Position in Poker
Today we’re going to get into how to succeed at Hold ‘em, and position in poker. We’re going to start, strangely enough, at the beginning. At the start of a holdem hand the dealer throws two cards towards you. Surprisingly, more often than not you should be sending them back from where they came without putting any of your chips in the pot.
There are a lot of factors to consider when you are deciding whether or not to enter a pot. For example, how many more people are there left to act after you? Are they tough players? If you have read up on the basics you’ll be aware that for all betting rounds except pre-flop, the dealer gets to act last. Imagine how much of an advantage it is to see what everyone at the table does before you have to decide what to do? Well, its almost undoubtedly a bigger advantage than you belive. For this reason, we base our whole pre-flop strategy on where we are going to be playing the rest of the hand.
If you’re first to act pre-flop, you’re only going to be playing the best-of-the-best hands (we’ll get to what constitutes a good hand shortly) because firstly, so many people have still to act, and the chances that one of them will have a good hand are high and secondly, you will most likely have to act first on all further betting rounds. However, your standards can drop like those of a desperate clubber at 2:30 am the closer you get to the dealer position. If you find yourself looking down at a Domino’s Pizza menu and a paper towel and everyone else has folded, don’t be in too much of a hurry to throw them away. Position really is that much of an advantage.
Remember also that those in the blinds always have to act first for the rest of the hand, so this is where we should be playing tightest. It is tempting to think that we’ve already invested some money and so we might as well see a flop, but this is very often throwing good money after bad.
To sum up, in No Limit Hold ‘em your position is key in deciding whether to enter the hand. If you heed this advice then you are already a better player than a sizeable fraction of the poker community, I kid you not!
Breaking Down the Table
When sat at a full table with 9 players we call the first two seats next to the blinds ‘early position’. Play tightest there. The next three are called ‘middle position’. You can begin to open things up a little in these seats, calling raises and raising with less than premium hands. The two seats after that before we reach the blinds are called late position. Playing in late position is so much fun that each seat has its own name. The first green seat is called the ‘cut off’ and the dealer position is known as the ‘button’. This is because there’s usually a button with a ‘D’ on it placed there to identify who the dealer is. As for the cut off, I have no idea where it got its name. Remember the lingo though. If you speak like a veteran, people will take heed and stay out of your way, even if you’re no good.