What Does Position Mean in Poker?
The most crucial poker topic to grasp is understanding the fundamentals of the position. This is owing to the fact that poker is a war of information, with position playing a crucial role in that battle. The good news is that learning how to play position isn’t tough because there are only two options during a poker hand: you’re either in position or out of position.
So, in poker, what does it mean to be in a certain position? When you play in position, you always act last on all streets. When you play out of position, you don’t get to act last. Only the player on the button has a post-flop position guarantee. After the flop, a player’s position remains the same for the rest of the game (Flop, Turn, & River).
What Is the Function of Position?
The position is determined in poker games with two blinds, such as Texas Hold’em and Omaha, by the order of actions, which varies depending on the stage of the hand being played. Before the flop, known as pre-flop, and after the flop, known as post-flop, are the two stages. You are in or out of position depending on where you sit at the table in relation to the other players.
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What Are the Different Types of Poker Seats?
Before we go over how to get into and out of positions at the table, let’s go over what the different seats or positions at the table are called. You must know the names of six important poker positions. If you haven’t already, know the abbreviations for the names of the various positions, as they will be used in almost everything you read about poker. They are as follows:
- Under-the-Gun (Under-the-Gun) (UTG)
- Hijacking (HJ)
- Cut-off point (CO)
- Buttoned up (BTN)
- Blindness in little children (SB)
- Big Blind is a blind person (BB)
On a 6-max poker table, these are the positions. Between the UTG player and the HJ, you’d add UTG+1, UTG+2, and UTG+3 for 9-max.
What is the Function of Position? Pre-Flop
Pre-flop, the UTG player is the first to act. The action continues clockwise around the table, with the Big Blind acting last. The easiest way to remember who goes first is to remember that unless there is a straddle, the person sitting nearest to the Big Blind always acts first.
While understanding the order of play is vital, pre-flop has nothing to do with developing a strategy based on position. Almost every move you make before the flop is aimed at putting yourself in the best post-flop situation possible. As a result, when most people talk about a position in poker, they usually mean whether you act first or last after the flop.
How Does a Position Work? Post-Flop
Following the flop, the Small Blind takes the stage first, followed by the Big Blind, and so on. Starting at the SB and working your way clockwise, the position improves as you go closer to the button, as does the possibility of a player being in position.
If all players are involved in the flop hand, the Small Blind is the first to act, followed by the Big Blind, then Under-The-Gun, and so on until the Button is the last to act. The SB is the only seat guaranteed to be out of place, while the BTN is the only seat guaranteed to be in position.
The best poker position at the table is the button. At the poker table, the tiny blind is in the worst position.
Possibility of Success
To be in position, you do not need to be on the Button. You effectively have position on the other players in a hand if they are all to your right. For example, while seated in the HJ, you call the UTG player’s raise, and everyone else folds. You are currently in a good position. The SB and BB are the only players against whom the UTG player can ever be in position.
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What Is the Importance of Position?
Poker is an information-based game. As a result, being able to act after your opponents provides an advantage to the player in position. Here are three more reasons why having a good position is so important.
1. Choosing the Right Pot Size
Because the Button is always the last player to act after the flop, he or she will often have the option of betting or checking. When they flop a solid hand out of position, most players will check and then try for a reraise (known as a check-raise). Out of position, the last player to act has a better chance of seeing a number of turn cards with weaker hands or draws that would have to be folded on the flop. This ability to pot control allows the player in position to gain a lot more equity by using a larger portion of their range, or a larger percentage of the total hands handed to them. In other words, while in position, weaker hands have a better chance of improving and making a winning hand.
2. More Opportunities for Bluffing
When it checks to the last player to act after no one has showed any interest in the pot, they frequently win. In fact, regardless of the strength of your hold, it is customary practice to bet in position after everyone else has checked. This is frequently seen in limping pots where there was no pre-flop raiser.
3. It’s Easier To Get Value While You’re In Charge
This one is related to the previous one. When you bet with a truly good hand, you push the out of position player(s) to put additional money into the pot with all of their inferior hands if they want to keep playing. If you were out of position with the same hand, you wouldn’t be able to construct as large a pot because everyone can check back. You also provide the in-position players fast information about your hand strength if you lead out. They can safely fold at this point without having to put any more money into the pot.
