This is the fifth in our on-going series of columns on mistakes poker players often make – common mistakes. Usually, they pay dearly for the error.
Today, let’s discuss suited hole cards; they may look pretty, but can also be quite costly. Playing suited cards can be a big mistake in some cases.
For example, in a $4-$8 limit hold’em game, you look down on your hole cards and see two beautiful red hearts staring up at you. But much more important is the rank of those cards and your betting position. This should be quite apparent when you use the Hold’em Algorithm to help decide if these cards are playable – i.e., worthy of investing your precious poker chips.
According to the algorithm, the most important factors in making that key decision are the rank of the cards and your position. Next is whether your non-paired cards are connectors – two cards in sequence open at both ends. Least important by far is whether your two-hole cards are suited. Being suited adds only a tiny percentage to their value.
It’s important you consider your hole cards being suited as a very small bonus, but never enough to warrant a pre-flop investment unless the other factors – i.e., rank of your hole cards and betting position – are favorable. Otherwise, you are making a big mistake.
Why be so conservative and cautious? Very simple. Being suited adds only a very small amount to the worth. The odds of flopping your heart-flush are a whopping 118-to-1 against you. Yes, there is the possibility of catching two more of your suit on the flop, giving you a four-flush. The odds are about 8-to-1 against that. Then, with two more cards to come, you would have a reasonable chance to connect to the flush on the turn or on the river. But, overall, the odds are still very much against you.
One exception: It would make sense to call to see the flop only if the hand is multi-way (three or more opponents) and there are no raises. We label that the Hold’em Caveat.
To further explain this point, using the Hold’em Algorithm from an early position: King-10 usually is not playable – whether or not suited. Being suited adds just one point to the algorithm score – not enough to make it playable from an early position, before the flop.
In middle or late positions, that same King-10 is readily playable whether or not suited. Being suited adds a tiny bonus (two points) to the value of that hand. Best advice: Play those two suited cards because their rank and your position give you a score that satisfies the Hold’em Algorithm criteria.
So many poker players make the mistake of playing a suited hand even when their hole cards are low in rank, and regardless of position. That decision is highly unlikely to lead to a winning hand.
If you are in the Big Blind and there is no raise, it’s OK to see the flop for free. Never refuse a free card. Unless your two-hole cards satisfy the Hold’em Algorithm criteria, it is a mistake to call pre-flop simply because they are suited. Invest your chips to see the flop only if your card ranks and position meet the Hold’em Algorithm criteria – whether or not suited.