Suited connectors are some of the most fun hands in hold’em to play. Playing them well requires an understanding of implied odds, semi-bluffing, and river scenarios, since you’ll sometimes reach the river with nothing and have to decide whether to bluff or give up on your hand. For the sake of discussion, we’ll consider suited connectors (and suited-gappers) to be hands containing no aces or face cards.

The first time you’ll need to consider your implied odds with a suited connector is before flop. It’s common to see players over-estimate their implied odds with a suited connector pre-flop and end up paying too much of their stack in order to see the first three community cards. Suited-connectors can be good hands to three-bet light with, because you’ll often flop hands with decent equity that you can semi-bluff with.

Whether you should call or three bet with a suited connector depends on your opponent (or opponents), stack sizes, and the table dynamics. If the play at the table is aggressive and you’re likely to face a three-bet behind you, just calling with a suited connector becomes less appealing. And if the player you’re targeting is going to call with a high percentage of hands pre-flop and call down often post flop, then they aren’t a great target for three-bets. But if your opponent is the type to over-value his holdings and demonstrates bad hand reading skills, then he’s a good target to call against while holding suited connectors.

If you’ve decided to call or re-raise pre-flop, you’ll often need to semi-bluff after the flop is dealt. As always, you’re looking for situations where you have a strong amount of equity, but a weak amount of showdown value. If you flop an enormous draw and your opponent bets into you, your hand may be worth a raise (and when stacks are shorter, your goal should be to get all-in by making the last raise). If you flop a draw with a moderate amount of outs, it’s more likely that you should call if he bets into you, with the intention of bluffing later streets if you believe your opponent is weak, or if a scare card lands that you can represent. And if you flop a weak draw that still has equity to a strong hand — such as a gut-shot straight draw — but aren’t receiving correct pot-odds to call, it may be correct to raise the flop as a bluff, with the intention of shutting down if you face further aggression.

Of course, you won’t always complete your draw by the river. When you get to the river holding a suited connector that’s merely a busted draw, you’ll essentially have zero showdown value and need to decide whether bluffing is worthwhile. If your opponent has taken a line that represents having showdown value himself, it’s unlikely you should bluff if obvious draws on the board miss, but if you think your opponent doesn’t have much, or if a scare card comes that you can plausibly represent with the line you’ve taken, then you should definitely consider trying to win the pot with a bet. Just remember to size your bet in such a way that it’s believable that you have the hand you’re representing otherwise you may as well hand over your chips.

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