Value of Poker Position
Understanding poker position so that you can use position strategy to your advantage in Texas Holdem Poker (or any other form of poker) is vital to you as a poker player. In Texas Hold'em, "position is power."
Texas Holdem champion player and UCLA Computer Science degree holder Chris Ferguson (yeah, the guy with the really long hair and the black Stetson) has said, "Poker is like real estate. The three most important factors in deciding how much to raise are: location, location, location."
And just think about this for a moment when considering Texas Hold'em poker position:
- In baseball, the home team has the advantage of batting last. Last at bats allow the home team in the ninth inning to know exactly what to aim for.
- In football, field position frequently determines the outcome of the game.
Your position in poker when combined with poker strategy can be very powerful.
THE TEXAS HOLD'EM POKER POSITIONS
Texas Hold'em poker position simply refers to where you are sitting in relation to the dealer's button. In Texas Hold'em your position in poker is vitally important, and you need to focus on it so that you can use poker position strategy. This starts with realizing that betting goes around the table in a clockwise manner. If your poker position is favorable, you get to observe how others bet and how they react to their starting hands before you have to make a bet or play your cards.
The dealer's button in Texas Hold'em Poker is that small disc that goes around the poker table, used to determine who posts the small and big blinds. In a 10-player Texas Holdem poker game, your poker position may be early position (EP), middle position(MP), or late position (LP).
- "Early Position" means the first four seats left of the dealer. These poker positins are considered the worst seats at a poker table. You need a stronger hand to act from this position because you have more players acting after you who may raise or re-raise the pot.
- "Middle Position" means the next three places at the table.
- "Late Position" means the last three spots. These are the poker positions of power in Texas Holdem and can be used to great advantage by a player savvy about position strategy.
TEXAS HOLD'EM POKER POSITION TERMINOLOGY
You need to understand the Texas Hold'em terms to leverage poker position strategy
- Under the Gun: This is the first player to act as soon as the cards have been dealt. It's the person to the immediate left of the big blind (which must invest a whole bet early and is a poor poker position). Under the gun is the worstpre-flop position and after the flop this position is just plain junk.
- First Position: Here, you're the first to act after the flop; you are in the small blind. After the cards hit the board, you must act FIRST before everyone else. This is the worst poker position of them all, for you must invest half a bet here.
- Cut Off: This is the player to the right of the button. Poker players refer to it as the "cutoff" because that position often "cuts off" the dealer's power to steal blinds by betting.
- Dealer, Dealer's Button, or Button: This is the best position in poker in all betting rounds, as the player in the dealer's seat will be the last to act on all betting rounds. The great poker position of power.
LATE POSITIONS OF POWER IN TEXAS HOLD'EM
If you're on the button (the dealer) or in late position, you have excellent poker position
- Being last is the best place to bluff. If the cards on the board are low and few players involved, bet no matter what you are holding. Periodically, you will be able to scare the rest of the players out of the pot.
- Being last is to see a cheap flop. When you have outs (cards you need to make your hand a winner) after the flop, you should bet if nobody else does. Much of the time players involved in the hand will check around to you after the Turn, even though they own a decent hand.
- Being last is seeing the bets of all your poker opponents. It is important to capitalize on being in late position. Players show their online tells through betting, and acting last gives you time to gather information about them and thus can tremendously improve your position strategy.
- You are free to play more hold'em starting hands because you know your positional advantage is set for every betting round the length of the hand.
- You get the positional bet or raise. When you are acting last and the flop gives you a strong drawing hand, you can bet or raise. Through your aggressive betting, it is quite possible everyone will check to you on the Turn.
OTHER HOLD'EM POSITION STRATEGIES
You can still use early position and middle position to your advantage, although it's more difficult here than in late position.
With Early Position:
- Check raising is much easier here than any other places. To successfully check-raise, you must know the person acting after you will bet, the bet you intend to raise.
- A feeler bet out of early position normally signals more strength. This is a "psychological" use of acting first. However, the conditions need to be right for this to be effective. Sitting at a tight table the circumstances are just right for such a tactic; however, if you're at a loose table with lots of action then don't try that position strategy.
With Middle Position:
- Because you are in-between, you are free to play a few more hold'em starting hands than you normally would.
- The opportunities exist to improve your position in poker by players folding after you. One of the tactics you should employ is if nobody before you is showing strength, place your bet hoping that the players behind you fold. Occasionally when holding a decent hold'em starting hand it is worthwhile to bet with the aim of stealing the button in this Texas Hold'em poker position.
Hopefully you now understand poker position so that you can use position strategy to your advantage in Texas Holdem. To see how far you're coming along, get on over to Full Tilt Poker or one of the top poker rooms. And may the flops be with you!
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