Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What is the Gap Concept in Poker and How to Beat It

What is the Gap Concept?

The Gap Concept is the idea that you need a better hand to play against someone who has already raised in front of you. The thinking is that players want to avoid situations where someone has already shown strength, unless they know they have a really strong hand.

The advantage to being the first raiser in a hand is that you are using the Gap Concept to your advantage; that is, especially true if players behind you are timid.

In fact, if the players behind you are passive, you want to me more aggressive pre-flop. Rather than limp with calling hands like suited connectors, small pairs, middle pairs, and those trouble hands like K-J and Q-J, come in with a raise. Even if an opponent calls your raise, you can use a continuation bet on the flop to win the pot.

The Reality

You don't want to get in the habit of being a limper in a poker tournament. While you want to vary your play, always think raise first. And, if you are past the middle rounds of a poker tournament, don't even think of calling as the first player in the pot pre-flop. If your hand is good enough to play, it's good enough to raise.

Now, what if you are one of those players who tends to fold to a pre-flop raise, waiting for a premium hand? You are thinking like a player who wants to survive a tournament. If you play to survive, you will surely die.

Don't look to preserve your chips, look to accumulate chips.

In fact, if a player in front of you raises too often, realize that this player can't possibly be getting so many great starting hands. Look to re-raise this player with your calling hands, or any two cards. Make him fear your hand.

In most cases a pre-flop re-raise will get the overly aggressive player to fold. And, of course, even if he calls your re-raise, follow up with a continuation bet on the flop.

The key to winning tournament poker is the raise and not the limp.

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