How To Use Position

Your position around the poker table is of vital importance and you should always be concentrating on what position you are in every time you are considering playing a hand since it is that important.

Why is position so important in poker games like texas hold’em?

Having position when playing a hand of poker can give you valuable information about other player’s hands. With poker largely being a game of misinformation, any information you can pick up on the strength of your opponent’s hands is going to be immensely useful in your decision making, helping you to make more money when you have position, since you are able to use positional awareness against the weaker players that don’t really understand the concept and just how important it is.

How are the positions categorized in poker?

The dealer button is used to designate the relative positions at the table. At a 10-handed full ring poker table, seat 1 is immediately to the left of the dealer, positions 1-3 are classified as “early” position, seats 4-6/7 are “middle” position and seats 7/8-10 are “late” position. The dealer in the hand is always the last player to act on the flop, turn, and river betting rounds. The only time this isn’t true is during the pre-flop round of betting, when the big blind is last to act, but the flop and future post flop streets are the most important and where you will make the majority of money in poker, hence the importance of having position after the flop.

If you make bet from ‘early’ position, there are lots of players still to act after you, especially when playing at a full ring table, so it requires that you have a stronger hand to enter the pot, not only because there are still lots of players left to act that could have a strong hand, but being in early position, you are likely to be playing the hand out of position on the flop and later streets, putting you at a significant disadvantage in the hand.

As your position improves from early to middle position at the table, there is less chance of action behind you, and it increases the chances that you will have position during the post flop betting rounds. Late position is an excellent spot to be in because if the action folds around to you, you only have a few players to act after you that can potentially have position on you. The blinds are still left to act, but they will be out of position if they decide to play the hand.

Late position (hijack, cutoff, and the button) is generally a good spot to bluff from, because of this reason. There are only a few players that you need to get past for the bluff to work, so you can really open up your range of starting hands in late position in an attempt to steal the blinds.

Having position is also incredibly useful for post flop play. Even if you happen to get called from a player in the blinds, you will have position on the other players post flop the majority of the time (always when you play a hand on the button), and can try and outplay the other players if you sense any weakness.

Also, if you have a medium strength poker hand in late position, you can watch and see how much action there is to get a better idea of where you stand in the hand before it is your turn to make a decision on whether to bet or not. This makes it easier for you to get away from marginal holdings if you think you are beat as well as to control the size of the pot because you are last to act in the hand. It allows you to accomplish this because you can simply decide to call another player’s bet knowing your closing the action, or decide to check it back as the last player to act to keep the pot small.

So, as you can see, the value of position in poker is huge. Aggression is key though when you are trying to exploit your position at the poker table. You need to be raising and looking to put the pressure on your opponents to make the most of having position in the hand. Don’t just look to limp in with speculative hands because you are in late position and then just check/fold when you miss. By raising before the flop, you are representing strength, and can continue to tell the same story after the flop, even when you miss.

Considering the importance of position in poker, to make it fair for all the players at the table, the dealer’s button moves around the poker table in a clockwise manner at the beginning of each hand, so your position will constantly be changing, and you will need to adjust your starting hand requirements accordingly. That is why it’s very important to be constantly aware of which position you occupy.