In this article, we’ll look at how to make the most out of suited gappers in cash games. Are they just the same as suited connectors? What is the best way to proceed when connecting with the flop? We’ll answer these questions and more. So, let’s get cracking.
What Are Suited Gappers?
To begin with, we should define exactly what we mean by suited gappers. If the two cards are not connected but can form a straight, they are gappers. And of course, if they are of the same suit, they become suited gappers.
So a hand like 8-6 (Spades) would be suited one-gappers, since there is a gap of one card between them. While J-8 (Hearts) would be called suited two-gappers. Although a hand like K-J (Hearts) falls under this definition, the term usually refers to lower card values, much like suited connectors.
How Do They Differ From Suited Connectors?
In many ways, suited gappers are just like connectors. They both offer the potential of hitting a straight and a flush. They play similarly too, in that you can easily discard them if you don’t connect with the flop. And any hand you do make may be well disguised.
But ultimately, gappers are not as strong as connectors, as it’s harder to flop a straight. The differences are fractional and for a beginner learning the game, they are effectively the same. But at a higher level, these fine margins can be the difference between a profit and a loss.
Let’s take a look at the chances of making a straight on the flop with 9-8 suited.
|Hand||Chance of flopping straight|
Another small but important difference between suited gappers and connectors is the value of the lower card. If you make top pair with J-9 on a board of J-6-3, your kicker isn’t in great shape against a lot of common holdings, such as A-J or J-T.
Tips for Playing Suited Gappers in Various Spots
Now that we understand a little more about suited gappers, let’s find out how to play them. Here’s what to do in a lot of common situations at the poker table.
Facing a Raise
If you’re up against a preflop raise, you should ditch suited gappers almost all of the time. They just aren’t good enough to 3-bet with, and calling is too weak from anything other than the big blind. Besides, this is the type of hand you want your opponent to be bluffing with. And that’s much less likely if you are holding them.
Even when you’re in the blinds, you can only realistically call one bet with suited gappers. You should never re-raise.
Facing a 3-Bet
This is a no-brainer. Even though suited gappers offer tons of post-flop playability, you just aren’t going to win often enough to justify calling a 3-bet preflop.
However, there will be times when you, the initial raiser, are 3-betted. Perhaps your attempt to steal from the button has been stopped by the big blind. That seems like a good exception in which you can justify taking a flop.
When To Open-Raise
As with any poker hand, the relative strength increases when you’re in position. So whilst you should never open-raise with suited gappers under the gun, you can begin to justify it from the hijack and cut-off positions. On the button, you can open-raise with all but the very weakest suited gappers.
Playing Suited Gappers When You Connect With the Flop
When you actually hit the flop with this type of hand, there are three likely scenarios that warrant discussion:
- Flopping a monster, such as the nut straight
- Making a big but not unbeatable hand, like bottom two pairs on a flop where your opponent may have a straight
- You flopped a top pair with a really weak kicker
In the first instance, you really must do everything to get money into the pot. Slow-playing, much like with suited connectors, is generally a bad idea. Not only does it give your opponent a chance to outdraw you, but you’re also not going to extract maximum value out of the hand. So as a general rule, bet and raise with these bigger hands.
Scenario two is the exception to the first situation. If you’re holding 9-7 (Clubs) on a board of 9 (Diamond)-8 (Heart)-7 (Spade), your opponent can have J-T in a lot of cases. In these instances, calls rather than raises are the way to proceed. Don’t be afraid to continue if you were the preflop raiser. But just be a little more cautious where the straight is an option.
Top pair is an easy hand to overplay, especially for newer poker players. So whatever you do, don’t fall into that trap with such a poor kicker. Top pair with suited gappers is almost never worth value betting on all three streets. Keep control over the size of the pot. Don’t be afraid to check back if it’s checked to you on the flop.
And When You Miss the Flop
So what about when you completely miss the flop with suited gappers? If you failed to connect or pick up a draw, then it would be a straightforward play. Slow down and check and fold to a bet or raise. Essentially, you’re done. However, if you flopped some kind of draw, the hand could still be played.
For instance, an open-ended straight draw is a great opportunity to semi-bluff. Around one-third of the time, you’ll complete your straight by the river, offering the perfect chance to keep yourself unpredictable and balance out your ranges. C-bet often when you raise pre-flop. Throw in a flop check-raise from time to time.
Even an inside straight draw is probably worth a c-bet when you are the preflop aggressor. In fact, a gutshot combined with a backdoor flush draw can even be worth a semi-bluff, just like an open-ended straight draw. You don’t want to only be making continuation plays with the goods, else you’ll become too predictable and exploitable.
Like their connected cousins, suited gappers are a lovely addition to your poker arsenal. They offer lots of post-flop playability and are easy to discard if you don’t connect. Plus you can easily stack an opponent in some situations with a well-disguised hand.
However, you cannot be frivolous with suited gappers. It’s important to be selective pre-flop. Try to play them when in position and the timing is right. And by using the advice in this article, you should be able to maximize their potential.
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