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How to Play Eight-Seven Suited in Cash Games

Eight-Seven suited is a crowd favorite among poker players…

…but most don’t play it correctly. Players see this nice-looking hand and often choose to play it in the wrong situation or in the wrong way.

To help you avoid mistakes with Eight-Seven suited, this quick guide covers:

  • How to play Eight-Seven suited in common preflop situations
  • 3 tips for playing Eight-Seven suited when you miss the flop
  • 3 tips for playing Eight-Seven suited when you hit the flop

Let’s get started.

How to Play Eight-Seven Suited Preflop

First, let’s run through how to play this suited connector in every common scenario before the flop. All of the advice in this section assumes that stacks are around 100 big blinds.

Position is key when it comes to playing Eight-Seven suited. Here are the table positions for your reference:

positions for ace queen 3-betting reference

Unopened Pots

Eight-Seven suited is pretty strong relative to all poker hands. It ranks within the top 20% of all starting hands overall.

Due to it’s great postflop potential, you can profitably open-raise with Eight-Seven suited from any position in a 6-max game when the action folds to you.

If you’re playing in 9-handed games, it’s better to exercise caution from the three earliest positions (UTG, UTG+1 and UTG+2). If you’re at a very soft and passive table, you might be able to get away with raising it. But at many tables that will be a sub-optimal play with potential profit loss.

Limping is a bad decision with every hand. You invite players to come along profitably with many hands, lowering your expected value (EV).

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Against a Raise

Position is even more critical when playing against a raise with Eight-Seven suited. You get to play it more often versus the later positions, and it helps to be in the later positions (or the Big Blind) yourself. 

Let’s get specific.

When you’re seated in the Hijack position or earlier, you should always fold Eight-Seven suited against a raise. It is slightly too weak to play from these positions, but it is not a massive mistake if you choose to. If you do decide to play it, you should probably be 3-betting. Calling when there are many players yet to act behind you is something that should be done sparingly.

When you’re seated in the Cutoff, you should usually fold Eight-Seven suited against a raise. If the player who raised is worth targeting for some reason, you can consider mixing in some calling or 3-betting. Just be careful calling if the players behind you are aggressive (because they may squeeze you out).

When you’re on the Button, all three options are on the table depending on the raiser’s position and tendencies, as well as the players behind. As a baseline strategy, I recommend only 3-betting this hand when it was the Cutoff who raised (and otherwise folding). However, if the player who raised and/or the players behind are worth targeting, you can adjust from that baseline strategy (either by 3-betting or calling).

When you’re in the Small Blind, you should always fold Eight-Seven suited against a raise. It really sucks to be first to act postflop, so you have to play extra tight from the Small Blind.

Playing from the Big Blind against a raise is somewhat complicated, so it gets its own section.

Defending Your Big Blind with Eight-Seven Suited

When you’re in the Big Blind, you should always continue (by calling or 3-betting) with Eight-Seven suited because you are closing the action with a big discount. The better option between calling and 3-betting depends on the position that you are facing.

Sometimes, playing a mixed strategy between calling and 3-betting is best. Other times, you should always 3-bet.

As you probably expect by now, the best option depends on your opponent’s position:

  • Against the Lojack — who has a fairly tight range — you should mostly call and occasionally (25% of the time) 3-bet with Eight-Seven suited.
  • Against the Hijack and Cutoff, you should be mix between calling and 3-betting equally.
  • Against the Button — who has a loose range — you should always 3-bet.
  • Against the Small Blind, you should mix between calling and 3-betting.

With all of that said, unless you are playing 500NL online or higher, the small frequency 3-bets don’t matter much. It would be impossibly hard to get exploited for this in a live setting or micro to small stakes online. So, if you prefer to just call every time against the Lojack, go for it.

Against a 3-Bet

If you’re playing in games with high rake, solver solutions show that Eight-Seven suited should mix between calling and folding when out of position against the 3-bettor.

