eight-six suited

How to Play Eight-Six Suited in Cash Games

Eight-Six suited is a fun hand to peek down at.

But many players make the mistake of playing this suited one-gapper either too aggressively or too passively.

That’s why, in this article, I will cover how to play Eight-Six suited preflop and on the flop.

Let’s dive in!

How to Play Eight-Six Suited Before the Flop

Unless otherwise noted, all of this preflop advice assumes you’re playing in a cash game with no ante and have no reads on your opponents.

These are the positions that will be referenced in this section:

positions for ace queen 3-betting reference

Unopened Pots

Although tempting, you should only open-raise with Eight-Six suited if you’re in the Cutoff, on the Button, or in the Small Blind. It is simply too weak to raise from earlier positions.

If you’re in a very soft game or if there’s an ante in play, you can justify playing it from the Hijack as well.

Against a Raise

You should only play Eight-Six suited against a raise when you are in the Big Blind. It should simply be folded from all other positions.

In most games, you can always call from the Big Blind with Eight-Six suited. In some tougher games, like 500NL online or higher, you can mix in some 3-bets with it at a low frequency (vs a Cutoff or Button open).

Against a 3-Bet

There are only 2 positional matchups in which you should call with Eight-Six suited against a 3-bet. You can consider calling a 3-bet with Eight-Six suited…

  1. When you’ve raised from the Button and the Small Blind 3-bets
  2. When you’ve raised from the Small Blind and the Big Blind 3-bets

Even in these spots, Eight-Six suited is marginally profitable at best. If your opponent 3-bets with a relatively tight range, then folding is best.

3 Tips for Playing Eight-Six Suited When You Miss the Flop 

You’re usually not going to flop a pair with Eight-Six suited. These tips will help you navigate those situations.

Tip #1: Stronger draws warrant a more aggressive approach than weaker draws 

The stronger the draw, the more aggressively you should play it.

Specifically, combo draws, flush draws, and open-ended straight draws warrant more aggression than gutshot straight draws and backdoor draws.

These strong draws have a lot of equity — i.e. a strong chance of becoming the best hand by the river. By playing these draws aggressively, you also balance out the strongest hands in your range with which you want to build the pot ASAP.

For example, say you raised from the Button with 8s 6s and get called by the Big Blind. The board comes Kd 9s 7s.

On this board, you will want to bet for value with hands like Pocket Aces, Pocket Kings, Pocket Nines, Ace-King, etc. Strong draws like 8s 6s act as the perfect hands to balance out your range. That way you aren’t only betting with strong made hands.

Tip #2: Backdoor flush and straight draws can be effective bluffing hands

Relying solely on the strongest draws to balance your value hands isn’t always feasible. On some flops, there simply are no such draws. That is where double backdoor draw hands can come into play.

For instance, suppose you raise from the Button with 8c 6c and get called by the Big Blind. The flop comes Kc 7s 2d.

In this scenario, c-betting is advisable. You have a bunch of runner-runner straight and flush possibilities, plus outs to make middle pair. Bluffing is a viable strategic choice with this hand and others like it.

Tip #3: If you are playing against a calling station, don’t bluff with backdoor draws

This is an important caveat to tip #2.

You have to be mindful of who you are playing against. Bluffing with backdoor draws is only effective against players who are willing to fold their very weak hands.

If you are facing a calling station, then bluffing in the example from tip #2 has a negative expected value (EV). Just make sure you have reliable evidence that your opponent is a calling station before making this adjustment.

3 Tips for Playing Eight-Six Suited When You Hit the Flop

Tip #1: Be aggressive when you hit two pair or better

You entered the pot before the flop with a marginally profitable hand. Now you’ve caught some luck and flopped a strong hand (two pair, trip, straight, flush, etc).

Don’t make the mistake of playing these hands passively!

The best way to make money in poker is by fast-playing your best hands. Setting the trap can be tempting. But generally speaking, you should build the pot as fast as possible when you have a strong hand.

I’ll explain an exception to this in tip #3.

Tip #2: Keep middle pairs in small pots

When you have a marginal hand like a middle pair, it’s best to opt for a conservative approach.

As the preflop raiser, you should often elect to check instead of bet. As the preflop caller, you should usually call instead of raise.

For instance, suppose you raise from the Button with 8h 6h and the Big Blind calls. The flop comes Jd 8d 5c.

In this spot, it’s advisable to check back for pot control rather than bet.

Tip #3: Slow-play smartly

While fast-playing strong hands is usually best, there are instances where employing a slow-playing strategy can be the optimal choice.

For example, say you’ve raised from the Cutoff with 8c 6c and the Button calls. The flop comes Kc 7c 3c.

In this spot, it is probably best to slow-play your flopped flush some of the time. When your opponent calls on the Button, they will have a lot of suited hands in their range, meaning they could have a higher flush. Because of this, you want to check with some of your flushes so that you can still have strong hands in your checking range.

Another scenario where slow-playing is appropriate is when you flop two pair on a straight-y board.

Consider the same preflop scenario, but now the flop comes 8h 7h 6s. Your two pair is now vulnerable, being behind several straights your opponent could have like T9-suited and 54-suited. Plus, many potential turns and rivers can put your hand in a brutal spot.

This leaves your hand with only moderate strength currently and poor prospects for improvement. It’s a situation where being cautious is wise — unless you improve to a full house!

Final Thoughts

There you go! You now have all the basic knowledge to play Eight-Six suited better than 95% of the players you will face.

If you have any questions or feedback leave me a comment in the section down below!

Want to get some free advice for playing Eight-Six suited (and all other suited hands) when you flop a flush draw?

Check out What is a Flush Draw in Poker & How Should You Play Them?

Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!

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About the Author
Dan B.

Dan B.

Online grinder aspiring to reach the highest stakes and crush the toughest games. I'm available for quick strategy questions and hourly coaching -- reach out to me at [email protected].

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