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What Is Position In Poker? | How to Play Poker

What Is Position In Poker? Poker Position is an underestimated aspect of poker strategy by many players. If you’re playing in a Texas Hold’em game or poker tournament, you need to know how to work with your position. Position in poker just means where you are situated on the poker table in relation to the dealer button. The way you end up playing your game is going to be determined just as much by your poker position as anything else. You need to respect those poker positions and learn how to make the most of them.

This means understanding when to play, when to fold, when to bet, and when to call. What most players forget is that the proper time to do all of these things is going to change, not just by when things happen in the game, but due to where you are positioned at the poker table.

The players who are in later positions tend to have somewhat of an advantage over the other players. Why? Because these are the spots where you can observe other players and really think about your decision before you have to act, you basically have more information.

Are they folding, calling or raising? If the other players have all folded, later positions are in a good spot from which to steal the button or if on the button, raise to intimidate the small blind and big blind into folding so you can steal the blinds. They’re the ones who get to see what’s happening and get to react, instead of being forced to act and guess at what is going to come next.

The value of this is hard to overstate, as being able to figure out what your opponents are doing and respond in a way that preserves your own self-interest is a great way to take control of a poker game.

Early-position players are at a disadvantage. While they’re going to be able to take control of how the round starts, they’re not working on any real data other than knowing their own cards. If you’re in that first position (UTG), then, you’re at a disadvantage with an incomplete data set – the worst place to be.

The unfair distribution doesn’t stop there, though. Later-position players have an easier time gauging the hands of their early-position opponents. They have an easier time bluffing, semi-bluffing, and generally confusing the other players at the table. Late position players statistically tend to win more, and this means that these positions tend to be more profitable.

Where you are positioned at the table is going to matter to how you play the game. The better your position, the bigger your advantage. Figuring out how to play from a position of strength means understanding the benefits and drawbacks that various poker positions will give you.

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. The player who has the most information is the player who has the biggest advantage in any poker game. The more information you can gather from the rest of the table, the better chance you’ll have to win.

Pay attention to the position you’re in and the positions of your opponents, so that you can get better at gathering information and using that data to make the most of where you’re positioned on the poker table.

Poker and Playing Position

As my progression as a poker player improves, some of the biggest gains I will achieve will come from having more confidence in me playing better in position. I understand poker rules and have no difficulty playing when I have a strong hand. I must continue working on my ability to use my poker position to play a better game no matter what poker hand I am holding. This is what will enable me to grow and evolve as a player. 

poker tournament

I must always remember in all poker tournaments to play my opponent’s tendencies first. If the individual I am playing with is unable to put me on a hand, it becomes irrelevant to make a move in position. This being said, there are numerous concepts in this lesson. I must assume my opponents are capable of a minimum of second level thinking. This means not only are my opponents thinking about the cards they were dealt, they are thinking about mine as well. 

The Concepts of Poker Position Pre-Flop

I am going to note some poker tactics and strategies I can use to my advantage pre-flop with the use of the power of my position. I must remember a couple of these strategies place less of a focus on cash games than tournament games because there is more emphasis on the pre-flop action. 

The Buying Position

Irrespective of the poker format or variant or my poker strategy, experience has taught me there is a lot more profit for the long-run if I lean toward the aggressive side. One of the best uses of aggression is when I buy poker position. I am noting an example of a couple opponents who have limped in ahead of me. I am in the middle position with a poker hand of KQ, AJ or 77.

Depending on my reads and the stack sizes, I can definitely make a good argument for either raising, folding or calling. If I decide to call, I am providing my opponents with the inducement to limp behind me. Giving up my position means my only remaining choice is to base my play completely on whether or not I make a connection on the flop. I can buy another position after the flop by forcing the opponents behind me to fold by raising. 

wsop

Re-Stealing Poker Position

A lot of opponents will use a late poker position raises to re-steal from the blinds. I have seen this happen a lot in poker tournaments. Players often re-steal from the blinds due to an assumption the late position opponent is stealing and unable to withstand a re-raise.

Experience has also taught me the reason players are frequently re-stealing from the blinds is to adjust their games. They are trying to appear as having a better poker hand by stealing from their earlier poker position like the middle position or hi-jack. I know this is where having position becomes important. 

If I re-raise from the cut-off or button position, it makes my hand appear very strong. Not only will this place a lot of pressure on the blinds, my opponents will often fold with a hand as strong as mid pocket-pairs or an AQ. I am also informing the original raiser my hand is real. This is all connected to reading my opponents correctly.

I must not re-steal against an opponent who is committed to the hand due to a raise or the tightest opponent at the table. I must choose my spots versus the aggressive opponents with a wide range prior to the flop with the capability of folding when I re-raise. 

Using Implied Odds and Poker Position to Outplay My Opponent

One of the best benefits of having a good poker position is the ability to get into pots with a poker hand where the odds are heavily implied against an opponent raising on the pre-flop. This may include low suited connectors such as 6d or 5d, small pocket pairs or suited middle connectors.

In these instances, I am calling a raise while in position because this will provide me with numerous ways to take the pot. If I hit my hand, chances are excellent it will be disguised well so I can take a big pot. The most important aspect is I am given an opportunity to outplay my opponent in case I miss my hand. This is because I am basing my play on the observation of my opponent’s actions first. 

