The value of suitedness can’t be overstated. It’s enormous. Some no-limit players fool themselves with a bit of fallacious suitedness logic. It goes like this.
“Starting with two suited cards, you make a flush only 6 percent of the time by the river. The other 94 percent of the time, being suited is irrelevant. In fact, it can cost you money because you’re drawing to a flush that doesn’t come. And some of these flushes you’ll never see because you’ll get bet out of the pot before you see all the cards. Therefore, suited cards are overrated.”
This logic, I assure you, is completely bogus. Let me quickly run through the counter-arguments.
- Sure, suited hands make flushes by the river only six percent of the time. But a flush is a big hand and almost always wins the pot. Getting an extra six-percent chance to win a pot is pretty valuable.
- Big hands are capable of winning big pots. So it’s not just any six percent of pots we’re talking about here. The pots you win with flushes will often be among the biggest pots you win. In no-limit, we’re not just interested in how often something happens. But how much you might win if it does. So even if flushes are rare, they can be a huge windfall.
- Big hands can also win multi-way pots. If you routinely see a flop with four-to-six opponents, the ability to make a big winning hand takes on greater importance.
- How big do you think the edges are in poker? Casinos have been built on winnings from blackjack, craps, and baccarat, and the house edges in those games are often less than three percent. You can’t laugh off a six-percent chance and expect to win.
Furthermore, suitedness is the most important factor a hand can have when it comes to equity-when-called. True, suited cards may not actually turn into flushes all that often. But suited cards flop flush draws considerably more often.
What’s the value of a flush draw you ask? Having a flush draw to fall back on if your bluff gets called is among the best equity you can have. It’s so good, in fact, that your equity-when-called should you flop just a backdoor flush draw (e.g., J♥T♥ on a
9♦5♥3♠ flop) is quite significant.
Suitedness is so important that, for the most part, unsuited
Most players know that ace-king is a good hand—even when it’s not suited. It’s the tremendous big-card strength that gives this unique hand its value.
Other big-card combinations also give you an edge. A hand like K♥J♥ on a 9♥7♣2♦ board is frequently strong enough to bet or raise against an opponent playing too many hands. Your overcards, plus the backdoor flush draw, give your hand enough equity-when-called to push some aggression. Holding 5♥4♥ on this board, however, is much weaker.
Big cards also give you a way to win medium pots with top pair. But, again, without suitedness, most hands are not worth playing. A-K and A-Q are usually exceptions. But once you get down even to A-J and K-Q offsuit, the big cards alone are often not strong enough to justify a play.
In particular, hands such as A-6 offsuit or K-8 offsuit with one big and one medium card and no suitedness are essentially junk in the vast majority of common scenarios in live no-limit games. Make these hands suited, however, and they’re sometimes (but not always) playable. The suitedness along with the marginal big- card value can give them enough equity-when-called on many boards to get them into playable ranges.
Connectedness can substitute for big cards to make hands like
9♥8♥ and 6♠5♠ playable. Offsuit connected hands like 9♥8♠ are rarely playable in a typical 9- or 10-handed live no-limit game. Yet, many players get in trouble with suited connectors because they play them only for their ability to make big hands. With a hand like 7♦6♦ they think: “I’ll get in cheap to see a flop
and if I don’t clobber my hand I’ll fold and get out.”
Once again, this mindset doesn’t get the money. You’re looking for situations where your opponents are playing too many hands, and your goal is to bet and raise them in these situations. You’ll bet and raise strong hands and hope to get called, but you’ll also bet and raise weak hands (preferably those that have equity-when-called) to get folds.
Suited connectors are the champions of equity-when-called.
They rarely flop big hands. But very often they flop strong equity. This type of hand “hits” the widest range of possible flops, so long as you consider the value of features like flush draws, straight draws (including gutshots), backdoor draws, and bottom and middle pair.
These features are, indeed, “hits” as long as you’re not depending on winning at showdown to get value. Hands like these tend to be the best choices to bet as bluffs on the flop and turn. Suited connectors, therefore, tend to be great bluffing hands. It’s best to think of them that way starting right now.