Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Gap Concept and Position in SNGs

Yet another 2+2 thread got me thinking... someone was asking about the Gap Concept and Position and how these poker principals apply to SNGs. A mixed bag of responses from the articulate to the dismissive.

Will try and keep my thoughts short and succinct on this; I believe that both factors are critical to SNG success... one at a time.

What is the Gap Concept and how does this apply to SNGs?

Briefly the gap concept says that you need a stronger hand to call a raise than you need to open for a raise yourself.

In SNGs this is in use all the time - think of the middle stages with a raiser ahead... calling with AJ? no way!! however folded to you in late position you may well be inclined to raise here with the intention of taking down the pot pre-flop.

Later in the game - the Bubble - this is the Gap Concept gone extreme!! No only do you need to have a better hand to call a raise with, but you need a monster hand to call a raise - even if you know that the initial raiser has a wide range. Conversely your opening range is lite here for exactly the same reason (so long as you know your oppponent understands the dynamic).

So what about position... how does this apply to SNGs??

Again we start at the early stages, starting hands pre flop change (you really want to play a baby pair UTG??), from later position you get to see the action ahead - and so may choose to play that same baby pair for an overlimp on the button for example. AK falls into the category of a position dominated hand - being last to act and seeing your opponents check gives you much of the information required to take a stab at the pot when you missed... this is far more dangerous first to act with a couple of players behind you!

Later game plays are mostly pre-flop - so on the surface it seems position is not so important. but hold on - the number of players yet to act and their ranges is vital info for your push / fold decision. While you may need a top 20% hand to push first of 4 to act, in the SB with 2 folds ahead of you any 2 cards may be a +ev push (stack / range / blind dynamics of course need to be factored in). Also seeing an opponent push UTG 5-handed for example changes your calling range vs that same SB push when you are in the BB... you now need to beat a real hand not just any-2.

Food for thought at least!

GL at the tables,

Mark

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