Playing Your Position

Playing your position is a very intricate part of any well developed poker strategy. Many novice poker players may not even realize the importance of their position, and how it can drastically affect the strength and dominance of their hand, as well as their ability to scoop chips while holding virtually nothing.

Your position in poker relates to when you are required to bet. There are three general categories of player position – early position, middle position and late position. We’ll define each of these poker positions, detailing the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Early Position
At a full table of 9 players, early position bettors are the 1st, 2nd and 3rd to act. The 1st bettor, known as being “Under The Gun”, is the player immediately left of the Big Blind.

Under the Gun is considered the worst position to be seated in. This player is not afforded the opportunity to read his opponents before deciding whether to commit chips to the pot, or simply fold the hand.

According to most solid poker strategies, early position bettors require a premium starting hand to even consider investing in the pot. With marginal holdings, any bet placed by an early position bettor will likely be raised. Unless a player is ready and willing to risk a lot more to finish the hand, there’s no point in tossing chips into the pot.

2nd and 3rd position bettors are pretty much in the same boat. Though they will have the chance to observe the betting or the predecessors, there are too many bettors lying in wait.

Should you decide to place a bet from early position, try to avoid limping into the pot. This relays weakness and may result in a lot of callers, and virtually guaranteed raisers. Instead, raise the Big Blind by at least 2x. The only time to limp in is with Pocket Aces, in hopes of drawing as many chips into the pot as possible. Still, mind the extent of your contributions as, after the Flop, you may not hit another Ace.

Middle Position
Middle position bettors, at a full table of 9 players, are the 4th, 5th and 6th players to act. From this position, players have the opportunity to read the early position bettors, but still have the late position players to contend with. A very good starting hand is recommended to even consider an investment, but not necessarily premium starting hands only.

From middle position, so long as a player is confident enough to call a likely raise, go ahead and make the call or place a moderate raise. Otherwise, folding out early and conserving chips is the only viable option.

Late Position
At a full table of 9 players, there are three late position bettors – the player on the Dealer Button, the Small Blind and the Big Blind. Late position is the generally the best place to be as these players are given full reign of observance. Late position bettors can watch the betting style of all early and middle position bettors to determine how confident they are, therefore deciding whether to make a move or not.

A late position bettor does not need a fabulous poker hand to invest in the pot. They only need the right circumstances to come along. When no other bettors are showing enough confidence to relay a strong starting hand – meaning several players have folded and one or two have limped in – late position bettors can raise the pot and, more often than not, steal the blinds.

The Dealer Button is the best late position since they have the opportunity to make this decision without a prior investment. For Small Blind and Big Blind bettors, the investment has already begun; the decision is whether to risk more in order to move forward. Big Blind bettors may find the opportunity to check if no other player raises, in which case they get a free peek at the Flop (well, it’s not really free, but the contribution was forced).

Playing Your Position
If you use your position properly, you will find each has its own advantages – though some are more frequent than others. Heed the advice in this poker strategy article, and you should be able to minimize losses and increase profits on the felt by simply playing your position accordingly.

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