Poker Position: Freezing

I realize freezing is not necessary in a Texas Hold’em Poker play. This is just a benefit of having position. I can freeze my opponents in their hand by calling their raise while I am in a good poker position. They intended to steal the blinds. When I call, they proceed more cautiously.

There are both long term and short term benefits when I call a raise from an opponent frequently raising in either the late or middle position. The short term benefit means I might win the pot post-flop because my opponent has put on their brakes. The long term benefit is I have set the tone of the table. If my opponents come in with a raise, they are going to have a fight. This may stop them from stealing. 

Poker Position and The Squeeze Play

A squeeze play happens when an aggressive opponent has opened the pot, been called in position by one of their opponents and they re-raise. This frequently occurs in the blinds. I have found a squeeze play particularly effective when the opponent making the first raise has a loose range, the stack sizes do not commit to the additional players and the caller is usually passive. Pressure is placed on the first raiser due to the re-raise.

He becomes unsure of the future actions of the middle player. This means I have placed an effective squeeze on the middle player. The middle player would have already re-raised if their hand was strong. I must remember to use squeeze plays rarely and always with a low buy-in. The middle player calls often in low-buy in games because they have a commitment to their hand and need to look me up. I can only maximize this play in poker games where I have a good read on my opponents. 

The Inducement of a Squeeze Play

I have found the pre-flop position effective for trapping my opponents into believing I am not strong in specific situations. Players have added this poker strategy into their arsenal ever since the squeeze play was described by Harrington on Hold’em.

Poker Is Like Sex…Position Is Everything!

This means my position can be used for trapping aggressive opponents in the blinds when I call a raise if I have a big pair like an AA or a KK. This will provide the inducement for my opponent to re-raise over the top. I must be careful using this play because there will be good odds on the big blind to enter the pot. 

Post-Flop Poker Position Concepts

I am noting the key concepts of using my position post-flop. These tactics and strategies are suitable for cash games and Texas Hold’em poker tournaments. 

Floating
Floating is when I just call a turn bet or a flop bet while in position with the objective of winning the pot on the next street. There are three key situations for this poker strategy. 

  • Trapping
  • Bluffing
  • Pot control

Pot control is when I am in position and call a raise with a medium pocket pair like 88 and the flop is A64. My opponent will bet the flop whether or not they have an Ace. If I call here, a lot of opponents will shut down during the turn because they are afraid I have an Ace. I can raise to ascertain where I stand. This depends on my stack size because the better option may be calling. This will help me to control the pot size. 

I know the float play is often effective if my opponent is an aggressive player who usually makes continuation bets. I can call the flop with a lot of different hands to see how my opponent acts on the turn. Floating is powerful if the draw on the board is obvious because I can represent any hand if it happens. 

I can set a trap using the same tactic. Example of a flop on a strong hand or a set while playing against an aggressive opponent, I know I can fire on the turn. The better option may be raising the flop. This depends on the other player. My opponent may think I am weak if I simply call on the flop. This may result in my opponent deciding to place a strong bet on the turn. 

Raising Continuation Bets In Position

In addition to floating against an opponent, I believe in raising a continuation bet. I can change up my game by raising on the flop. In this instance, my opponent will assume I missed the flop. They will think I am trying to get them to fold by bluffing. Having position gives me the opportunity of reading my opponent. I can determine if they are placing a c-bet based on the texture of the flop and their bet sizing. 

Raising Probe Bets

My power of position will provide power when I am facing an opponent betting out from the blinds. My opponent may call a raise from the blinds or catch a portion of the flop with a pocket pair. When my opponent places a little bet on the flop, I know they are trying to determine their position. My position gives me the ability to tell my opponent they are wherever I want them to believe. This is very effective because I can continue representing a strong hand after raising pre-flop. 

Final Thoughts
There are a lot of ways I can position myself for an advantage. The majority of poker players are aware of the value of position. I also know unless they really believe their hand is worthy of playing, they will squander it away. I need to use position as a weapon. My position should only be squandered if becoming involved is useless. I must remember the strength of position. When I have it, everything is much easier. 

The notations I have made are literally just the tip of the iceberg. The best possible ways to improve my poker game are by using my position to my advantage and trusting in my instincts. As I continue to use my position to make plays as opposed to relying on my card’s strength. My confidence will begin to increase, and my ability to play better than my opponents will take off like a rocket. See you at the WSOP!

♠ pokerjournal.org

Poker Position – FAQs

Q: Why is position important in poker?

A: Poker positions matter because they have an impact on the rest of the game. The player who has the most information is the player who has the biggest advantage.

Q: What is the best position in poker?

A: The dealer “button” position, the player who acts last after the flop is considered the best poker position to be in. Why, because that position acts last and has more information.

Q: What is “under the gun” in poker?

A: When you are directly to the left of the big blind, you’re referred to as being “under the gun” because you act first before the flop.

Q: What is the “hijack” seat in poker?

A: It’s generally defined as the position two seats right of the button. This is called the “hijack” position because it allows the player to radically change up the state of play before it gets back to the cutoff.

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