Suited Connectors vs. Suited Gappers: Know the Difference


All suited gapper hands.

Every few weekends, I make a trip to a local card room. Not even 30 minutes away from my apartment. There I see plenty of people limping with their low to mid suited connectors. Some players go even further and have no problem limping low suited gappers. But every poker pro knows he shouldn’t be limping those and it comes at a no surprise, if they want to play a good suited connector or gapper, they will raise it preflop.

If you are new to poker, let me explain what suited connectors or suited gappers are. Suited connectors are hands of the same suit made of two consecutive cards in value. They go all the way from 32 suited to ace-king suited, including A2. Suited gappers are hands of the same suit, separated by one card. This are all hands from 42 suited all the way up to AQs.

All combinations of suited connectors.

Suited Connectors vs. Suited Gappers: Which Are better

Now that you know which hands go into which category, it is time to tell you which are better.

Suited gappers are not as strong as suited connectors. Suited gappers have a smaller chance to hit the straight. On top of that, a suited connector will always have a higher kicker than his counterpart in case you hit the same pair with both hands. This can be very costly. For example, if we hold AQs and we hit top pair of aces with a queen kicker. We will have a hard time folding against value bets of ace-king that has a higher kicker.

Top 5 Suited Connectors against a random hand

We must not forget to include A2s in our top 5 strongest connectors. It is a better hand than T9s. It can hit straights and nut flushes.

Top 5 suited connectors are:

  • AKs
  • A2s
  • KQs
  • QJs
  •  JTs
Top 5 suited connectors winrate against a random hand.

These hands combined have 61% equity against a random hand.

That is quite a significant equity advantage. We should be delighted when we get dealt those hands as they are big money winners.

I win from every position with my top 5 suited connectors. They are simply that good. AKs indeed does the majority of that work for us. But every single of those is profitable in the end.

My overall winrate is 50bb per 100 hands. If you know that best poker pros win at 10bb/100 then you can get the idea at how good hands we are actually talking about.

Top 5 suited connectors winrate

Top 5 Suited Gappers against a random hand

Now let’s check how do the gappers do. I included the following top 5:

  • AQs
  • KJs
  • QTs
  • J9s
  • T8s

Our equity against a random hand is now down to 59.25%. Two percent is quite a drop in the poker world. And we should not just look at the raw equity (chance to win preflop). We also need to consider postflop playability and multiway strength. In all scenarios, suited connectors will outperform suited gappers.

Suited gappers do slightly worse in terms of winrate. I now win at only 31bb per 100 hands (31bb/100). This is still a solid winrate. It is just a lot smaller than compared to suited connectors. Also, I am now already slightly loosing on the big blind, while all the other positions are still profitable.

Therefore it comes at no surprise that suited connectors will make us more money.

Winrates Comparison

Let me demonstrate to you this with a graph from 6max and full ring that I have played. I have included all of the possible card combinations and values for both scenarios. It is essential to know that many lowest values of those are still preflop folds at any position, even on the button.

First, let’s have a look at suited gappers. My winrate is ok, it’s positive, but its nowhere near a steady climb with no swings. I play around 30% of suited gappers, and this is a mixture of 6max and full ring games.

You want to avoid raising low to mid suited gappers (up to J9s in early position. On the button, you can loosen up and open all but the lowest ones.

Now let’s check suited connectors. The graph goes up steadily and without significant swings. I play 42% of all suited connectors. Even in early positions, I will open more than one third of them and have a solid winrate with them. Some of them are purely for value like AKs and KQs, while others are deceptive hands like 87s, and it is good to have them in your preflop opening range. We want to have some mid hands where we can fight back on some flops that don’t look so good for us at first glance.

On the button, you should be comfortable opening even more of them than suited one gapper. Not only that, we can play more hands comfortably preflop. It is also postflop where suited connectors shine more. It is much easier to play them out of position.

Out straight draws are more likely to hit, and our draws will be more often to the nuts.

When we hit a flush, we are happier having AQs than AKs

There is one scenario where having one gapper is beneficial to us. This is when we hit nut flush. Then it is better we have 2nd  kicker or even lower. This means our opponent has now a chance to have the 2nd highest flush. In the case when we hold AKs, the opponent can only have 3rd nut flush as we hold an ace and a king.

I have gone and filtered out my results for nut flush scenarios when I have a suited connector and for when I have one gapper.

Nut flush winrate when holding a suited connector.

Even though in general I make more money with suited connectors than 1 gappers, the following comes to me at a no surprise. Having a suited gapper, when it comes to hitting a nut flush, is better. It makes me 5 to 10% more money. In pretty much all other scenarios, you will prefer to have two consecutive cards than the ones that have one gap in between them.

Nut flush winrate when I have a suited gapper.

Conclusion

Now you know what both terms mean. You are also well equipped with knowledge of which type of hands you should prefer and what kind of winrates you can expect. Also, remember than only about one third of all the hands are playable. The lowest suited connectors, as well as suited gappers, are still clear fold, often at any position.

You are prepared to bring this new knowledge to the poker tables. Good luck and see you at the tables.

Primoz

I have played poker professionally for more than 10 years. I was a winner at every poker format that I played - from tournaments to cash games, both in NL Holdem and PLO. Now my biggest satisfaction is to provide enthusiastic but new poker players with answers to all of their questions.

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