Middling suited Aces are pretty strong hands.
You should often play a hand like A♠ 9♠ when it’s dealt to you, but it’s obviously not always strong enough to VPIP. The exact situations in which these hand types are worth playing, and how to maneuver with them postflop, is what I am going to cover in this article.
This will be the order of operations:
- How to Play A9-A6 Suited Preflop
- 3 Tips for When You Miss the Flop (As the Preflop Raiser)
- 3 Tips for When You Hit the Flop
Let’s dive in!
How to Play A9-A6 Suited Preflop
Let’s take a look at how to play these hands preflop first.
Middling suited Aces rank somewhere in the top 20% of starting hands. They’re good enough to be open-raised from any position at a 6-max table.
If you’re at a 9-handed table, you should only open-fold middling suited aces from the first position (UTG). From the next two positions (UTG+1 and +2), you should only open-raise with these hands around 50% of the time.
Against a Raise
Against an open-raise, things get a bit more nuanced.
When faced with a raise from one of the early positions (UTG through Hijack), you should fold A9s to A6s unless you are in the Big Blind. If you’re in the Big Blind, these hands are good enough to call since you are closing the action and already have 1 blind invested in the pot.
If your opponent is open-raises from either the Cutoff, Button, or Small Blind, then these hands jump up in value greatly. Here is how you should play in these spots:
- From the Button against the Cutoff: According to solvers, you should mix between calling and 3-betting with all middling suited aces.
- When you’re in the Small Blind against the Cutoff: You should 3-bet with A9s and folding the rest.
- From the Small Blind against the Button: You should 3-bet with A9-A7s and fold A6s.
- From the Big Blind against Cutoff/Button/Small Blind: You should always call against a raise.
Alright, onto the next part of the game tree.
Against a 3-Bet
When faced with a 3-bet, you should always fold these hands if you raised from the Hijack or earlier.
If you raised from the Cutoff, the Button, or the Small Blind, then you can consider continuing. Specifically:
- From the Cutoff, you should call with A9s against any 3-bet behind, and also with A8s against a Button 3-bet.
- If you face a 3-bet after raising from the Button or the Small Blind, always call with a middling suited ace.
One caveat here: if the player who 3-bets is extremely tight, you can consider folding even more often.
Against a 4-Bet
Faced with a 4-bet, the rule is simple: always fold.
Middling suited aces simply have too little equity and not enough playability to be profitable calls.
As for 5-bet bluff-shoving, there is a much better candidate: A5-suited, which has slightly better equity than A9s-A6s due to being able to make a straight using both cards. If you’re gonna 5-bet shove as a bluff, that have is a better choice.
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4 Tips for Playing When You Miss the Flop (As the Preflop Raiser)
Tip #1 – When you flop the nut flush draw, c-bet
When deciding which flush draws you should check back with, you should lean towards doing so with the weakest ones, not the strongest ones.
The logic here is simple: you are incentivized to build the pot when you have a very strong draw, which still gets called by all of the weaker flush draws.
Tip #2 – On flops with three broadway cards in single raised pots in position, always c-bet
Triple broadway flops like K♠ Q♣ J♥ are great for you as the preflop raiser because you have the nut advantage on them. In other words, you will have a ton of strong hands (many more than your opponent).
You have all the flopped sets in your range, and the preflop caller usually won’t because she would have 3-bet with KK/QQ/JJ before the flop. You will also usually have more two pairs and a few more suited straight combinations.
Due to all of these factors, the preflop raiser should employ a highly aggressive c-betting strategy on the flop, which includes betting with these middling suited Aces.
Tip #3 – In single raised pots in position, check back when you have a gutshot or open-ender
There is a problem with betting A9-A6 suited on boards such as 7♣ 5♣ 4♥ or 9♦ 7♦ 5♠. To understand the problem, think through the possible outcomes when you bet:
- Many worse hands will fold
- Quite a few better Ace-high hands will call (like the ones that have two overcards and a backdoor flush draw)
- All paired hands will call, including the ones that contain an Ace (which will cost you a lot of money if the turn is an Ace)
You are going to run into some very unfavorable situations on future streets if you bet (see: reverse implied odds), so you should simply check.
Tip #4 – When in position in a 3-bet pot, you should always c-bet
After 3-betting in position and getting called, you will almost always have a range advantage. This is because your opponent will almost always 4-bet with the very strongest hands (though some people with try to trap you).
For this reason, you want to always be c-betting for a small size after getting called. The only boards where you will need to slow down are the connected middling-low boards such as 987, 876, 875, etc. On these, the preflop caller has a nut advantage and can punish your unmade hands by check-raising at a high frequency.
3 Tips for Playing When You Hit the Flop
Tip #1 – Play cautiously in multiway pots
Flopping top pair is great in a heads-up pot, but it drop offs big time in value when 3 or more players saw the flop. It shrivels up even more when a bet goes in on the flop and 3 or more players continue to the turn.
This happens because, in multiway pots, the burden of defense is dispersed among all players, which means each individual player should fold more often than they should in a heads-up pot. So, when they call, they have significantly stronger ranges than they would have in a heads-up pot.
Tip #2 – When you flop top pair with the low card in a heads-up pot, you should always c-bet
When you flop a top pair with the low card, it means that you have a vulnerable top pair with top kicker. You have a strong hand at the moment, but there is a high chance an overcard will come on the turn and/or river.
To minimize the impact of your opponent’s overcards, it’s best to bet right away to force folds (or light calls) from those hands. On top of that, if your opponent also has top pair, you have them dominated and they are sure to call at least one bet, so you should pump money into the pot right away.
Tip #3 – When you flop a top pair with the Ace in a heads-up pot, lean towards checking
In contrast to hitting top pair with the low card, hitting a top pair with the Ace means that you are now holding a medium top pair that is not vulnerable. In other words, your kicker sucks and there are no overcards that can come.
This is usually a “two street value hand”, meaning that you can’t value bet three times and expect to get called by worse hands (unless your opponent is a big time calling station). When this is the case, checking back on the flop is a good choice.
With these medium suited aces, you need to be sure to avoid overplaying them preflop and postflop. They are decent, medium-strength hands with which you are looking to mostly win medium-sized pots — unless of course you make the nut flush!
That’s all for this article. I hope you enjoyed it and that you learned something new. I am looking forward to reading your feedback and replying to any questions you might have!
Want to learn how to play another specific type of preflop hand? Read How to Play Queen-Jack Suited in Cash Games.
Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!
Note: Ready to join 5,000+ players currently upgrading their No Limit Hold’em skills? Crush your competition with the expert strategies you will learn inside the Upswing Lab training course. Learn more now!