Poker Theory: When and How to Use the Gap Concept

Want to gain an edge in the game of Poker? Well, you need a reliable Poker theory and the gap concepts are what we would suggest today.  Focused on building a strong hand before calling a rise, this poker theory can help you have a strong standing against your opponents.

What is the meaning of the Gap Concept?

The Gap Poker theory was introduced by a renowned poker author, David Sklansky. According to this poker theory, players are recommended to prefer having a better hand before they decide to call a raise over opening the pot. It’s mainly based on the fact that the gap between the calling hand and raising a pre-flop should be higher to have a better winning possibility. This poker theory gives players sitting at an early position advantages. These players don’t have the privilege to observe the opponents’ moves, like the players sitting at late positions, before calling a raise.  They even can’t make their peers make a fold.

Hence, they only have to work on building a strong hand.  The core principle of this poker theory is that the aggressor can only win in two conditions.

  • When it has the best hand during the showdown 
  • When it can force other players to make a fold

Conversely, callers can only win when they have the best hand at the time of the showdown. Considering this, the callers need to have a hand stronger than the hand range they prefer for calling a rise.  This poker theory works best in heads-up situations when the aggressor has an upper hand over other players and can force callers to make a fold. 

It’s important to know that:

The calling range should remain tighter against the opening range when you’re playing against a tight player

The calling is flexible and can be adjusted when you’re playing against a loose player

Earlier, people used to apply this poker theory only to Texas Hold’em and some poker tournaments. However, it can be applied to other forms of poker such as Omaha and 7 Card Stud Poker.  While many consider the Gap Concept outdated, it can help players to make a wise decision during a rise, if they use it the right way.

Factors Influencing The Gap Concept

Several players, types of players, and player’s positions are a few factors that influence the gap. Here is how it happens.

  • When more players are part of a poker game, the basic gap between the best hand and the calling hand increases automatically.
  • The gap is highly influenced by the type of players participating in the game. If you’re playing against weak players, you don’t need to build a strong hand. But, this poker theory could be of great help when you’re playing against a tighter peer. The gap is larger against a tighter player and it shrinks when you’re up against a weak player.
  • The player position also impacts the gap.  Players sitting in late positions will have not much scope to increase the gap while players sitting in an early position can widen the gap easily.

How to Use The Gap Concept- Explanation with Example

To have a better understanding of this poker theory, we’re going to explain how to use it with examples.  Suppose, you’re playing from the middle position and your hand has King-9 suited. This is a strong hand and you can call it a rise.  But, if a player sitting at an early position compared to you makes a raise, you should make a fold.  This is because calling hand should always be of a higher value as compared to the hand you will use to make a rise.

Mistakes to Avoid

While using gap concept poker theory, make sure you’re avoiding these mistakes.

  • Try not to overestimate the strength of the hand and make a rise with a weaker hand.
  • The Gap Concept is ideal in certain positions than others. Hence, you should not ignore the playing position while using this poker theory.
  • You should not stick to one format of this poker theory during a game of poker. It’s flexible and can be adjusted according to the playing style of your peers. So, observe their moves and plan accordingly.
  • You should not overlook the bet size while using the Gap Concept.   A large bet means a much stronger hand as compared to a smaller bet.
  • No matter what, you should never chase your losses as no poker theory warrants a win in this game of chance.

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