Hand Quality: Suited Connectors

Suited Connectors (JTs – 54s*) represent only 2.11% of all starting hand combinations.

These hands are generally weak in raw equity (so not good for preflop stackoffs in a cash game) but flop well and have the ability to make strong hands by the river (including the maximum of four possible two-card straights). They are known as overpair killers.

Suited connectors do have certain ROI (reverse implied odds) issues since they rarely make the absolute best hand possible on the board (i.e. they make non-nut flushes and straights), however, they are a valuable part of overall ranges since they balance them well and are great for semi-bluffing on many boards.

They greatly benefit from having position due to fairly low raw equity but good potential.

* Some authors include AKs, KQs, QJs, 43s, 32s, A2s into suited connector group, but those hands make only 1-3 possible straights and therefore, have reduced speculative value compared to “true” suited connectors (basically they are more closely related to “gappers”). Since AKs, KQs and QJs were already covered in previous articles and A2s will be covered in Suited Aces article, I decided to leave them out of this one. As for 43s and 32s, they have very little value due to massive ROI issues (= they are ideal hands to get coolered with).

Suited Connectors

Suited Connectors have the following odds to flop desirable hands:

Strong made hand = 5.62%

Flush = 0.84%

Two pair = 2.02%

Trips = 1.35%

Full House = 0.09%

Quads = 0.01%

Straight = 1.31%

Combo draw (12-20 outs vs. an overpair) = 6.92%

20 outer (open ended straight draw / OESD + flush draw / FD + pair) = 0.077%

17 outer (gutshot + FD + pair) = 0.153%

15 outer (OESD + FD) = 1.424%

14 outer (pair + flush draw) = 1.45%

13 outer (pair + straight draw) = 1.147%

12 outer (gutshot + flush draw) = 2.664%

Only a flush draw (no other equity) = 5.17%

Open ended straight draw (no other equity) = 8.05%

Total speculative value:

Very good hand (strong made hands + combo draws) = 12.54%

Draws (flush draw or OESD) = 13.22%

TOTAL = 25.76%

One pair (no draws) = 26% – This is not what we are looking for when holding a suited connector, but it adds some value to the hand (good for semi bluffing if we raised preflop since there are five outs to make 2 pair by the river, which is around 20% chance).

Individual Breakdown:

JTs

I have already covered JTs in the Suited Broadways article.

It is important to note it’s the only suited connector which can flop four nut straights (= does not have to worry about opponent’s ranges and whether he really plays 4-gappers from the BTN / blinds).

T9s

Hand strength = Weaker than 18.55% of hands, stronger than 81.15%. Equity vs. random hand = 54.03%.

Speculative value = Flops 3 nut straights (876, J87, QJ8) and 1 additional non-nut straight (KQJ) where it needs to fear only AT.

Paradoxically, T9s is in a sense the weakest SC hand because other players tend to play Broadway hands (especially suited). The implication is that (when it sees the flop) on average it has reduced number of straight outs compared to smaller connectors and in many cases gets coolered by bigger straights (or needs to be careful and pot control, therefore reducing the average payouts).

However, things are much better when it makes a flush. Same as all other suited connectors, T9s is dominated by bigger suited hands, but on the other hand, receives value from all lower suited connectors and medium / low “gappers” (hands like 86s and such) so overall it comes out ahead in cooler situations.

Position = Plays much better in position, but due to range balancing needs (more on this in a later article) it is commonly played as an open raise from all positions. It can cbet with some equity on many boards, but generally not the best type of hand to blindly barrel off out of position (even if it hits a medium pair on the turn/river, it is still a weak showdown holding). Can call open raises / resteals in position (BTN vs blinds) due to good flopability.

Previous action in the hand = Good type of hand to overcall (raiser + callers) with in position and even in the blinds (where it is not as easy to get paid but raw equity is good enough to call). Should be open folded to heavy action (raise + 3bet). Standard hand to open the action with, regardless of position.

Preflop stackoff equity vs. range of AA-QQ, AK = 29.89%

98s

Hand strength = Weaker than 26.55% of hands, stronger than 73.15%. Equity vs. random hand = 50.80%.

Speculative value = Flops 3 nut straights (765, T76, JT7) and 1 additional non-nut straight (QJT) where it might lose to AK and K9 (played by many in BTN and blinds).

Difference compared to T9s is slightly lesser Broadway interference (this is a trend that continues with other hands in the article) and worse ratio in flush over flush coolers (= less smaller flushes in opponent’s ranges and more bigger ones).

Position = Same as T9s.

Previous action in the hand = Same as T9s.

Preflop stackoff equity vs. range of AA-QQ, AK = 29.81%

87s

Hand strength = Weaker than 34.69% of hands, stronger than 65.01%. Equity vs. random hand = 47.94%.

Speculative value = Flops 3 nut straights (654, 965, T96) and 1 additional non-nut straight (JT9) where it might lose to KQ and Q8.

When it makes a flush, against heavy action it has a problem due to lack of symmetry in opponent’s ranges (bigger flushes are actually more likely than smaller ones!).

Position = Same as T9s.

Previous action in the hand = Same as T9s.

Preflop stackoff equity vs. range of AA-QQ, AK = 30.78%. This increase is due to lower number of dominated straight boards.

76s

Hand strength = Weaker than 44.19% of hands, stronger than 55.51%. Equity vs. random hand = 45.37%.

Speculative value = Flops 3 nut straights (543, 854, 985) and 1 additional non-nut straight (T98) where it might lose to QJ and J7. Does not suffer much from Broadway interference (only T is relevant) but is usually on the bad side of coolers in flush over flush situations so disciplined folds are sometimes necessary.

Position = Same as T9s.

Previous action in the hand = Same as T9s.

Preflop stackoff equity vs. range of AA-QQ, AK = 31.08%.

65s

Hand strength = Weaker than 48.57% of hands, stronger than 51.13%. Equity vs. random hand = 43.13%.

Speculative value = Flops 3 nut straights (432, 743, 874) and 1 additional non-nut straight (987) where it might lose to JT and T6 (very rarely, since it is on the bottom of ranges even in the BTN/blinds).

Completely free from Broadway interference (on both ends) and the best hand against AA (!) with 22.5% preflop equity (not great, but in position it has real value).

This added value usually makes it the best SC by a small margin even though it fares badly in (somewhat rare) flush over flush situations. It is not very difficult for a disciplined player to fold it to heavy action in such cases, so the cooler balance is overall positive.

Position = Same as T9s.

Previous action in the hand = Same as T9s.

Preflop stackoff equity vs. range of AA-QQ, AK = 31.14%.

54s

Hand strength = Weaker than 57.32% of hands, stronger than 42.38%. Equity vs. random hand = 41.45%.

Speculative value = Flops 3 nut straights (32A, 632, 763) and 1 additional non nut straight (876) where it might lose to T9 and 95 (only against very loose players). There is an interference problem with Ax hands that often see the flop (slightly reduced straight possibility).

Position = Same as T9s.

Previous action in the hand = Same as T9s.

Preflop stackoff equity vs. range of AA-QQ, AK = 30.77%.

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