Playing Gap Hands in Poker

When it comes to drawing hands, we’d all like to have a suited connector/overcard combination - i.e. Ad-Kd, Ks-Qs, Qh-Jh, etc. Unfortunately, you’re a lot more likely to get one and two-gap hands, which are a little tougher to play profitably. But if you truly want to pick up as many chips as possible on the table, you’re going to need to know how to play gap hands. That being said, here is a quick look at some basic rules for playing one and two-gap hands.

Play with Position

There’s a word for somebody who limps in from early position with K-J… Assuming you want to avoid joining this category, you need to play your gap hands in late position. Preferably you want to be on the button, but the cut-off will work too if the button and blinds aren’t overly-aggressive.

If you’re holding a hand like Q-T or K-T, you can limp in to see the flop for cheap; once again, you should have a good idea that you’re not going to get raised by an extremely aggressive player. With overcards like A-J or K-J, you should throw out a raise in hopes of stealing an unraised pot. Even if one person calls, you’ve still got position and a solid hand that could turn into something better on the flop.

Postflop Play with Gap Hands

The main thing that you need to understand with gap hands is that they can leave you high and dry on the flop. And when this happens, you need to get out of the hand! For instance, if you’re playing As-Jc and the flop comes up 8d-Kd-7h, you’ve got nothing in this situation, and there are both straight and flush opportunities on the board. Even if the flop was 4d-Kd-Th, you’ve only got a gutshot draw, which rarely ever gives you good enough odds to call.

Another problem you need to watch out for is hitting a solid hand on the flop when somebody else is betting like they have the nuts. For example, let’s say you hold Ts-8c on a board of Qh-Th-8d; you make a standard ½ pot raise with this two pair before a tight-aggressive player suddenly re-raises you. What seemingly paid off by playing a two-gap hand has now become a situation where you’ve potentially lost a preflop bet and postflop raise.

In any case, the key is to remember that you’re only speculating with gap hands, so see cards for cheap with them or semi-bluff. But don’t go treating any of your gap hands like they’re a great hand!