King-Ten suited (KTs) is one of my favorite hands to play. It’s just so damn good-looking.
It’s a strong hand because it has great playability and solid blocker effects. However, you often need to be careful with King-Ten suited in case you’re up against a hand that dominates you (like KJ or AT).
To help you navigate before and after the flop with KTs, this article covers:
- How to Play King-Ten 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 King-Ten Suited Preflop
As always in these starting hand articles, let’s start with how to play King-Ten suited in a variety of common preflop situations.
Note: Check out this graphic if you need a quick refresher on positions:
King-Ten suited is strong enough to be raised from any position when the action folds to you. Limping with this hand would only lead to you winning smaller pots on average. You don’t want that!
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 three groups.
1. When you’re in Middle Position through Button
There are two schools of thought to how to play versus raises, both of which can be good:
- Playing a 3-bet or fold strategy with your entire range.
- Play a mixed strategy that has both 3-bets and cold-calls.
Both strategies have extremely similar expected value (EV) as long as you apply the appropriate postflop strategy.
If you want to go with the 3-bet or fold strategy, you will want to 3-bet with KTs. If you’re using a mixed strategy, then you will want to call with this hand as it’s not quite strong enough to 3-bet for value, nor is it weak enough to 3-bet as a semi-bluff. It’s right in between, which makes it an ideal calling hand.
Related article: Should You Stop Cold Calling in Cash Games?
2. From the Small Blind
If you play this hand from the Small Blind when facing a raise, you should almost always 3-bet with KTs. The exception is when you are against a raise from the Lojack (UTG in 6-max) or earlier. Against those early positions, you should simply fold.
3. From the Big Blind
When you’re in the Big Blind facing a raise, you should never fold KTs. Call with it every time except when you are up against a Button raiser. In that case, you should 3-bet for a mix of value and protection.
Against a 3-Bet
In highly raked games, which most poker games are, preflop solvers show that King-Ten suited should sometimes be called, sometimes be 4-bet, and sometimes be folded when out of position against the 3-bettor. It really depends on your position.
From the Lojack and the Hijack, you should mostly fold this hand — but consider mixing in the occasional 4-bet bluff.
From the Cutoff, you get to play a lot looser since the Button’s 3-betting range is much wider than the other positions. In these spots, you should mostly call with KTs and sometimes 4-bet bluff with it.
When you’re facing a 3-bet and have the advantage of position — for example, when you raise from the Cutoff and the Small Blind 3-bets — you should always call with King-Ten suited.
Against a 4-Bet
Not all 4-bet situations are the same, so let’s break this section down into two scenarios.
1. You 3-bet from Middle Position through Button and face a 4-bet from the open-raiser.
You should usually fold in this spot. The exception is if you are on the Button facing a 4-bet from the Cutoff, in which case you can call.
2. You 3-bet from Small Blind or Big Blind.
You should only call in this scenario when it is the player on the Button 4-betting. Otherwise, make the fold.
Keep in mind that it is important to consider your opponent’s 4-betting tendencies. Against a tight 4-bettor, for example, you can comfortably fold King-Ten suited to their 4-bet, regardless of your/their position.
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3 Tips for Playing When You Miss the Flop (As the Preflop Raiser)
Tip #1 – Always bet when you flop any real draw
King-Ten doesn’t have much showdown value on its own, which makes it an ideal semi-bluffing hand when you have outs to improve to a straight or flush. That includes gutshot straight draws.
Tip #2 – Almost always bet when you have a backdoor draw
When you have some type of backdoor draw — whether it be a backdoor straight or 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.
Tip #3 – Check on super connected boards when you don’t have a real draw
I’m talking about holding K♦ T♦ on boards such as 8♥ 6♥ 5♣ or 7♠ 6♠ 5♣.
On boards like these, King-Ten does have a backdoor straight draw. But because the board is so connected and better for the caller’s range, your overall strategy should be more passive in these situations.
3 Tips for Playing When You Hit the Flop
Tip #1 – When you flop top pair in a single-raised pot, lean towards betting on the flop and checking on the turn
On most boards, the top pair that you’ll hit with KTs won’t be strong enough to value bet for three streets.
King-Ten’s top pairs are usually worth betting two streets for value, and it’s usually better to extract this value by betting on the flop, checking on the turn, and betting on the river (rather than bet-bet-checking). This way you give your opponent the chance to bluff. If he doesn’t, you will find yourself in a clear value-bet spot on the river after your opponent checks again.
On very safe turns, however, you should definitely go for a double barrel with plans to check back river. For example, suppose the board is T♣ 9♠ 4♠ 3♥. On this board, there are a few reasons to go for the turn bet:
- The turn is a brick, meaning it’s very unlikely your opponent improved to a better hand than yours.
- You can extract a lot of value from draws and worse pairs.
- Betting denies equity from hands like AJ, which will fold versus a bet.
On the other hand, if the turn was the (T♣ 9♠ 4♠) 8♠, you have a clear-as-day check.
Tip #2 – Never slow-play your super-strong made hands
This tip really applies to every hand, not just KTs.
When you have a strong hand in poker, you should almost always lean towards fast-playing to build the pot ASAP. When you flop two pair, trips, a straight or a flush, you should basically always play your hand aggressively so you can win the maximum.
Tip #3 – If you have top pair plus a flush draw, always double barrel on the turn.
As previously mentioned, normally the top pairs you hit with King-Ten won’t be strong enough to value bet with for three streets, so you should often check the turn.
But when you have a flush draw to go with your top pair, this increases the value of the hand to the point that it is worth betting. This happens because the hand has an incentive to keep building the pot in case it hits a flush on the river.
This hand is a bit more difficult to play than others due to some domination factors, but with these tips, you should be making far fewer mistakes compared to your opponents.
Do you approach playing King-Ten 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: When Should You Bluff with a Missed Flush Draw (3 Tips for the River).
Until next time, good luck, grinders!
Note: Ready to join 6,000+ players currently upgrading their No Limit Hold’em skills? Crush your competition with the expert strategies you will learn inside the Upswing Lab training course. Learn more now!