There are a number of names for the different positions at the poker table. When you are directly to the left of the big blind at a table, you’re usually referred to as being “Under the Gun”.
As you can imagine, this can be a really stressful place to be at any table. So, we are going to develop an under the gun poker strategy.
When you are under the gun, you’re going to be the first person to act before the flop goes out. This means that you’re in quite possibly the most stressful position in the entire game, as you’ve got to make decisions with little information and you’ll be setting the tone for the rest of the hand.
No pressure, right?
Now, things do get a little bit better after the flop. You’ll be in a really good position against both the blinds, but every other player at the table is going to be in position against you. In short, things only get better by the tiniest bit.
Despite the problems with being under the gun, it’s not actually the worst place to be at the table. You’ll be in a position that will really encourage you to play for value and to avoid bluffing, but it’s not the impossible spot that some players make it out to be. Developing an under the gun poker strategy will be the key.
In fact, with you’re under the gun poker strategy you’re going to get really good at paying attention to your poker hands in poker games. You will, after all, be stuck in a fairly tight range and you’ll only be playing when you’re aware of having a good hand.
So, how do develop a good under the gun poker strategy?
Well, first you’re going to have to get rid of some of the dumb decisions other players make.
Many players adhere to the awful under the gun poker strategy in Texas Hold’em poker tournaments of playing the hand that they’re given. This is part of their poker strategy, of course, but it’s not the only thing on which you should be concentrating. You’ve got to learn more about your poker position in order to maximize the value of your hand and to make good choices.
Your goal in this spot has a lot less to do with what’s in your hand and a lot more to do with how you act. You are trying your best to avoid going to a showdown with whatever you have, so why not become the person who can knock other players out?
We’re going to talk a little bit about how you play an under the gun poker strategy, why it’s so interesting, and how you can get the most money out of playing in this poker position.
Playing An Under the Gun Poker Strategy
In your journey to becoming a great poker player and to rule the world of Texas Hold’em poker, you’re going to read an awful lot about playing under the gun. The reason for this is pretty obvious – you play a lot of interesting poker in this position.
We’re not going to lie to ourselves and say that this position is all sunshine and rainbows, though. There are some really unique problems that come with playing here, and include:
- Players who play under the gun have to act first before the flop. They are also among the first to act after the flop. As such, players under the gun have to develop a poker strategy without knowing how other players will act.
- Players in every other position can develop unique poker strategies to make your life miserable. While you might be short on information, they can learn an awful lot about you with relatively little effort.
- Players who are under the gun get bullied, bluffed, and generally treated by dirt by the rest of the table.
With all this said, you’d think the person under the gun would lose every hand. The truth, though, is that you can fight through this position fairly well and win plenty of poker tournaments. What you’re looking to do is to start playing tight and get yourself out as profitably as possible.
Under the Gun Poker Strategy
So, what’s the ideal poker strategy for playing under the gun in Texas Hold’em poker? Most of the pros are going to point out that playing tight in early positions is usually the best way to preserve your stacks. Since everyone else gets to play after you, you’re going to be at a disadvantage going forward and you should try to save your chips where possible.
Since you’re in a bit of a bit insofar as the position is concerned, you’ll want to stick to playing the best possible hands when and if you choose to play. You might be willing to play a suited jack and ten when you are on the button, for example, but that hand is probably worth folding if you are going in early.
As you might imagine, you’re going to stick with a fairly tight range of hands when you’re in this under the gun poker position. You want to play hands that are going to carry you through the flop and theoretically through the showdown whenever possible. You’re looking for winners, in other words.
So, what does this really mean?
Well, you’re going to stay in with pairs, of course. Suited face cards are also a good idea, as are Ace/Queen, Ace/King, and Ace/Jack pairs if they are suited. You might even get away with a King/Queen suited, but this one is on the edge.
Where you are going to run into some arguments is with your suited connectors. Some will say that you can hit eight/nine, nine/ten or even ten/Jack, but this is a really tough position to put yourself in. You can use them, but don’t use them too often. You’re not in a great position to see where these hands go and you really don’t have any room to bluff if things go bad after the flop.
