Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The peril of playing suited connectors out of position

Though suited connectors can be dangerous cards as you can connect on the flush or straight draws, and rarely on the straight flush draws, playing them can be quite perilous when you are out of position.

What do I mean by 'out of position?' Generally, this means that you are the first to bet after the flop. Here's an example that illustrates the problem:

Your hand: suited jack ten (spades)


2/5/J 'rainbow'

Okay, you now have top pair, but you have no idea what anyone else has flopped. If you bet too much, you might be giving away chips to someone who has AJ or if you don't bet enough, someone might catch something on the river or turn.

Recently, I made a bet of about 60 chips as it was early in the tournament (start with 1500). I wanted to bet enough to shake off the weak hands, but also not too much that I would be unhappy losing if I got re-raised.

Three players folded and one simply called.


6 (second diamond)

Okay, now I was trying to put the other player on a hand. I was pretty sure that they must have a Jack, but was unsure if they had a better kicker. I bet another 100 chips to hopefully get some information. The person simply called which didn't give me any information. I wasn't sure whether I was betting into a calling station who may actually have a better hand or get lucky on the river, or if they were slow playing a monster hand like a set.


10 of diamonds!

Wow, again I am out of position and now I have two pair. I really don't like the position that I am in as folding two pair is very difficult to do if I think the person has ace Jack which would make a lot of sense. Turns out the last hand in the world that I put the player on was actually the hand that he had. Though there were now three diamonds on the board, I was pretty sure that the player wouldn't calle even 160 chips at this stage of the tournament on a runner runner Queen high flush draw.

I bet 200 chips on the river as I went with my read that he had a hand like ace Jack. The player insta went all in following my bet. Fortunately, I had enough chips to cover his call and still be in the tournament. Since there was no preflop raise, I didn't put him on pocket jacks or even pocket fives. I thought he may have gotten lucky and flopped a set of ducks, but still didn't feel that this is what he had. I went with my read that he probably had AJ and called. To my astonishment, he had simply caught a runner runner queen high flush. I would never had suspected that someone who completely missed the flop save for one diamond, would call any amount of betting action to the river. When people make bizarre and generally unprofitable plays like this and get lucky, it can be very difficult to put them on a hand.

To summarize, the problem with playing suited connectors out of position is that you have to either risk betting enough to protect your hand and possibly get re-raised by a better hand on the flop, or you have to bet too little to protect your hand and risk getting sucked out on the river.

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