I like getting dealt Jack-Nine suited.
It’s a very versatile hand because it has a ton of playability — with an above average chance to flop able to flop any kind of draw.
But Jack-Nine is also dominated by a large number of hands that your opponents can have in most situations, such as AJ or K9s, so you have to know when to slow down postflop to avoid flushing away money.
This article covers:
- How to Play Jack-Nine Suited Preflop
- 3 Tips for When You Miss the Flop (As the Preflop Raiser)
- 3 Tips for When You Hit the Flop
Let’s get started.
How to Play Jack-Nine Suited Preflop
Before jumping into postflop scenarios, let’s take a look at how to play Jack-Nine suited in a variety of common preflop situations.
Here are the table positions for your reference:
Jack-Nine suited is strong enough to be open-raised from any position at a 6-handed table. Limping this hand would only lead to smaller pots being won on average over the long run, and folding would mean passing up on a profitable raise.
At a 9-handed table, Jack-Nine should usually be folded from the first three positions (UTG, UTG+1 and UTG+2). That said, if you’re at a very soft table and the rake in your game isn’t super high, you can make an argument for raising J9s from these early positions.
Against a Raise
Your best play with J9s when facing a raise depends on your position and the position of the raiser. Let’s split this section into four groups:
1. When you’re in Middle Position or Cutoff. The proper strategy here is very simple: Fold. It simply isn’t strong enough to cold-call or 3-bet as a bluff.
2. From the Button. If the open-raiser is from any position other than the Cutoff, you should fold. But if the Cutoff is the one who opened the action, then you should 3-bet with Jack-Nine suited every time. The Cutoff’s opening range is wide enough to make this hand strong enough to 3-bet as a semi-bluff.
3. From the Small Blind. If you get dealt this hand from the Small Blind when facing a raise, you should fold if the open-raise is made from any position other than the Cutoff or the Button. Against these two late positions, you should 3-bet.
4. From the Big Blind. When you’re in the Big Blind facing a raise, you should vary your play based on the position of the raiser. If it was the Button who raised, you should 3-bet as a semi-bluff according to preflop solver outputs. Against all other positions, just call and take a flop.
Against a 3-Bet
Jack-Nine suited is not a great hand with which to call a 3-bet since it is so often dominated by better Jx and 9x hands, which will lose you a lot of money when you hit a pair. Plus, it doesn’t have the same playability that Jack-Ten suited or other similar suited connectors.
For these reasons, you should only call a 3-bet with this hand when you’ve raised from the Cutoff, the Button, or the Small Blind. Even then, it’s pretty close in most spots. If you feel more comfortable letting it go, that’s a fine approach.
Against a 4-Bet
The strategy here is simple: Fold. It is simply too weak to defend against 4-bets, and it’s actually dominated by a number of 4-bet bluff candidates your opponent may have.
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3 Tips for Playing Jack-Nine Suited When You Miss the Flop (As the Preflop Raiser)
Tip #1 – When you’re out of position on a low or middling board, be willing to check sometimes even if you have a draw
When the board comes something like 8♥ 7♣ 4♠ or T♠ 8♠ 5♦, it’s best to check with your Jack-Nine at least some of the time.
The reasoning behind this is that even though you have the range advantage on these types of flops, the nut advantage belongs to the cold-caller. This happens because his range is more condensed than yours, which means that sets and 2-pairs make up a larger portion of his overall range.
When the stack-to-pot ratio is high, the cold-caller can start raising at a very high frequency and put us in really tough spots on the turn and river. This can be avoided by checking.
Tip #2 – Always bet when you have a backdoor draw
When you have some type of backdoor equity like a backdoor straight or flush draw, then it’s best to bet. You can continue semi-bluffing when the turn gives you a real draw.
Tip #3 – When you’re out of position in 3-bet pots, you should bet frequently (even with no draw) on boards that are good for your range
I’m talking about boards such as A♦ T♠ 5♥, K♣ 8♦ 4♠, and Q♠ 7♣ 3♥.
On these boards, you (as the 3-bettor) have a significant range advantage due to an asymmetrical distribution of top pairs, two-pairs, and sets compared to the caller. When this happens, you should be always c-betting with Jack-Nine suited even if you don’t have a backdoor flush draw.
Just remember to bet fairly small (33%-40% of the pot) as it will be enough to punish the caller’s range with it.
3 Tips for Playing Jack-Nine Suited When You Hit the Flop
Tip #1 – When you flop top pair with the 9 in a single-raised pot, lean towards betting on the flop and checking on the turn
The 9-high top pair is very vulnerable, which makes betting on the flop preferable because of how much the hand benefits from protection.
Checking with Jack-Nine on a board like 974 would be a pretty bad mistake. The board is quite likely to shift the value of the hand from “great” to “meh” on any Ace, King, Queen, Ten, Eight, Six. If the board is two-tone, then it’s even worse because there are also flush-completing cards that can really hurt your hand’s value.
Once you bet on the flop, you can check on the turn. It’s unlikely you’d get three streets of value anyway, so you aren’t giving up much by doing so.
Tip #2 – When you flop top pair with the Jack in a single-raised pot, lean towards checking on the flop and betting on the turn
Compared to the 9-high top pair, the Jack-high top pair is significantly less vulnerable, with 2 fewer overcards that dethrone it from the top pair hand value on the turn. Not only that, but the kicker that it comes with is significantly weaker, which means building a pot with it right away is not as enticing.
Tip #3 – If you have top pair plus a flush draw, double barrel more often on the turn
Normally, the top pairs you hit with Jack-Nine are not strong enough to value bet with on all three streets, so you need to mix in some checks.
But when you have a flush draw to go with your top pair, this pushes the value of the hand just above the threshold that makes it worth betting. This is the case because the hand has an incentive to keep building the pot in case you hits a flush on the river.
You should be well-equipped to play this hand much closer to optimal in your next poker session.
Do you play this hand differently in any scenario? Please let me know why in the comment section down below!
If you want to learn how to play a similar-but-stronger starting hand, check out How to Play King-Ten Suited in Cash Games.
Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!
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