When Should I Play Suited Connectors?

Introduction to Suited Connectors

Two cards in sequential order of the same suited are suited connectors. They are appealing on the eye and have great value under the right circumstances. Many a professional’s have suited connectors as their favourite hand in Texas Holdem.

When Not To

Short stacks

This is not the time to play the 56 suited. You want big cards that fare well in pre flop confrontations. These types of hands will do poorly against hands the likely hand ranges you will face. Let’s look at 4d 5d. It is about 41% against an Ace King and 22% against a pair of 9s. Not scenarios that work well for the 4-5 suited. The same is true if your opponent has a short stack, you can’t play the suited connector for full value.

Out of Position

Suited Connectors are difficult to play effectively out of position. The fact is, you cannot control the betting or pot size how you wish as well when you first to act. If you flop a draw or a low pair, how do you proceed? It’s tricky isn’t it? It’s hard to get the full value when you do hit too so be careful playing these hands out of position.

Against The Best Players

Calibre of opponent is always a consideration at the table when you are entering a pot. Whilst suited connectors are a joy to win big pots with, sometimes you need to tighten up and play premium hands. If there is an amazing player at your table who can hand read well and difficult to extract value from then playing the suited connector to one of his raises might not be wise.

When You Can

Deep Stack Poker

They are great when stacks are deep and you can crack a big pair or top pair top kicker hand that your opponent is overplaying. This is where implied odds are brilliant. You can afford to call a 2.2bb raise if you know you can win 125 bbs.

In Position

Position is the best isn’t it? You can get away with playing hands you just wouldn’t if you were having to act first all hand. This is true for suited connectors too. I will happily call a raise on the button with 8s 9s against a tight player, knowing their range and able to get value or take it away later in the hand. This is why you can play suited connectors in position, because you have more opportunities to bluff or semi bluff later in the hand.

Limp in Poker & Why It’s Almost Always Bad

The open limp is where a player will enter the pot with by flat calling the blinds. It is the cheapest way to enter the pot and generally used by beginner players to see how the rest of table will act before choosing to invest more before the flop.  

Why is it so Bad?

I’m willing to stick my neck out on this one and say it’s almost always bad to open limp in tournament poker. There are scenarios where it can be ok – I make exception from the small blind, but every other position I will almost never advocate an open limp. If you are a member of our training video membership, you will see an open limp from an opponent at my table will a instantly justify a weak tag on them. Judgmental? Yes, but with good reason. Let’s take a look at some reasons why open limping is bad poker strategy.

Weak Passive
Players can often be grouped into several categories, each one with distinct traits that separate them from others e.g. tight aggressive and loose aggressive. The style of poker that involves open limping is generally weak passive, one of the worst traits to have. Why? Winning poker strategy almost always means playing aggressively, you can achieve this with different pre-flop hand selection but you must be aggressive when you do play (generally). Adopting a weak passive style is likely to see you getting bullied out of countless pots, as the reality is, you will not hit enough strong hands to command a decent post flop win %.

Limping in is very fishy play

What Are You Representing?
By open limping, you are telling the table you have a weak to medium strength hand. Any decent player will immediately recognise that you want to enter the pot cheaply as you are not coming in for a raise. The reason this is bad is simple, a table of good players will isolate your limps and take pot after pot from you. You cannot legitimately represent premium hands when you open limp/call which makes post flop play tricky for you too.

Ingredients
I always ask students, are the ingredients of the hand on your side when you are involved in a pot. The ingredients being ; position, pre-flop lead/aggression, hand strength and ability. This can be converted to questions as follows:

  • Are you in position?
  • Are you the pre flop raiser?
  • Are you likely to have the stronger hand?
  • Are you the better player?

Now let’s answer the questions above when you open limp As 6s from early position:

  • Are you in position? (No – unless they fold to the blinds)
  • Are you the pre flop raiser?  (No)
  • Are you likely to have the stronger hand? (Maybe – only if it folds to the blinds)
  • Are you the better player? (Unlikely if you are the type of player to open limp)

Clearly the ingredients to winning the hand are not on your side by adopting a limp in style of poker. That doesn’t mean you won’t win the hand but you are handicapped somewhat.

