Dealing With Unsuited Connectors
A lot of texas holdem poker players that I have played with are convinced that most unsuited connectors are worth playing, simply for the potential of hitting a straight. Suited connectors are an entirely different story, since players seem to be blind to any sort of strategy by the potential for a flush.
Too often I see players unselectively throwing their money into the pot on unsuited connectors as low as 7-8, hoping for the 6-9-10 or some other variation of a possible straight. Not only are the odds against such a flop, the straight wouldnt be powerful enough to even worth risking your chips on.
Since straight draws have a much lower potential of winning the hand than flush draws, players must remain highly selective when deciding which hands to play out. Typically, players get so wrapped up in figuring out how likely it is that the cards that they are chasing will hit to stop and make a few mental checks.
First of all, the most important question to ask yourself when dealing with your unsuited connectors is, how powerful are my cards?. In other words, if you ended up hitting your straight, would it be the most powerful straight on the board? If you cannot confidently answer yes to this question, then it is most likely a waste of your time and money to stick it out and see the next few cards.
The fact that your cards are unsuited and you are chasing a straight makes your hand considerably weaker their suited counterparts, meaning that you should not settle for low cards. It is completely necessary to wait for top connectors (AK, AQ, KQ, etc.). If you are an intelligent enough poker player and wait for cards like these before throwing your money in, you are still in the running even if you dont hit a straight or a straight draw. The cards are high enough that it may be possible to still win the hand.
Secondly, ask yourself how far you plan on going into the hand if you dont hit your straight or at least a straight draw with the flop. This is another good determination of the strength of your hand. If your hand is strong enough that you would still be inclined to keep on playing even if the cards necessary for a straight or straight draw did not flop, then it is most likely worth your money to see the next three cards.
However, if you are only playing your hand in case of the off-chance that you may see some connected cards, then it should be fairly obvious that your hand is not worth holding onto and should be folded.
In determining this, it should not be forgotten that other players at the table may be having to think about similar things, but perhaps under slightly different conditions.
If the player next to you is having to make these same mental notes regarding his suited connectors, then it will be even more important that you only play the hand if your cards are strong enough to possibly win without the help of other connected cards that may or may not flop.
Hopefully, these rather basic strategies should lead to some much smarter playing on your part. Following the above guidelines should lead to more situations in which you are likely to win when you are dealt unsuited connectors. If you do flop your straight or even a straight draw, slow playing is usually less desirable than simply betting hard. Straights are often outmatched by the end of the hand, so it is advantageous to get as many players out of the hand as early as possible when you hold the straight.