How to Play Small Suited Connectors in NLHE

What is so difficult with playing small suited connectors?

The Power of Small Suited Connectors

By small suited connectors we mean hands ranging from T9s down to 32s. JTs is borderline as it is considered a pretty strong hand in its own right. T9s is quite strong too. On the other hand 32s is very weak and should almost always be tossed.

So here small suited connectors means [89s,87s,76s,54s] for the most part with possible addition from the aisles of this range.

Typically these hole cards are considered very weak and should only be played if it is cheap to enter a multiway-pot with them. Their value obviously resides in the possibility to draw both to a straight and a flush, and as drawing hands they cannot be played profitably unless the odds ratio is high.

These hands have become popular after the publication of Doyle Brunson's Super System, a course in power poker. Be careful with them though, Dennis Phillips was eliminated from the 2008 WSOP main event when he raised all in with T9o.

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Modern Play for Small Suited Connectors

What Doyle revealed among other things in his Bible of Poker is how he plays these small suited connectors. He often says that despite copyrights that have earned him hundreds of thousands of dollars, this book has cost him millions by exposing his groundbreaking techniques.

So what Doyle was one of the first to do with them is to raise them preflop. This is a powerful and deceitful technique because your opponents expect you to raise with a big pair, a strong ace or at least some Broadway like KQs. Hence when you happen to hit the flop well, everyone things that you missed it.

This is an advanced technique and for most players it is a leak to play these hands too often and in the wrong situations. The key for playing this type of hand is to know when to fold them and know when to play them aggressively, in other words to find the good opportunities.

One good reason in support of this tactic is that in No-Limit Texas Holdem it is very difficult to do well if you are the caller. Initiative, aggression, raising preflop, provide tremendous value as this forces the other player to make a hand. Generally speaking, avoid calling other player's raises if you can.

So by playing these hands aggressively, not only do you increase your overall aggression, but you also "mix your game" and add an element of unpredictability. Last but not least, you can win huge pots with them that you would not win with rockets, because AA is always on top of the list of possible holdings of someone who bets the ranch, but not 65s.

Play Small Suited Connectors wisely

This type of technique has been refined and modified by younger players such as Daniel Negreanu. His so-called small ball style of playing poker includes getting involved cheaply in many pots, hoping to create a favorable situation by hitting the board when no one could tell. Not exactly in the same way as Doyle, but small suited connectors are favorite hands for tricky players.

The problem with suited connectors is that they got so much publicity from these famous players that many beginning and intermediate players play them way to often. Read or reread super-system, understand the nuances, and remember that these hands should be used only on occasion as a way to mix your game.

Use them to raise, not to call with the wrong odds.


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