Conclusion
Limping in is a poor poker strategy. It makes playing post flop poker harder, you are less likely to win and more likely to get bluffed out too. By adopting this style, you are inviting better players to abuse you before and after the flop and put you in awkward positions. There are professionals that have attempted this style of poker in the past with a view to setting traps but it is rarely profitable and to be used at your peril. Even with the relentless aggression in online poker, the limp in style of poker is not one to be seriously considered yet. It’s possible in 10 years, that limping in might be a strategy to consider (but I doubt it!).  

I hope you enjoyed this article, feel free to email us any questions about limping at info@texasholdemquestions.com

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Texas Holdem Questions

Poker Squeeze

A phrase given to a pre flop play in Texas Holdem where a player will re-raise over an initial raise and one or more pre-flop calls. It is usually with the intention of picking the pot up before the flop without showdown.

History of Squeeze Play
Twenty years ago, the squeeze was not even a play as such, a few of the best players probably did it without giving it the name but it was seldom used. Then Dan Harrington brought out his tournament books and with it, a revolutionary concept. Tight aggressive players found a new weapon to use and exploit opposition with.
However, poker is an evolving game with trends and once this strategy was being used all the time, winning players started taking note and with it, a shift in mentality. No longer could the squeeze play be used with impunity as you were likely to get 4 bet by a competent and thinking player. Or they would flat call an open with AA/KK from an aggressive player, hoping you would squeeze. The pendulum has swung back again though and it is not a move mentioned too often and it’s used less than the aftermath of its revelation to the poker world. It’s a brilliant move to use but only if the ingredients are there and you don’t over use it.

When is the Right Time to Squeeze?
The squeeze play loosely rests on the assumption that the open raiser is unlikely to be holding a premium hand. The theory being that a flat caller is also unlikely to be super strong, otherwise, they surely would have re-raised themselves. Whilst the logic is reasonable, you need certain to ingredients to be on your side for the squeeze have a reasonable chance of success. Please consider the factors below before squeezing.

1) Stack Sizes
There is no use squeezing and committing your chips and having to call an all in because you’ve priced yourself in. Have a close look at the stack sizes when you are considering a squeeze. It’s entirely plausible that a flat caller is setting a trap when short stacked or that either player will just go with their hand if they are short stacked at the start of the hand.

2) Your Table Image & Reputation
If you have a reputation for pulling off a lot of 4 bets and tricky aggressive moves then it far less likely to work. It’s better to have a solid table image at the time of making a squeeze. Your squeeze has to be credible i.e. your opponents need to believe that you are likely holding a premium hand.

3) Calibre of Opponent
If your opponent has shown no inclinations to fold before the flop, do not consider squeezing. Whilst your logic that they are weak pre flop is true, it does not mean they will fold. You can still squeeze if you wish but be prepared to play a big pot.

4) Position
As always, position is important. It’s better to be squeezing in position than out of position as you will get to play the hand in position for the rest of the hand. It’s not 100% essential to be in position when squeezing as the intention is to pick it up pre flop, however, it is another factor to consider.

5) Hand Strength
There’s no use turning very playable hands and positive scenarios into wasteful ones by squeezing. If you are holding a suited connector or a little pair in position, multi-way, then it’s best to play the pot and try to get value. A squeeze is usually better to do with a hand of little value or good blockers, e.g. Ace Three.

I hope you enjoyed this article on the squeeze play. Feel free to subscribe our mailing list and receive more free tips and exclusive offers or follow us on twitter. You can also contact us at info@texasholdemquestions.com.

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Texas Holdem Questions

3 Bet – What & When?

What is a 3 Bet?
You may have heard the phrase 3 bet watching poker on TV or at your local casino and wondered what it meant. A 3 Bet is the term used in poker to describe a specific re raise.  A 3 bet is typically made before the flop but can also be performed post flop. It is the third bet on a specific round. Check out examples below:

Example 1 (Pre-Flop 3 Bet)

Player A calls £5 before the flop, Player B raises to £20, Player C re-raises to £65 from the small blind. This raise by Player C is a “3 bet”. This is effectively the third bet, hence the phrase “3 bet”.