The worst part about being under the gun is that you don’t necessarily know where you stand with your hands. You can raise from the position with something that would usually be good, but you don’t necessarily know what that’s going to mean going forward. It’s tough, in other words.
Because you are sitting with a good hand in a bad position, you’re going to be dealing with an awful lot of problems every time you move forward. You can get through some early rounds only to get blasted by big bets, and you’ll always be wondering if you’re being bluffed simply because you had to play it tight early on.
Realistically, even great hands are going to get side-eyed because you can’t come out with both guns blazing when you sit in an early position. This is going to lead to more players deciding that they can call you out and more players messing with your head as you try to move forward in the game.
What this means for you, of course, is that you’ve got to get really good at knowing how to read the cards on the table. You have to be confident that you have the best hand on the table, or you’re just going to be asking for trouble any time you bet. You can’t get out your position, but you can get your opponents out of your head.
Basically, you want to keep your range as tight as you can. You’re handicapped by being under the gun and reading everyone else has to be colored by that fact. If you win a hand, it’s because you had good cards to begin with. If you really feel like you want to play with fancy strategy, just remember that you can do that a little later in the game.
Embracing Aggressive Play
How do you deal with players who push you around when you’re under the gun?
Easy – you play aggressive.
One of the best ways to make sure you make money when you’re in this position is to get aggressive when you have a good hand. If you can dominate the cards pre-flop, you might not have to worry about all of your problems once the flop comes out.
Let’s say that you get a pair of queens when you’re under the gun. Many players who choose to limp here, mostly because they want to be fancy and try to slow-play everyone else at the table. It’s the kind of cutting, insightful logic that a lot of would-be pros employ when they absolutely need to lose all of their money.
If you’ve got a pair of queens before the flop, you have an awesome hand. It’s going to beat literally every possible hand other than two, both of which have a relatively low potential of being on the board. Your job is to get your money in as soon as possible and let the other players do the real work.
You’re going to throw out big money because you want big money to follow you. If you don’t, you’re just going to encourage fellow limpers and end up letting everyone else see the next few cards cheaply.
As ever, your job is to get as much value out of your cards as possible. If you’re under the gun, the way you get that value is to raise and hope that others follow suit. If you call, you’re leaving too much money behind.
Can you always do this? Of course not! If you’ve got a small pair in the pocket, you’re going to want to cool things down considerably. A pair of twos isn’t necessarily the best possible hand you can have, but they’re good for going after the set. You want to go cheap because you’ll want to fold them immediately if you don’t see that set on the flop.
How exactly you handle that situation is, of course, up to you. Some will say that you should raise anyway because limping is equivalent to showing your belly to a predator. Others might rightfully point out that passive games will let you get away with murder. Always choose what works for your table.
If nothing else, try to be a little flexible when you are under the gun. How you play is going to depend on what’s happening at your table, not what’s happening in the theoretical world of perfect poker. You may well get to play a lot looser than we’ve discussed here when you’re playing against a bunch of tight players, for example.
Try to remember that the fundamental strategy that rules poker is a willingness to adapt. There are very few hard and fast poker rules when it comes to how you play, so take what’s been written here and build on it with your knowledge of your table. If you can apply and adapt, you’ll be able to win more games. See you at the WSOP!
Under The Gun Poker Strategy – FAQ
What does it mean to be under the gun in poker?
This means you're first to act pre-flop. You are under the gun because all the action is on you immediately, but you're usually going to fold in this spot because you should only be playing from this spot if you have a top 5 hand (in most situations).
What are the positions in poker?
The positions are UTG (under the gun), UTG +1, UTG +2, MP1, MP2, Hijack, Cutoff, Button, Small Blind and Big Blind.
Who is first to act in poker?
During pre-flop action, UTG acts first. During post-flop action, the small blind acts first.
What is the cutoff in poker?
The cutoff is right before the button. It's the second-best position because you will be the second last to act. This means you will have a lot of information.
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