When you’re in position against the 3-bettor, you should call more often. I’d never fold Eight-Seven suited to a normal-sized 3-bet after raising from the Cutoff or Button. I would fold it some of the time if I raised from an earlier position (because my overall range is tighter and thus the 3-bettor is less likely to be messing around).

This is all assuming you are playing against aggressive 3-bettors who are trying to balance their range.

If you are playing against passive opponents who never 3-bet without the goods, you can exploit them by folding Eight-Seven suited every time.

Against a 4-Bet

This might be surprising for you…

After you’ve 3-bet, Eight-Seven suited is always a call against a 4-bet. The hand retains a good amount of equity against 4-betting ranges, doesn’t suffer from reverse implied odds, and has great playability through being able to flop draws of all kinds.

Once again, keep in mind that this strategic advice is only applicable when you are playing against an aggressive opponent who is capable of 4-bet bluffing. If your opponent is a huge nit, don’t give them the action.

3 Tips For Playing Eight-Seven Suited When You Miss the Flop

This advice assumes you were the preflop aggressor (i.e. the player who put in the last raise before the flop).

Tip #1: Bet with Front Door Draws

For example: You raise preflop with and the flop comes , , or .

Keep it simple and put pressure on your opponent whenever you flop a gutshot straight draw, open-ended straight draw, or flush draw. Balancing your c-betting range with these draws ensures you have a mix of bluffs and strong hands that can connect on the turn or the river.

When you hit on the turn or river, aim to stack your opponent! 

Tip #2: Utilize Backdoor Draws for Bluffing

If you only bluffed on the flop with draws, you’d have a big problem when those draws complete. You’d be left with an unbalanced, strong range that will be very easy to exploit.

To prevent this outcome from happening, you have to think ahead and add backdoor flush draws to your flop bluffing range. These draws do a tremendous job of helping you maintain balance across all run outs, keeping even skilled opponents guessing about the strength of your hand.

Keep in mind, though, that this doesn’t mean you should fire away with every hand that has a backdoor draw. There is a time and place for every play and certainly firing c-bets with backdoor hands involves a heavily nuanced strategic approach.

Related reading: 5 Tips for Playing Backdoor Flush & Straight Draws.

Tip #3: On boards that are very good for your range, you can bet even if you’ve completely missed after 3-betting preflop

In 3-bet pots, even if you’ve completely missed the board, you should still c-bet with Eight-Seven suited on the following boards:

  • Double broadway flops (such as )
  • Triple broadway flops (such as )
  • Ace-high flops

The 3-bettor holds a range advantage on these flops, driven by an abundance of strong hands like Ace-King and premium pairs. So, even when you hold a nothing hand like Eight-Seven suited on those types of flops, you have an opportunity to bluff credibly.

Don’t miss your chance to bluff in these situations, even when you’ve missed, because it’s fundamental to playing optimal poker.

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

Once again, this advice assumes you were the preflop aggressor.

Tip #1: Check Back with Middle or Third Pair in Single Raised Pots

Example: You raise preflop with , the Big Blind calls, and the flop comes .

For medium-strength hands like middle/third pair warrant a passive approach in most scenarios. The goal is to reach showdown cheaply or, even better, improve to trips or two pair.

However, consider betting on certain disconnected flops when your pair is vulnerable and there is a lot of fold equity to be gained and weak hands that will likely call you. For example, I’d still bet on a very disconnected flop like .

Tip #2: Avoid Slow-Playing Trips or Two-Pair

Never slow-play strong hands like trips or two pair, especially when in position. Betting and building the pot early is crucial to maximizing your value.

Slow-playing too often will greatly diminish your expected value in the long run.

Tip #3: Play Passively with Top Pair When Out of Position

When the flop is Seven-high or Eight-High and unpaired — such as or — take a passive approach when you’re out of position.

These boards favor the in-position caller, so you should avoid inflating the pot with your vulnerable top pair. Playing out of position as the preflop raiser warrants a surprisingly passive, defensive strategy in general (as this article explains).

Any questions?

Let me know in the comment section down below.

If you want to learn how to play another starting hand, check out How to Play Pocket Fours in Cash Games.

Till next time, good luck, grinders!

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