Shirley Rosario
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Suited Connectors

Suited Cards and No Limit Holdem

by Shirley Rosario

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Suited ConnectorsThere are a few premium starting hands in No Limit Holdem, but normally suited connectors have the potential to win the largest pots. Limit Holdem and No Limit Holdem are two totally different games, but most people fail to understand this. In Limit Holdem, the game is more about starting hands. I would almost never play suited connectors in Limit Holdem unless both cards were higher than a nine. In No Limit Holdem, it is a totally different story.

No Limit Hold'em is about betting and the implied odds you might get if you make a huge hand. For example, if you can make a $15 call with suited connectors preflop against an opponent with $400, it would be worth it to make the call in certain situations. There are many times, I call a player when I think he has a good hand because of the potential for a huge pay off. This has worked out for me many times, but I remember one hand specifically. In a No Limit game I had about $900 in front of me. One of the tighter players at the table raised the $5 big blind to $30. It was likely that this player had aces or kings, but he had $800 in front of him that was mine for the taking if things went well. From previous experience, I knew this player was not capable of laying down huge pairs regardless of the flop; therefore I called with 54 of clubs. I hit a dream flop when two fives showed up and managed to take all of his chips. The funny thing about the hand is that it was raised, reraised and re-reraised all-in but the tight player still could not relinquish his hand.

Although, winning a large pot with suited connector hands is rewarding in itself, it is oftentimes more rewarding later because players can see that you are capable of playing any two cards. I see the looks of amazement (and disgust) when I turn some of these hands over. I can imagine the wheels in an opponent’s brain turning… "How could she play a hand like that when it was been raised?" and "If she is capable of playing a hand like that, what could she turn over next time?"

The next time, you throw them for a loop when you play a premium hand. Players that see you turn over hands that are "weak" are going to give you more action in future hands. That is when the value of suited connectors comes into play even more. Your opponents can not (or choose not to) put you on premium cards. You will extract a lot more value than you normally would when you play your big pocket pairs -- although you do have to expect that they will successfully draw out on you sometimes because they are undervaluing your hand.

One of the most important things to remember about playing suited connectors in No Limit Holdem is that you are looking to make a huge hand. If you are holding 87 of diamonds and the flop comes 854 with one diamond, you have to be capable of letting the hand go much of the time. You are looking to flop nut straights, open ended flush draws, trips or two pair. Flopping top pair with a weak kicker is not hitting huge. You must also remember that you can not risk a large portion of your stack trying to hit a huge hand because the implied odds are what make playing this hand worth the risk. If you (or your opponent) do not have the chips behind you to bet to receive the implied odds, then just fold your hand.

Playing suited connectors is one of my biggest tools when playing No Limit Hold'em. There are not many people that appreciate the value in it and that makes it all the more rewarding. I know one player, Daniel Negreanu, who totally understands the value of playing them.