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Playing Suited Cards in Texas Holdem

The biggest mistake that losing poker players make is playing too many hands. In Texas Hold'em, your position will be a determining factor in deciding which hands to play. When you are inBill Burton

Bill Burton is the author of Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold'em and 1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets. Besides writing for the Casino Gambling site, Bill writes for several national gaming publications including The Southern California Gaming Guide, Midwest Gaming and Travel, The Tunica Insider, The Crapshooter Newsletter. Bill is also an instructor for Golden Touch and teaches dice control at seminars around the country.
  Bill's website is  early position, you have a distinct disadvantage because you have no idea what the players acting after you will do. It is possible that the pot could be raised and re-raised after you enter the hand. For this reason, you need to have a much stronger hand if you want to play from early position.

The biggest mistake that I see players make in Texas Hold’em is playing two suited cards from any position. These novice players are placing too much value on the cards just because they are the same suit. A player who would not play a hand 2-6 off suit will suddenly play it from early position just because the cards are the same suit. They think that they will make a flush more often than they actually will

The truth is that in Texas Hold’em you cannot play any two suited cards from any position if you expect to be a consistent winner. Part of playing Winning Poker knows about odds and probability. Let’s take a look at a few cold facts concerning the realities of a flush draw.

Starting Suited

Getting two suited cards as a starting hand is fairly common. The probability of being dealt two suited cards is 23.58% which means those who like to play ASAP will have plenty of chances to enter the pot. Completing your flush is a lot more difficult. [1]

The Flop

The probability of flopping three of you suit giving you a complete flush is .842%. The odds against you are 118:1.

The probability of flopping two of your suit for a four flush is 10.944 %.

The odds are 8:1 against you.
The probability of only flopping one of your suits is 41.6%.
The odds are 1.4:1.
The Turn

If you have a four flush after the flop, the probability of making a flush on the turn or river is 34.97%.

The Odds against you are 1.86:1.
The River

If you have a four-flush after the turn the probability of making a flush on the river 19.6%.

The odds against you are 4.1:1

Turn and River Runner- Runner

If you flop only one of your suit, the probability of hitting your suit on the turn and the river is 1.7%.

The odds against you are 55:1.

Finally, for all the possibilities if you start suited and stay to see all seven cards (your two and the five board cards) the probability that you will make a flush is 5.77%.

The odds against you are 16.3:1.
A Bad Choice

Simply put for every time you play two suited cards you will only make your flush about once in 16 tries. If you play low suited cards, you still have to worry about a bigger flush beating you.

The reason you play your suited cards in late position when there is a lot of players in the pot is that you will then be getting the correct pot odds to justify attempting a flush draw. The money you win when you make your flush will offset the money you lose when you don’t make it. In a live game you can reach in you pocket if you go broke and buy more chips. In the long run, you will make money with flush draws as long as you get proper odds to try.

In a tournament, you have to be cautious because the chips you lose on a busted draw play can’t be replaced. When you go broke you go home. Even when you are getting correct odds, you can do serious damage to your tournament chip stack if you don’t make it. Playing every time you have suited cards without regards pot odds is suicide.

[1] I use the acronym ASAP in my log book to denote a player who will play Any Suited cards from Any Position. ASAP means fast and this is how you will lose your money if you continue to play and two suited cards.

Editor's note: If you are interested in some of the other major mistakes that are made when playing poker, especially online poker, be sure to check out Matthew Hilger's series Online Poker Mistakes.

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