Defining importance of suited hole cards in hold’em poker

GamingToday.com is an independent sports news and information service. GamingToday.com has partnerships with some of the top legal and licensed sportsbook companies in the US. When you claim a bonus offer or promotion through a link on this site, Gaming Today may receive referral compensation from the sportsbook company. Although the relationships we have with sportsbook companies may influence the order in which we place companies on the site, all reviews, recommendations, and opinions are wholly our own. They are the recommendations from our authors and contributors who are avid sports fans themselves.

For more information, please read How We Rank Sportsbooks, Privacy Policy, or Contact Us with any concerns you may have.

Gaming Today is licensed and regulated to operate in AZ, CO, CT, IN, LA, MI, NJ, NY, PA, TN, and VA.

It’s always nice to look down at your hole cards and see they are the same suit. Being dealt two cards of the same suit happens quite frequently – almost 1 out of 4 hands. 

Suited hole cards are so appealing, and it certainly adds to the value of your hand; but just how much? How often do you see players paying to see the flop with any two suited cards? In low-limit games, some will even call a raised bet cold. Are they making a mistake?

Odds & Consequences

Starting with two unpaired suited hole cards, there are several ways your hand could improve on the flop. Of course, it would be great if you flopped three more of your suit for the flush, but that’s over a 100-to-1 long shot.

For that matter, you can expect to catch two more cards of your suit only about 1 of 9 times. That’s still a long shot but could be worth the try. Once you have four-to-the-flush, with two shots (the turn and the river) to connect, then the card odds are less than 2-1 against. 

With two or more opponents in the pot, you are getting Positive Expectancy. The more chips going into the pot in that case, the more you stand to win. Even if you fail to connect on the turn, you are still getting decent card odds (about 4-1) against making your flush on the river. 

As long as the pot odds are more than 4-1, you would be correct in calling a bet to see the river. With unpaired hole cards, the odds are about 2-1 you will not improve your hand on the flop. If your hand does improve, more likely it will be to pair one of your hole cards. That will happen 1 of 3 times. 

That’s a strong argument for playing only high cards when they are suited. At least one should be an A, K, or Q. Hi-Lo hands (one high card and the other a small card) are too easily dominated. (See GT ad)

If you happen to flop a match to your high card, another player who also holds the same high card, most likely has you outkicked. And that could be very costly as you bet or call all the way to the river only to lose because of your low kicker.

Suited connectors have value primarily because they offer two cards in sequence, open at both ends, with the potential of making a straight. Of course, a straight flush would be even better! Suited connectors are quite rare – only 3.6% of your hands. (See [email protected]).

What about A-Rag?

We all know many players love an Ace in the hole, and will stay to see the flop with Any-Ace, even an Ace with a small card (7 or lower) – an A-rag. That’s a poor investment. 

On the other hand, you could make an exception if they are suited. A-rag suited is playable if the situation meets the criteria of our Hold’em Caveat (a multi-way pot with no raises). Then you are hoping to catch two more cards of your suit to make a four-to-the-nut flush. 

Better yet would be to flop three of your suit, but that’s such a huge long shot!

Bottom line: Being suited adds relatively little value to your hole cards – perhaps a few percentage points. Much more important is the rank of your hole cards. Being connected would add much more value. 

It would be a mistake to invest to see the flop based only on the fact your hole cards are suited. We do make an exception when you have A-rag suited – subject to the Hold’em Caveat. We recommend you use the Hold’em Algorithm to make that decision.

“The Engineer,” noted author and poker teacher in greater Los Angeles, is a member of the Seniors Poker Hall of Fame. Contact George at [email protected].

 GamingToday on Facebook      and         GamingToday on Twitter

About the Author

George Epstein

A retired engineer, George Epstein is the author of “The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!” and “Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision.” He teaches poker courses and conducts a unique Poker Lab at the Claude Pepper Senior Center under the auspices of the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks and at West Los Angeles College.

Get connected with us on Social Media

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]