The Gap Theory

The Gap Theory

“The Gap Concept” was first introduced by poker author David Sklansky and refers to the idea that you must have a better hand to call the raise than to open the pot yourself.

An example would be this: If you are in early position with Ace-Ten, then you may raise your hand with any sort of value, but if you are in late position and you are facing a raise, then the value of your Ace-Ten is significantly reduced.

The reason behind it being that a player in early position would need to have a very strong hand to raise, as his raise will have to go through everybody sitting at the table. Basically, he is saying that he believes his hand is better than every single hand across the table.

If the raise occurs in late position, it has a lot less weight as it is only stating that the player has a hand strong enough to go against the current players still in the hand, not everyone else. In addition, there also exist the possibility that the late raise isn’t really for value but rather just to try and steal the blinds. In summary, this means that an early position raise means much more than a raise made in late position.

So in practice, if you are facing a raise, you should begin to tighten up significantly. If you want to call or re-raise back, then you should have a hand that is stronger than what you would’ve open-raised with.

Calling or re-raising with a hand weaker than your open-raise hand range means you run the risk of being dominated. You are being dominated when you and your opponent share your top card but he has a better kicker. This is very bad for you as you might catch a high pair on the flop only to realize that your hand was only second best.

The gap may change as you make reads on your opponents and be aware of their tendencies. For example, a raise by a nitty guy means that the gap is big while a raise by a loose guy means the gap is either small or non-existent.

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