Sit N GO – POSITION IS POWER!

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Mark | Poker Articles, Poker Strategy

Submitted by Stuart, this article belongs to the Poker Strategy series.

WHAT IS POSITION?
Table position is where you are sitting in relationship to the dealer or ‘button’.  For this discussion we will assume a full table of 10 players.
‘Early position‘:  The two positions left of the big blind or three left of the button.
‘Middle Position’: the next four seats.
‘Late Position’ (the best position): The next two seats.

PLAY in EARLY POSITION
The first person to bet (after the blinds, which are mandatory) is the first early position player.  You will hear this as ‘he is under the gun‘.  In this position, you have no information about this hand from any of the players.  You might have a good hand, but with no information, it is prudent to check (limp in) or raise only the minimum.  With no information you can not determine the strength of any of the other players.  I have seen many ‘great hands’ played too aggressively from early position only to be swept away by a better hand or a better hand after the flop.  All early position hands should be played tightly.

PLAY in MIDDLE POSITION
From the middle positions you have a read on some of the players and can better determine the strength of your hand.  From middle position, if you have a good hand, you can loosen up a bit and bet up to the standard (three times the big blind).  Remember that you still have a few players that you have  gathered no information.  DO NOT get too aggressive from middle position as it can cost you in two ways.
1.  If you are too aggressive, the other players just might fold leaving you with just the blinds as winnings.  By being less aggressive,  you stand a better chance of increasing the pot.
2.  If you are too aggressive, you might run into that ‘buzz saw’ hand that flops the flush or straight with an 8,9 suited.

PLAY in LATE POSITION
From the late positions, you have seen and gotten information on most of the players and can make your betting decision with more authority.  Depending on the strength of your hand, you have ALL options open to you.  You can:
1.  (with a poor hand) Fold or (if no one has raised the big blind, you can decide to through in a ‘test bet’ to get more information.
2.  (with a mediocre hand) call or raise a small amount.
3.  (with a good or great hand) raise the standard or decide to ‘slow play‘ by just calling the bet.
As the table loses players, you must adjust your play by the size of your chip stack and the information you have learned from the players that are left.
Be aware that these are basic position play moves and will NOT guarantee you a win!  It’s Poker!
I get many questions on position.  Feel free to comment or use the Q&A. You will hear from me quickly.

TO SUMMARIZE

Position gives me opportunities
If I am ‘in position’, I can win with an inferior hand.
If I am NOT in position I can lose big with a superior hand.

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4 Comments to Sit N GO – POSITION IS POWER!

Mark
January 18, 2010

All true in the conventional sense… but sometimes it’s almost reversed when you play against skilled/aggressive players on the flop holding medium or short stacks. If the pot has been built… and there is only 1 move left before someone is all in… the player first to act now has the best position; they have the best chance to steal the pot because they have the first chance to steal the pot. I guess the situation really creates itself because of chip stack size… but the whole point is the first guy with the chance to steal can have the advantage sometimes. He can take away the play from the guy who intended to make it. As always… use this tip with caution.

Mark
January 19, 2010

Good point Mark.

Successful poker boils down to getting your opponents to fold better hands and call with worse hands than yours.

Billy
January 28, 2010

Nice simple explanation of position. As Mark says though, often being the first to act can also be a big advantage, especially later in a tourney when the relative size of the blinds is big. In general people are pushing of folding a lot in those late stages, and you need a much stronger hand to call a push than to push yourself!

Also worth noting that when you get to heads up you’re in or out of position 50% of the time so being aware if it becomes even more crucial!
.-= Billy´s last blog ..Crazy Bluffing from Scotty Nguyen =-.

Mark
February 6, 2010

“you need a much stronger hand to call a push than to push yourself!”

Now that’s poker wisdom!!!!
.-= Mark´s last blog ..The PokerBRB league is taking a break in February =-.

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