To summarise: While in position, your strong hands gain more value, your weak hands lose less value, and you often have the opportunity to catch up with some of your weaker hands at a lower price. With all of this knowledge, it’s easy to see why the Button is the most profitable seat in poker.
The Drawbacks of Being in an Unfavorable Position
Aside from the disadvantages of being out of position that we’ve already covered, there’s also the issue of initiative. The player that holds the initiative has the upper hand going into the flop. To put it another way, the last pre-flop raiser takes the initiative.
Without a solid hand, initiative allows a guy to win a lot of pots. One of the most usual ways for a hand to play out is for someone to raise, another to call, the original raiser to continue betting, and the opponent to fold.
One of the most prevalent scenarios is for the Cutoff or Button player to raise and one or both blind players to call. The SB and/or Big Blind are up against a two-fold uphill battle in this situation. They are essentially compelled to make a hand in order to win the pot because they are both out of position and lack initiative. And, because it’s difficult to flop a solid hand, they’re more likely to check-fold.
This fit or fold style of play is extremely unprofitable. A player will simply not be able to compensate for the instances when he is compelled to check-fold by making enough strong hands. As a result, players in the blinds require a significantly larger range of hands to economically enter a pot. The positions that are most frequently in position, such as CO and Btn, on the other hand, can play a considerably larger range of hands. This is because of the benefits we’ve just outlined, as well as initiative. This is sometimes referred to as the “Gap Concept.” You now understand why the notion exists.
A hand like 97o, for example, would be extremely tough to profitably play with a call from the blinds. In late position, though, this is a normal hand to open raise for most players. Here’s how I did throughout my spare change challenge with 97o on the CO and BTN.
As you can see, I was able to win $57 more than if I had folded. When you consider that this is only one hand, you may appreciate the importance of position in poker. Yes, I did call with 97o, in case you were wondering. However, I was only guaranteed position six times and in a blind-versus-blind circumstance!
Is it Ever Better to Be in the Middle?
There are very few situations in which you would prefer to be out of position that can be anticipated. In fact, when it comes to 3-way pots after you’ve made a call pre-flop, that’s the only one that springs to mind. In that instance, having a good relative position is preferable to having a good absolute position.
What does it mean to be in a relative position?
This is a more complex concept and an exception to the positional norm. While it is generally always advisable to act last, this is not always the case. If you’re playing in a three-way pot after the flop, it’s usually best to sit exactly to the right of the pre-flop raiser, regardless of who acts last. The reason for this is that you can see what the person on your right will do before you have to react.
Example: You flop a relatively powerful non-nut hand and intend to check raise the pre-flop raiser’s continuation bet. However, before you have a chance to do so, the player to your right re-raises before you do. This gesture demonstrates enormous strength in many instances, as the re-raiser is aware that you still have time to act. To put it another way, re-raising against two individuals requires a considerably better hand than re-raising against one. And, because you’re in such a good relative position, you might as well throw your medium-strength hand away now.
A relative position is valuable because it often saves you money before you have to fold. In the case above, if you had switched seats with the guy to your right, your re-raise would have been re-raised, and you would have been forced to fold your stake when the action got back around to you.
Other Positional Effects
One of the most straightforward ramifications of position, as we briefly covered, is that it basically decides which hands we can profitably enter the pot with before the flop. Your whole opening range will be determined by your chances of being in or out of position following the flop. This is why, under the gun, players open significantly tighter than they do in later positions. It’s helpful to divide the positions into three categories in order to make better decisions about which hands should open raise before the flop: early, middle, and late position.
Early position is determined in 9-max games by the first three seats. You should largely be opening a very tight range from these chairs. It’s not uncommon to see rates ranging from 10% to 18%. Due to the location disadvantage, turning a profit from an early position is quite tough.
Position in the Middle
The two seats before the cutoff are usually in the middle position. Because there are just 2-3 seats between you and the button, you can open a larger range. In the middle position, most competent players open between 16 and 22 percent of the time.
The stolen seats are called the cutoff and button for a reason. Because of the inherent positional advantage, a range that covers a lot more than just value hands can be opened. Depending on the players seated behind them, players often open anywhere from 25% to 35% from the cutoff and between 35% and any two cards from the button.
If you want to be good at poker, the most important thing you can do is master the concept of position. In fact, positional errors account for the great majority of blunders made at the table. That is why, ahead of initiative and pressure, the concept of position is my most important poker basics. The position is the starting point for almost all strategic and tactical planning.