If you play Texas Hold’em either online or in live games in a bricks and mortar casino, you have probably played against many players who will play ANY two suited cards. Maybe you are such a player and you find yourself chasing after flushes when you really shouldn’t. Knowing when to play suited cards and when not to is really pretty simple without getting into pot odds too much. Not only do you need to know when to chase those flush draws yourself, you need to know how to punish other players who are playing flush draws against you.
One of the first rules of thumb to remember is QUIT PLAYING CARDS SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY ARE SUITED! I have seen players play hands like 2-3 suited and 9-2 suited at any point in a tournament. Hi-lo suited cards are another favorite of online players in particular. There are several basic problems with playing these types of hands, the worst of which is that they just generally lead to trouble.
For example, playing hands like 223 suited or 4-5 suited have the obvious dilemma of simply being low hands that can easily fall victim to higher flushes. Think about it. What is the best case that you can expect from such a hand?
The answer would be to flop a flush. The problem is, anyone with a higher flush has you beaten. You should not feel comfortable putting a large portion of your chips at risk with a 5-high flush. If you are, you need to get over it. Hands like this will only land you in trouble. The best course of action is to just stay away from them.
An exception may be late in a Sit n Go when you are on the Button with a big chip stack. If everyone else at the table has folded and you are just up against the Big Blind and Small Blind, chances are if you make your flush, your hand will hold up. This example would be in direct contrast to playing such a hand early on in a tournament with 3 or 4 other players already in the pot. There is just too much chance that your flush could be beaten by a higher one.
The basic problem with playing hi-lo suited cards is that you will pair up the high card more times than you will hit your flush. For many players, this is a hard hand to get away from when that high pair hits.
For example, you are in middle position with K-3 of spades. You have limped in and there are 3 other players still in the hand including the blinds. The Flop comes K-T-5 rainbow.
There are no flush possibilities here, but you have hit high pair. That’s the good news. The bad news is that you have a terrible kicker. You are already beaten by hands like A-K, K-Q, K-J, etc. All these hands are very likely to be hands that your opponents could be playing. If you bet this hand and get called or raised, you are going to have to give it up because you don’t have a strong kicker. For too many players, this is impossible to do and they end up losing their chip stack because of it. A better option is just to stay away from these types of situations, unless there is a compelling reason for playing the hand like position, point in the tournament, chip stack size. (big or small)
Keeping these things in mind, I would tend to play suited cards down to 8-7, but no lower unless there was a very good reason for doing so. I also recommend limping in with suited cards. Most times, in most games, you do not want to commit a large amount of chips to a flush draw. Having said that, there may be times in certain situations where to play these hands strongly to represent that you are playing an Ace or high pair just to keep your opponents off balance, but you need to have a good read of the table that you are at in order to make this judgment.
You also have to judge whether or not you are at the type of table that you can limp into a pot at all. Many times I will watch players get caught trying to limp in and they end up calling pre-flop raises that they should not have. If limping in doesn’t work, fold. Don’t throw good money after bad.
If you are at a cash table where large pre-flop raises are common place, don’t bother trying to limp in with suited cards. You will find yourself in over your head. Likewise, don’t try playing 8-9 suited in the latter stages of a Sit n Go where the short stacks are raising all-in and the big stacks are re-raising to make it tough on every one to try and steal the blinds. You will just be wasting your money. If you are playing suited cards, other than A-K or A-Q,etc then you need to pick situations where you will have some chance of success, not times where you are setting yourself up to throw away chips or end up in a hand where you have more money committed to the pot than you should.