Many people I think understand in theory what position means at a poker table, but I don’t think many people use position as part of their decision making process. This is very important as it will greatly effect the way hands play out.
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First let me explain what position means in texas hold’em. Position is simply the location you are sitting at the table in relationship to the dealer. Starting from the dealer and going clockwise around the table. Listed in order they are small blind, big blind, first position, second position, third position, fourth position, fifth position, sixth position, seventh position, and eighth position. Now the person in eighth position at a ten person table would have the dealer button, also known as “on the button”.
Basically I suggest breaking this down into four categories.
- In The Blinds
- Early Position
- Middle Position
- Late Position
These are dynamic positions. What I mean by that is your position depends on if people fold their hand. For example you may be the big blind but everyone folds except for the small blind. This makes you late position.
The advantage in having a late position is that you get to see the actions of others before you have to make a decision as to what to do. This can be a huge advantage often times over looked by new players. Now because your playing style would be dictated by what you would do in these positions in different circumstances I will not use specifics as much as the general concepts involved.
First lets examine the “1. In The Blinds” position. First of all it is not advantageous to be in this position as you will be acting early in every subsequent round. Also you have had to contribute to the pot up front and so already have some interest in it. At the start of the hand you will get to act late or even last. Use this to your advantage. Knowing you will be acting early in every subsequent round means don’t call the lower or middle strength starting hands unless the blinds are low and you just want to see if something special happens on the flop for you, and then be quick to fold it when it doesn’t. A mistake I see many newer players make is checking and then calling small bets from this position, or betting the minimum then calling small raises. Now unless you have made a strong hand at the flop you are likely committing yourself more and more to a pot that won’t be yours. New players look at it like betting a little then calling a little won’t hurt them so that they can see if they get their card on the turn, and then the river. The problem is that each little bit adds up. Also the more you put in the pot the more of an interest you have in it. If you put $20 in last round perhaps $30 this round will be small enough to call. You have to remember that in no-limit hold’em your chips are leverage as well as your stake in the tournament. Each little bit not only gets you closer to the door, but reduces your strength as well. If you have a large stack people are less likely to call simply because you can put them all-in if you choose to.
Now as for the breaking down into what positional category for the most part I would suggest this. Generally think of it as early position and late position. If you are in a middle position than consider yourself early position unless your planning on making a bet to force hands out. In which case it would be likely that some after you would fold and so possibly putting you in late position. Unless a large number of people get in on a hand for the most part there will be early and late positions after the initial round.
I suggest adjusting your starting hand requirements according to your position. For example playing the top 40 or 80 starting hands from late position, but only playing the top 24 from early position. Also I suggest being prepaired to fold a suspect hand if your acting earlier in position. Put a “feeler bet” out to gauge the level of your opponents hand.
Keeping your position in mind while deciding as to what play to make will make you a much better poker player. It will allow you to save money that might have been lost as well as extracting money more skillfully. Either way it is sure to improve your game.