Overvaluing suited hole cards in Texas Holdem

So, you’re new to the game of Texas Holdem. You know what hands beat what and you feel that you have a grasp for the game. You go online or to the local casino and find a game.

You pull up a seat and get dealt some cards. You look down and your eyes widen. You have two cards of the same suit, and we all know that not many hands beat a flush. You either call the big blind or the small raise before you in order to see the flop, but you may already be in for big trouble.

The problem with suited cards is that flushes do not happen all that often. That is why they are where they are in the list of hand rankings. If you hold suited cards you only have roughly a 6.5% (14.38-to-1) chance of making a flush. That 6.5% is assuming you see the hand all the way to the end, even after catching only one card of your suit on the flop. To catch 2 cards of your suit on the flop you have a 10.944% (8.14-to-1) chance. To catch a flush on the flop you have a measly 0.842% (117.76-to-1) chance.

Another thing to keep in mind is that one flush can beat another flush. For example, if you hold a 6 and 5 of diamonds and the K Q and J of diamonds are on the board, you do not automatically win or split the pot. If I hold the Ace and any other diamond I would win. Kickers play in flushes. The player with the higher flush card in his hand wins ties if two players hold a flush. Another example would be the board showing A K 7 of hearts. If you had the 9 and 8 of hearts, but I had the Q and 6 of hearts, I would win since my Q is higher then any of your cards.

Let’s look at an example of playing suited cards gone badly. Say you have a 7 and a 5 of clubs and one club hits on the flop. You call a raise in order to see the turn. So what happens if a club comes on the turn? Well, the raiser will probably bet again, and it will cost you more money to see the river. If you fold, you’ve thrown money away trying to catch cards on the turn and river. In a case where you feel the desire to play two cards such as the 7 and 5 of clubs, you must understand your chances of making a flush and be willing to throw them away if two clubs do not hit on the flop. Chasing after the turn and river is not a profitable way to play poker. It will cost you money.

Another problem with playing suited cards is forgetting why you have played them in the first place. Say you hold the A and 5 of hearts. The flop brings A J 2 with one card being a heart. Suddenly you have the top pair and there is a raise in front of you that you are thinking about calling. But wait, why was it you were in this hand again? You were looking for hearts. Now you have top pair but with a very weak kicker. There are plenty of cards that your opponent could have that would beat your 5 kicker if they also held an A. More times then not if you play this hand you will not achieve a flush, nor will you win with the A and weak kicker. That means you will lose money in the long term and not be a profitable player.

The kinds of flush possible hands that you want to start with are Ax (x meaning any other card), Kx, or what is known as suited connectors. Suited connectors are two cards of the same suit that fall in numerical order, such as 4 and 5 or Q and J. Playing suited connectors serves two purposes, to allow for the flush and to allow for a straight. It increases the likelihood of holding a winning hand.

Suited hole cards are to be treated as such, two cards that could possibly make a flush. You must evaluate your position on the table to see how many chips it will cost you to see a flop. Once you have seen that flop, you must be willing to fold them if your hand does not improve. If you flop two cards of the same suit (known as a 4 flush) you need to roughly determine how many chips it will cost to see the turn and then the river in case the turn does not bring the flush. You will need to take into consideration your table position and the aggressiveness and betting patterns of your opponents. When there are two cards to come, you have a 35% (1.86-to-1) chance to hit the flush. With one card to come you have a 24.32% (3.11-to-1) chance. If you are getting the proper odds for a call or raise then make the play. If not, lay them down and look to the next hand.