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Using The Poker Gap Concept To Your Advantage

Published by on November 21, 2019

Every sport has its experts and all have a different take on the best approach to any given situation. So whether it’s a gambling strategy to win at Blackjack, a winning tip for the Grand National or even a sure fire way to spot a tell at the poker table, everybody has an opinion.

Concepts are slightly different and have generally been proven over time and can be relied on. The poker gap concept is something a lot of keen poker players will be familiar with. It was first introduced by the professional poker player, and respected gambling author, David Sklansky. Essentially the idea is that a player needs to have a better hand to call a raise, than they would require to open the action with a raise themselves.

It also shows that by calling, a player only has one way of winning a pot. That is by having the best hand. But a player who raises has two as he can win with the best hand or cause opponents to fold and win the hand immediately.

The gap can increase or narrow depending on the playing style of the other players at the table. It can also depend on which position the raise came from, the stage of the tournament or a player’s stack size.

Continually folding when an opponent raises is not how to play tournament poker successfully. Instead, you need to make a judgement of your hand strength in relation to the factors mentioned above.

Playing styles vary but there are a few categories that many fall into. If your opponent is loose and has been raising many hands preflop this means the gap is narrower. You can start to call him with less than premium holdings as it is a good indication that the loose player is bluffing a lot.

He is essentially trying to force players out of the hand and win the blinds. This may work occasionally but these kinds of loose players are often just trying their luck. If you have a better hand you will beat them more often than not.

Now consider the player who only plays a few hands. If that player opens during the early stages of a tournament, from early position, you should only play your very best hands. That is because the gap will be very wide. It is wide because you are risking a large stack of chips by calling the raise.

And a tight player in early position is unlikely to be raising weak hands. After all, their raise has to make it through the entire table. And each player left could potentially hold a better hand. So it is a bold and confident move. But one that also can be used sparingly as a bluff.

In this scenario, the experts largely agree that you should probably fold most of your hands. But, like everything in life, there are exceptions. If you are going to take on this type of move, try playing, and re-raising, with queens, kings and aces. Remember that an early-position raise holds a lot more weight than a late-position raise because it needs to beat more players.

However, if the same player open-raised from the button you can play back with a much wider range of hands. Raising standards will be much less when your opponent only has the blinds to get through with his raise.

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