. But if you make two pair with 7-6 in a pot with several opponents, many times you will be too vulnerable to escalate the betting. Not being able to get good value for your two-pair hands is a significant drawback.

3. Suited connectors usually flop draws, not made hands. If the flop betting gets big, the player with the suited connector may not be able to continue and may miss out on making his hand.

Compare the hand to a small pocket pair. Pocket pairs make sets, which are also strong hands that can win big pots. But they are stronger multiway hands on all three counts. If the board pairs, you usually won’t be worried about losing to a bigger hand. Instead, if someone makes trips, you can win a lot with your full house. Also, small cards don’t make pocket pairs particularly vulnerable. Even a set of deuces is a strong hand that you can usually play happily for stacks. Finally, small pocket pairs flop made hands, not draws. Either you hit your set or you don’t.

Small pocket pairs are unquestionably good multiway hands. Suited connectors, on the other hand, often end up having to play scared when many players see a flop.

So, what are the strengths of a suited connector?

1. They hit a lot of flops. There are many ways to hit your hand. You can flop a pair, a flush draw, an open-end straight draw, or even a gutshot.

2. If you are known to play suited connectors (as most players are), you can credibly represent a strong hand when the board contains mostly low cards.

3. If you get to showdown, they give you a decent chance of having the best hand.

The first two strengths of suited connectors suggest their real value in no-limit hold’em. Suited connectors are good bluffing hands. They hit a lot of flops, which means that you can often bluff the flop and turn with them, and if you get called, you still have a reasonable chance of winning the pot. Bluffing is generally more profitable when your hand has equity than when it has no showdown value whatsoever. Suited connectors have significant equity on the flop more often than other types of hands.

Many players misplay suited connectors by ignoring the real value of the hands. They just sit back with them and try to hit straights and flushes. That won’t happen often enough, and it won’t be profitable enough when it does happen, to make a real profit. To make these hands profitable, you have to be willing to bluff with them.

Here’s a routine but important example: It’s a $2-$5 game with $500 stacks. A loose player opens for $20 from three off the button. You call from the button with the 9Club Suit 8Club Suit. The big blind also calls.

The flop comes KClub Suit 7Diamond Suit 4Club Suit. Everyone checks to you, and you bet $50. The big blind calls, and the preflop raiser folds.

The turn is the AHeart Suit. The big blind checks, you bet $120, and he folds.

In this example, you flop a flush draw with the suited connector. As I mentioned before, a small flush made with a suited connector can be a vulnerable hand in multiway pots. This pot is only three-handed, however, so you can be reasonably confident that a completed flush will be the best hand.

When the preflop raiser elects to check the flop against multiple opponents, it usually indicates a weak hand that’s prepared to fold. Given that fact, a flop bluff is nearly mandatory. The big blind will often fold, and so will the preflop raiser.

The big blind surprises with a call, but the turn card is another good one to bluff. Many of the hands with which the big blind could have called the flop — unimproved pocket pairs, sevens, fours, flush and straight draws, and sometimes even kings — he will fold to a solid turn barrel. And, again, if called, you still have roughly a 20 percent chance to make a flush on the river.

Suited connectors hit lots of flops. They also produce lots of bluffing opportunities. Don’t just sit back and try to make your hand. Pull the trigger when the opportunities present themselves. If you do that, you’ll get the real value out of your suited connectors. Spade Suit

Ed’s latest book, Small Stakes No-Limit Hold’em, is available for purchase at He is a featured coach at, and you can also check out his online poker advice column,