What’s not to love about suited gappers? You can hit flushes, weird two-pairs, trips, and super disguised straights!
A suited gapper is a starting hand with two non-consecutive cards of the same suit that can flop a straight (such as T♠ 8♠, 9♥ 6♥ and J♣ 7♣).
In this article, you will learn how to play suited gappers in the most common preflop scenarios. Read until the end to get 3 tips for playing suited gappers when you connect with the flop and 3 tips for when you miss the flop.
J♠ 9♠, T♥ 8♥ and 9♣ 7♣?
How Suited Gappers Differ from Suited Connectors
The two starting hand types are quite similar, but suited gappers are simply not as strong as suited connectors.
The biggest difference is that suited gappers have a lower chance of hitting a straight. According to Flopzilla:
- 98s has a 2.23% chance of flopping a straight
- 97s – 1.91%
- 96s – 1.59%
- 95s – 1.27%.
Another obvious difference is that suited connectors have higher kickers than their suited gapper counterparts. This can get quite costly if you hit top or middle pair. For example, if you hold 97s and flop top pair on 9-6-2, you will have a hard time folding against value bets from 98s (or any of the higher 9x hands).
All of that is fairly obvious. What’s less obvious is how exactly to play a suited gapper when you’re dealt one, so let’s talk about that.
How To Play Suited Gappers in Common Preflop Scenarios
Important note: While high-card hands like QTs and KJs are technically suited gappers, this preflop section is about playing low and medium suited gappers (J-high and lower).
Suited gappers aren’t among the strongest hands out there. For this reason, you should not open-raise them from every position. You will progressively open more and more of them starting from Hijack to the Small Blind.
Let’s compare the open-raising range for the hijack compared to the button (these are the Advanced Solver Ranges from the Upswing Lab training course):
As you can see, the Hijack RFI range only includes two suited gappers: J9s and T8s. The Button RFI range includes many suited gappers, from J9s all the way down to 85s and 64s.
Against a Raise
There is only one position from which you should continue with of suited gappers against a raise, and that is from the Big Blind. From all the other positions, these hands are simply too weak to call or 3-bet. Plus, these hands actually block the folding range of the original raiser.
Even from the Big Blind against a Small Blind raise, suited gappers should rarely be 3-bet (according to solvers). Suited gappers are much preferred as calls in these blind vs blind battles.
Against a 3-Bet
Sadly, suited gappers should be in your folding range against a 3-bet in most situations.
Despite their solid playability, they do not have enough equity to continue. The main exceptions are when you raised from the Button or the Small Blind. In those situations, you can peel a flop with the strongest low and medium suited gappers.
Note: Want to know how to play every hand in every common preflop situation? Get instant access to extensive preflop charts and lessons (for cash games, heads-up and tournaments) when you join the Upswing Lab training course. Lock your seat now!
3 Tips for Playing When You Hit the Flop
Tip #1: Fast-play your very strong hands
If you’ve hit two pair or trips, it is usually in your best interest to pump money into that pot right away. If you fail to do so by slow-playing too often, you will miss out on a good amount of expected value (EV).
Tip #2: Be careful with your two pair hands if a straight is possible
An exception to tip #1 is when you have two pair on the flop, but a straight is possible.
When the board is connected and there are straights in your opponent’s range, you should be less willing to pile money in the middle. Lean towards just calling if you face a bet.
If you are the preflop aggressor, however, the possibility of a straight shouldn’t deter you from building the pot with a c-bet. Just be sure to proceed with caution if you face a raise.
Tip #3: Pot control when you flop top pair
The top pair hands you hit with suited gappers will rarely be strong enough to go for 3 streets of value. For this reason, you need to consider which one or two streets you want to put money in.
Pot controlling from the get-goby checking on the flop is a good option. However, c-betting and checking back on the turn can be reasonable as well. Try to consider the unique variables in a given situation and decide which option makes the most sense.
3 Tips for Playing When You Miss the Flop
Tip #1: Open-enders can be great bluff-raises
To get max value with your strong hands in the long run and to make yourself tougher to play against, you need to include bluffs/semi-bluffs whenever you bet, raise or check-raise on the flop.
When you hold a suited gapper, you will flop an open-ended straight draw somewhat often. For example, T8s flops an open-ender on around 6.55% of flops.
These 8-out straight draws are great semi-bluffing candidates with roughly a 32% chance of hitting a straight by the river. If you were the preflop aggressor, you should almost always c-bet with these hands. If you were the preflop caller, prepare to raise as a semi-bluff.
Tip #2: When you have a gutshot straight draw and a backdoor flush draw, consider semi-bluffing
The equity difference between a standard gutshot straight draw and one that has a backdoor flush draw to go with it is about 4%. Additionally, having a backdoor flush draw greatly improves the playability of a hand because you can continue barreling whenever you turn a flush draw, which will happen around 21% of the time.
When building your flop check-raising strategy, consider including these gutshot plus backdoor flush draws as semi-bluffs.
Tip #3: You generally want to c-bet with any kind of backdoor or better
To effectively balance the value hands with which you c-bet on the flop, you will also need to c-bet a ton of bluffs. Otherwise, you risk being seen as a nit and may have trouble getting paid when you have a strong hand.
Backdoor flush draws make for awesome c-bets for the same reasons discussed in the previous tip: they have great playability and can hit a flush by the river.
If you don’t c-bet these hands, you may also run into issues later in the game tree on certain board runouts. For example, suppose you c-bet on a 5♠ 4♠ 2♥ flop and the turn comes the 8♠, completing every obvious draw from the flop. If your flop c-betting range lacked backdoor flush draws, you would have little or no bluffs in your range on the turn, and your opponent could easily exploit you by over-folding.
Suited gappers are cool hands, but you must remember that it is quite easy to play them too often. Be selective with them preflop and play them smart postflop by implementing the advice above.
That’s all for this introductory article. I hope you got inspired to try some new moves at the tables with your suited gappers. If you have any questions or feedback please let me know in the comment section down below!
The next article you should read seems pretty obvious to me: 5 Strategic Mistakes to Avoid with Suited Connectors.
Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!
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