Maybe it’s just me, but I always find flushes more exciting than straights… Of course, I’m more than happy to see any draw hit, but there’s something about seeing my wished for flush actually appearing that I find more thrilling. I’d guess this is the same for most players.
With this in mind, if we love flushes so much, it follows we’ll get a little bit excited when we’re dealt suited cards. Suddenly the image of a juicy flush starts racing through our mind, soon followed by all those chips that could accompany it. We don’t even have great cards but that doesn’t seem to water down our enthusiasm and eagerness to see that potentially magical Flop. We could have 2h 7h but…look – they’re BOTH hearts. How can we look at those shiny red hearts and not appreciate the joy they could bring? Hopefully, we can see the Flop at a bargain price but, if we end up having to pay a bit more than we should, it is a flush we’re seeking, after all, and flushes can win big…
And so goes the thinking of countless players just about every single time they see their hole cards and marvel at the sight of suited cards. And not only new and recreational online poker fans, but those with years of experience, too. We’ve all been guilty of this irrationality. It’s a ‘thing’ that we seem prone to doing, with all reasoning and logic going out of the window – a poker version of how we can start acting totally out of character when seeing a cute baby or a cuddly puppy up close.
But why all the fuss?
It’s not like suited hole cards is a rare sight! Indeed, in a typical session that lasts for just a few hours we’ll be dealt suited cards literally dozens of times! We’re not talking about spotting a rare butterfly or coming across a winning lottery ticket – it’s two cards of the same suit! And, to bring any dreamers even further back to reality, at a full table it’s quite normal that, when we’re getting all excited about our suited hand, someone else will be having exactly the same experience. That’s how ‘unspecial’ it is! Quite simply, the actual value of our hand is far more important than whether it’s suited. If we could choose between the aforementioned 7h 2h and, for example, 7c 8s, the latter hand is a far better prospect. If you feel like you’d prefer any suited hole cards, you need to unlearn that bad habit immediately.
If you’re still not convinced, read on… When we’re dealt suited cards, the Flop will serve us up a flush draw less than 11% of the time. When we do get this chance of going for a flush, we’ll hit by the River about 35% of the time. If, for example, someone has flopped a set, then we’re going to win the pot only around 25% of the time…
If we don’t flop a flush draw, we can expect to see a card of the desired suit appear over 40% of the time. Sounds promising in terms of leaving us still in the hunt to make our flush? Erm… no. There’s a measly 4% chance we’ll then make that lucky ‘runner-runner’ flush on Turn and River. Yet how many players, with those odds of around 22/1, will pay a premium to have a go?
What about flopping a flush?
Well, out of every 120 suited starting hands that you’re dealt, you can think yourself ‘lucky’ to have a strike rate of …. once. And what can we expect when this happens? The answer is not much. Even the most adventurous players are going to slam on the brakes when the Flop is all the same suit. And herein lies a nice slice of irony – those players who put way too much significance in suited hole cards and who make the mistake of going on expensive flush hunting trips can wait an eternity for a miracle Flop, only for the opposition to simply shut up shop because they’re seconds away from a brand new hand and see no point in taking an unnecessary risk! All that wait for nothing. And yet it can be even worse – anyone who is willing to commit could be ahead of us already, with a superior flush, or on course to beat us…
You’ve been warned!