Example 2 (Post-Flop 3 Bet)
Player A raises to £20 and Player B calls from the big blind. The flop is Jh 7s 2d. Player B checks, Player A bets £30 (1st bet) , Player B re-raises to £75 (2nd bet) and Player A puts in re raise to £225 (3rd bet or “3bet”).

3 bet
Photo by Tony Hand @mr_t55

What Does a 3 Bet Mean?

A decade ago, a 3 bet before the flop usually meant a premium hand (Pocket Jacks or better) however, with the evolution of online poker and aggressive poker strategy, this is no longer the case. A pre flop 3 bet now can be given less credence, particularly with certain players. The context, table demographic and opponent 3 betting are the key factors to be looked at when considering what to do in the face of this move. It is now used to isolate weak players, steal the pot pre flop, exploit a player opening too wide, balance a player’s re raise range or just to have the lead in the hand. This is why observing your opponents, taking notes and understanding their strategy is key to winning. If you know Player A knows you are opening 90% of hands on the button and is an observant, thinking player, he is likely to open his range of 3 betting range from the blinds.

When Should One 3 Bet?

Context and history is very important. If you are facing a player that is super tight when facing a re-raise, you can 3 bet almost with impunity. On the other hand, if you are facing a maniacal player who has shown tendency to move all in before the flop and 4 bet lightly. You should be more wary about 3 betting with nothing. Perhaps consider lessening your stacking off range and be prepared to hold on.

Conclusion

A 3 bet is an important weapon in a winning player’s arsenal. When used effectively, it can make you feel unbeatable, particularly when you’re doing it with rags. The key thing to remember when 3 betting or facing a 3 bet, is making a calculated decision before the flop. Is your opponent likely to be holding a weak hand or not? If not, you are more often than not facing the dreaded Aces or Kings. Playing the player is critical when it comes down to 3 bets.

If you are keen to learn more about 3 betting and how to incorporate them in your game. Feel free to contact us or sign up to our poker training video membership to see how 3 bets can be used in tournaments.

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Texas Holdem Questions

Re-Raise Early Position Opens

When was the last time you 3 bet an early position raise with junk? How many times in your last session? This move is really underused these days and barely discussed but there is a lot to be said for putting in a re-raise again an early position open from an active player. I find this play to be one of the most profitable pre flop moves available at the moment.

Why?
Most good thinking players have opened their game up enough that they are quite liberal opening from anywhere on the table these days, even early position. A good player will be opening suited connectors and suited aces from early position. They will open these because they are hands with great play-ability and equity, even multi-way, and they are representing something stronger too so it fits in line with stories told post flop.
They won’t hesitate to fold pre flop when facing a re raise as they no longer have the lead in the hand and want to play in position. The best way to counter this strategy is to simply re raise and pick it up before the flop. This works very well against the good players, and when you are in position in the hand. 
The weak players will often open raise wide pre flop too. They will occasionally call the re-raise pre flop but then fold unless they flop well so a continuation bet is usually all that is needed to win the pot.
Either way, the strategy is effective against both types of player. The key component is that your opponent has shown a willingness to open wide from early position.

When?
You can do this at any point in a tournament but please make sure you and your opponents have sufficient stack size and that you are not committed for lots of chips. It’s usually a good idea to do this with hands that have poor equity or showdown value as you know you are not losing anything if you get 4 bet and you are unlikely to get stubborn post flop. You know you are playing this as a bluff. It’s ok to do it with Ace rag too as this has some blocker value. 
I don’t recommend doing this with hands that play well post flop as much as you should be more inclined to play post flop with these hands, particularly in position.

I demonstrated this strategy recently in a low stakes MTT on PokerStars.  I made a point of trying to find as many opportunities to re-raise pre flop, in position. It’s quite fun to employ this strategy and very effective! Check it out below in our training video page.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Please email info@texasholdemquestions with feedback and questions.

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Texas Holdem Questions