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Seating Positions in Poker

Position is where you are sitting in relation to the dealer’s button. In no limit hold’em and many other poker games, your position at the table is a big factor. The strength of your position comes from the fact that the betting goes in a clockwise manner.

The benefits come when you get to see your opponent’s moves and reactions to other players before it is your turn, whether they bet, fold, raise, call, or check. The poker phrases, “Pro players play on positions” and “Position is power” comes from this simple idea.
Let’s go over a couple things first…

  • The player with the dealer’s button is the last to act after the flop and has the most advantageous position. Known as “the dealer” or “the button”.
  • Players are categorized into 3 positions being in an early, middle, or late position.
    o People in an early position are the ones first to act when the hand goes around.
    o People in the middle position are well… in the middle of the betting action.
    o People in the late position are the ones last to act with bets, and therefore in the best position. “The Dealer” and “The Cutoff” are in late positions.
  • The player right before the button is known as “the cutoff”, because this player will often steal the blinds with a bet before the button gets a chance to do it, thus a cutoff.

In No Limit Hold’em position becomes a great deciding factor if you are going to play a hand or not. Many hands are considered borderline playable, and position definitely should be a factor if you decide to play it or not.

For example, Queen-Ten unsuited is a very, very borderline hand (I rarely play it, only when the situation is right). If you are after the big blind and first to bet it is probably a bad reason to play the hand, let me show you why. Let’s say you decide to limp in and call the big blind to see the flop, you now have everyone else after you to act. This means someone with a decent hand (obviously better than yours) will probably raise the bet a bit. Now you are stuck because you now have to pay more to see the flop and you’ve paid a little already. You are now in a bad situation also because if you do decide to pay to see the flop you are now most likely the underdog verse your opponent. All in all, you’ve put yourself in a losing situation, so just fold this hand when you’re in an early position.

Let’s turn this around using the same Queen-Ten unsuited hand. You are the button and were planning on just folding the hand, but everyone before you folded to you. So now it’s just you and the blinds, in this case with a borderline hand you will want to raise it so the blinds have to pay to see the flop. If they don’t have a good hand or think you have a better hand than them, they should fold and you will steal the blinds. Raising in this case increases your chances of willing a lot more than just calling.

Remember you have the choice of where you sit at the poker table! You can position yourself right of a very tight player and end up stealing their blinds most of the time. At the same time try to keep yourself to the left of a passive player. Positioning yourself like this can become very profitable, so keep notice of the players you’re playing with.

Being in a late position can be very profitable with a monster hand (AA, KK, AK suited) because many people will pay the blinds to see the flop. Then you can raise the bet to 4x-6x the blinds (depending how many people are in the hand) and actually see some action. When you are in the early position with a monster hand you have a problem because a big bet right away often scares everyone into folding. Therefore the later position player has the opportunity to get more money out of the pot than someone in early position.

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