Sklansky Gap Concept explanation and usage

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David Sklansky did name what good players were already aware of but without a clear definition of it. Basic is simple: you need a better hand against someone who did open before you than you need to open yourself. For instance, you may fold Ks Qh in late position if have someone raising before you, but you may get into action if no one has opened before you. To summarize, the concept rely on the hand the raiser has and the gap with the one you will need to call. Of course the gap may vary depending on the players’ style. If you have a loose aggressive raising before you, the gap may be thinner and in contrary if you have a tight one where the gap is bigger.

How to take advantage of it.

Keeping in mind the Gap Concept when you know your opponent should help you to put them on a range of cards. It will help you in your decisions. Knowing it and used it in conjunction with other strategies should help you to make your foes fold or call (depending on what you want).

Example and application

All-in are common in tournament, but Sklansky uses very specific examples. “You’re in a tournament, sitting in the big blind. You have enough chips to call a small raise. Everybody folded except the small blind who made a small raise without looking at his cards. You look at yours and see 3-2o will you follow here? Yes 3-2o has a 32% equity against a random hand and you have a 3:1 (25%) to win. “Here, depending on the size of the blinds and the pot, odds are ok and you will be in position after the flop.

Another example where the Gap concept applies with K9s. Imagine having this hand in middle or late position. If a player with a big stack in front of you raise it indicates a fairly strong hand. A raise in early position shows more strength as that player knows that there is a lot of players to act after him, moreover, if he is called, he will play out of position post-flop. The range of this player may be something like AJ +, 99 +. These hands are favorites on K9s, so you should fold here.

However, if no one has raised or limped before you, you can get into the action and raise. There are not many players who will call. That is where you use the Gap concept to your advantage. Bad Aces, small pairs and perhaps AJ will probably prefer to fold if you go all-in.

AKo is a good hand and even a monster in no limit and we often go all-in with it. Going all-in pre-flop is usually the right way to play this hand. But it is always better to be the first to do so rather than call. Against a small pair, you are slightly underdog against all other hands, you are favorite to 2:1 (33%). If you are one who went all-in, most of your foes will fold and when they will call you, it will in general by 88+ or painted.


Hope this explanation gives you a clear picture on what is Sklansky’s Gap Concept


Sincerely Yours, Hal


(extract from my blog http://pokericious.net)

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