Playing Pocket Nine-Seven in Texas Holdem

Playing 9-7, 9-7s and below in Texas Holdem.

These hands are examples of one-gap connectors. In the case of unsuited one-gap connectors like 97, they are completely unplayable when they are below a Ten except in the blinds. They cannot be played for a profit in limit Texas holdem or in no limit Texas holdem. For this reason, all of the advice contained here is pertaining to 97s, which is a suited one-gap connector.

In addition, I do not recommend playing the 97s in no limit Texas holdem until you have gained a good deal of experience. It will never be able to form the best possible flush, and will only rarely form the best possible straight, so you can get trapped in a hand where you hit your draw and still lose your entire stack. In limit play, you may get trapped in a hand, but you can often control the betting to only lose a small pot instead of a large one if it looks like an opponent may have a better flush or straight.

Early Position

I do not recommend playing these hands from early position at any time. The possibility of a raise behind you when combined with the very low percentage of times you will be able to win make these hands very poor from early position.

Middle Position

For the exact same reasons as listed in early position, these hands are not playable in middle position. Once you become a much more experienced player, you will find certain situations where 97s may be played from middle position, but it is very rare.

Late Position

When the pot has not been raised and there are three or more players already in, I will usually limp into the pot from late position with 97s. You need many opponents in the pot to make it large enough when you win to make up for the majority of the time you will lose. If the pot has been raised or there are only one or two other players, it is a clear folding situation.

Blind Play

In no limit play, I always fold 97 from the small blind and fold both the 97 and 97s from the big blind when there has been a raise. In limit play, from the big blind when there has been a raise, I fold the 97 and if the raiser is a solid player will also fold the 97s. If he or she is a loose raiser, I will call with 97s most of the time if it looks like at least three other players will see the flop with me.