Low Suited Kings don’t get talked about often, but there are many different situations in which you should play these hands.
In this article, I am going to cover:
- How to Play Suited King-X Hands Preflop
- 3 Tips for Playing Suited King-X When You Miss the Flop (as the Preflop Raiser)
- 3 Tips for Playing Suited King-X When You Hit the Flop
Let’s get started!
Note: This article is about playing the unconnected suited Kings (K2s-K8s). Of course, hands like King-Ten suited and King-Queen suited are also suited Kings, but those are much stronger hands that warrant their own articles.
How to Play Low Suited King-X Hands Preflop
Before jumping into postflop scenarios, let’s take a look at how to play these suited King-high hands in a variety of common preflop situations.
Here are the table positions for your reference:
The low Kx-suited hands are not strong enough to raise from any position from UTG through the Lojack.
From the Hijack, you can start raising with K8-suited and K7-suited.
From the Cutoff, Button, and Small Blind, you can raise all suited Kings.
The main reason that you can raise with these hands more frequently from the late positions is that there are fewer players that can 3-bet. This is important because any time you face a 3-bet with these hands, you will be forced to fold away your equity.
Against a Raise
Your play when facing a raise should depend on your position and the position of the raiser. Let’s split this section into two groups:
1. When you’re UTG+1 through Small Blind. If you face a raise when seated in one of these positions, King-X suited hands are simply too weak to play. You should always fold them right away.
2. From the Big Blind. When you’re in the Big Blind facing a raise, you should only call depending on who open-raised and how big they raised.
If UTG (in 6-max) raises to 2.5 big blinds, then K8s-K6s are always profitable calls, while K5s-K2s are mixed between calling and folding (roughly 50% of the time you should call). If your opponent raises to 3 big blinds, then you should always fold K5s-K2s and only call with K8s-K6s around half the time.
Editor’s note: Half of a big blind might seem like a very small difference, but it has a big impact on your pot odds and decreases the number of hands you can play profitably. If your opponent uses a raise size bigger than 3 big blinds, you should play even tighter.
When the player in the Hijack raises to 2.5 big blinds, then K8s-K5s are always profitable calls, and K4s-K2s should only be called around half the time. If she raises to 3 big blinds, then you should only call with K8s-K6s and fold K5s-K2s.
If the Cutoff raises to 2.5 big blinds, then you should always call with K8s-K2s. But if he raised to 3 big blinds, then you should only call with K8s-K5s and fold K3s-K2s.
Against a Button or a Small Blind raise of 2.5 or 3 big blinds, you should call all suited King-X hands.
Another editor’s note: This advice assumes you are in a heads-up pot, meaning no players called in between you and the raiser. If an early or middle position player raises and someone calls in between, you should play slightly tighter in general (and that includes folding more suited King-X hands).
Against a 3-Bet
In highly raked games (which is most poker games, including live games and low stakes online), preflop solvers show that these hands should be folded every time against a 3-bet.
There is a huge penalty (in the form of rake) for calling a 3-bet and seeing a flop when most games have a “no flop, no drop” rule in place. This is why decent hands such as these should still hit the muck against a 3-bet.
If you’re playing in low rake games, then you can start defending with K8s-K6s some of the time when you are on the Button or in the Small Blind. You can also consider 4-betting with these hands at a small frequency.
3 Tips for Playing Low King-X Suited When You Miss the Flop (As the Preflop Raiser)
Tip #1 – When you flop a flush draw, always bet
King-high flush draws are very strong bluffing hands that will often (~36% of the time) improve to become flushes by the river. You want to balance out your value hands with hands like these so that your opponent is always left guessing.
Depending on the specific board, you may also have an overcard, which makes these even better bluffing hands.
Tip #2 – When you flop a straight draw, always bet
Very similar to the last tip, having a straight draw on the flop means that you will have a good chance of improving to a straight on the turn or on the river (16% if you have a gutshot straight draw, 32% if you have an open-ended straight draw).
These medium-low King-high hands don’t have a lot of showdown value and can make a lot of better K-high hands (and sometimes A-high hands) fold on the flop, which is a great added benefit that incentivizes bluffing with them right away.
Tip #3 – When you have a backdoor flush or straight draw, you should fire a bet very often
When you have some type of backdoor equity, like a backdoor straight draw or backdoor flush draw, then it’s best to bet. This is because it will enable you to continue semi-bluffing when the turn gives you a real draw. If you completely brick on the turn, you can give up.
3 Tips for Playing Low King-X Suited When You Hit the Flop
Tip #1 – When you flop top pair with the lower card in a single-raised pot, lean towards betting on the flop and checking on the turn
Example: You have K♠ 8♠ on an 8♥ 6♥ 3♣ flop.
The top pair that you’ve hit is very vulnerable, which makes betting more favorable because your hand benefits from protection.
Related article: How Equity Denial Influences Almost Every Decision.
Checking with a hand like K8-suited on a board like 863 wouldn’t be the best play, given that the board will shift the value of the hand from strong to medium on any Ace, Queen, Jack, Ten, Nine, Seven, Five, and Four. If the board is two-tone, then it’s even worse because there are additional flush-completing cards that would be very bad to see fall.
Tip #2 – When you flop top pair with the King in a single-raised pot, lean towards checking on the flop and betting on the turn
Contrary to the low top pairs, the King top pair is significantly less vulnerable with only one possible overcard that can dethrone it from being top pair 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. Thus, delaying your value bet until the turn and then barreling on most rivers is best.
This has a nice secondary upside of underrepresenting your hand, which may induce a bluff from your opponent.
Tip #3 – If you have a top pair plus a flush draw, double-barrel more often on the turn.
Normally the top pairs you hit with K8s-K2s will not be strong enough to value bet on all three streets, hence the previous two tips. For this reason, you normally want to check on either the flop or turn to keep the size of the pot in line with your hand.
But when you have a flush draw to go with your top pair, this increases the value of the hand, making it strong enough to bet for value. This is the case because you have an incentive to keep building the pot in case you hit a flush on the river.
K8s-K2s are nifty hands that will add a bit of deception to your strategy in a bunch of situations — assuming you play them well. And every once in a while, they hit very strong hands with which you can stack your opponent.
Do you approach playing low and medium King-high suited any differently? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you have a particular hand you’d like to see covered on this blog, feel free to let me know.
Here’s what I suggest reading next (it’s a bit more advanced): How to Play Flush Draws on the Flop & Turn (As the Preflop Caller).
Until next time, good luck, grinders!