If you are sitting at the poker table in mid position and look down to A-10 suited and everyone has folded to you, would you open the pot or raise it ? Sure you would it is a pretty decent starting hand. What if someone raised in front of you ? Could call then ? Not following the Gap Concept.
What is the Gap Concept ?
Introduced by David Skalansky (best know for devising the Sklansky hand rankings), the Gap Concept states that you must have a stronger hand to call a raise with, than if you were to make the first raise yourself.
What this means is that if you were holding A-10 for example in middle position and everyone folded to you, you would raise it. But if someone was to raise in front of you, this would not be a strong enough hand to play and could be easily dominated. You would base this off of your perception of his starting hand range.
This concept is based on the fact that everyone would have similar playing ranges and play their game using this style. So with the example of A-10, you would assume that if someone opened the pot from Early Position that they must have a much stronger hand like AQ-AK or AA. Playing this way using the Gap Concept is pretty conservative but will keep you from making poor calls and potentially wasting chips.
Does the Gap Concept Always Work ?
No. And the reason is because players are playing much looser than ever before. Prior to the “boom” you would see more ABC poker and would have a much better idea of what was being played in early, middle, and late position. In other words, you knew what your opponents hand ranges were and could act accordingly. If your opponent raised you could put him on AA-QQ, AK, AQ and you would know that if you held anything less then this you would need to fold. Your playing range or “gap” would be much smaller.
Now for the Gap concept to even be utilized it is important to pay as close of attention to your opponents as possible . You need to know what their ranges are, what they will limp in with, and what they will raise with. Players now are so loose that you are actually justified to call with many hands after being raised in front of. It is very common to be able to call with A-K down to A-10 or so depending on your read of the player, not to mention flat calling and seeing a flop to “set mine” with mid to small pairs.
Has the Gap Concept Gone ?
It is not gone, it just is not being used much. It is so difficult to play poker like that due to the variety of hands people play. It really seems as if the game has changed to how well a person plays post flop because of the hands they choose to start with. You may find that at higher stakes cash games that are fairly tight the Gap Concept can be utilized some. Short of that, you will not see it much. If you can find a way to utilize the Gap Concept into your game, no matter how loose it may be, you will find that in the long term you may just save yourself some chips.