If you’re looking for easy entertainment with chances to win, play online casino games. If you’re looking for a challenge, go for poker instead. There are decisions to be made in every street of every hand, beginning with the decision of whether to play your starting hand at all. Sometimes, the choice is clear. Pocket aces? It’s a good day to play. But a 7-2 offsuit? Junk it outright.
But sometimes the choice is less clear, as in the case of 10-9 suited. This combination of playing cards makes for a speculative hand that can earn you good money in cash games, but it can just as easily turn out to be a trap. It’s also a starting hand that you will be dealt frequently, so it’s just as well to have a strategy in place. Keep on reading for solid online poker tips on how to play 10-9 suited.
10-9 Suited 101
So you’re playing a game of Texas Hold’em online poker, and you’re dealt 10-9 suited. This is one of those starting hands that generate mixed feelings. It can draw to a straight or a flush, but even if it does, you’ll never have the nuts because there’s always another straight or flush combination that will be better than yours. At the same time, its potential value is too great to simply ignore. So you have to play it, but do so carefully. Don’t let it turn into a trap hand — the kind that can lose you a large pot because you’ve placed too much confidence in it. Carefully evaluate the situation before and after the flop and act accordingly.
Before the Flop
If the action folds to you and the pot is unopened, you can open-raise 10-9 suited from UTG+2 in a full-ring game or any position in a 6-max game.
Against a raise and depending on your position relative to your opponent, the main options are a three-bet or a fold. This is a great hand to three-bet with because it balances the upper end of your three-bet range. If you’re in the button or small blind, it’s good to three-bet against a raise from late position. Always defend the big blind against raises from opponents in middle or late position with a mix of calls and three-bets, except for the button (always three-bet).
When you’re out of position against a three-bet, it’s best to mix calling and folding, unless you’re in the small blind against the big blind (always call).
In position against a three-bet, you always call from the button or cutoff. Otherwise, you should fold.
Against a four-bet, go with a mix of calls and folds. The reason for mixing some folds in is to avoid becoming predictable and being exploited as a result. Otherwise, the hand is very playable, with good equity against four-betting ranges.
These are general guidelines, of course. Unlike casino table games, you’re up against other players, not the house. As a result, you should always adapt to your opponent’s strategy. If you know their four-betting range is super tight, for instance, it doesn’t make sense to call.
When You Miss the Flop
If you flop a draw, always be prepared to bluff. No matter whether it’s a gutshot, open-ended, flush, or combo draw, you should check-raise or bet every time. Not only is there a chance of hitting your draw, but these bluffs will also balance out your value hands.
You can also bluff with a backdoor flush or straight draw, for the same reasons.
If you miss the flop completely, but you were the preflop aggressor, your range is strong enough for you to follow up with a small c-bet on most boards.
When You Hit the Flop
If you connect with the board in a big way (two pair or better), check-raising is the way to go. You want to build the pot as quickly as possible on this street, and a check-raise is a great way to induce your opponent to make a contribution. If you’re in position, of course, it makes no sense to check back, so you have to bet.
If you find yourself with a middle or third pair in a single-raised pot, check back. You’ll want to play these mediocre hands passively in the hope of a cheap trip to showdown. But if the flop is 9 or 10 high and you have a top pair, be very aggressive. You have the advantage, but only for one street, as there are multiple overcards that devalue your hand on the turn or river. As a result, you should fire a big c-bet to eliminate the overcards from your opponent’s range. Bet 50–80% of the pot, and hopefully, your opponent will fold.
And if your opponent raises? Carefully evaluate any reads you have on them, because if they’re not bluffing, it’s time to walk away. Otherwise, you risk getting caught in a very expensive trap and bleeding money on later streets. This is no time for subtle poker tricks like floating.
Finally, remember that these guidelines are for cash games. In online poker tournaments, your goal isn’t to win cash pots but to survive until you reach the money. As a result, your poker tournament strategy is going to be different from your cash game approach. Folding, for example, has a positive expected value (EV) because it helps you to survive. In a cash game, folding simply means you don’t win anything.
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