Playing Position


For the player that wants to play advanced poker it is a must to understand and utilize playing position well. The basic concept of playing position is easy to understand but it takes a lot of practice to integrate this into the game in a successful way. An advanced player has the advantage of having seen most situations many times, and therefore it is easier for him to understand why certain positions require certain strategies. Playing position is easy to forget about as the game moves into the more exciting stages and therefore the first step to succeed with it is simply to learn to always keep it in mind.

Early Position

The early position, sometimes referred to as EP, includes the three players to the left of the dealer button. Being in early position means to open the game and this can be tricky enough for the most experienced player. In fact, no one likes the early position as it requires very restricted and correct play. The players that sit immediately to the left of the big blind are called to be under the gun or UTG which means that as the first players after the blinds they are forced to act. The disadvantage with starting the game up is obvious. The rest of the players get a better chance to read your actions and better oppose you in the game. You must have a very strong hand to act aggressively from this position and most advice will tell you to fold even semi good hands from this seat. Using a starting hand chart can be helpful but only if it incorporates the playing position into the calculation. It is also important to keep the pot odds in mind and this part of the equation varies depending on how many players are in the pot.

Middle Position

After the first three players to the left of the dealer button comes the three to four seats that are termed middle position or MP. Middle position is somewhat better than early position because in this seat you do get a chance to read the actions of the first three players. Still, the danger of the late players' actions is constantly there and this is what many times lead to what is called a squeeze. This is when a middle position player calls a bet by an early position player and then gets raised by a late position player. If you have a very strong hand this doesn't pose a threat but with a mediocre hand and aggressive play from the early position this is really a bad position to be in. Because of this it is best to stick to tight and less adventurous play in the middle position unless the hand allows for more creativity. If you are in a tournament you will want to preserve your chips till the end so it is very important to be aware of position and not take silly risks and lose chips that could be to your advantage later on. It is best to stay away from bluffing in this position all though it can be very tempting to get into it.

Late Position

Everyone wants to be in late position or LP. In this seat a player can actually play out hands that would have mucked in early position. Since late position will have lots of information about the whole table but only really have to consider the two blinds it stands an excellent chance to make winning moves. This is the spot for aggressive play even with weaker hands and it makes it a lot of fun. It is important to take into consideration if the game is before or after the flop. Post-flop play in late position is the best place for the advanced player and this is where a solid strategy can make all the difference. Semi-bluffing is suited to this position as most will fold to a raise unless they have monster hands. It is still important to stick to good hands when getting into bluffing. Taking too great chances could prove fatal also from late position all though you can certainly put more stress on your opponents from this seat without much sweat. A typical tournament strategy for late position will advise you to raise hands with a low pair or an Ace and a weak kicker while folding even stronger hands when in early position. Sticking to the tried out strategies is a good idea and by the time experience will let you make the correct choices without pondering on charts and position for too long!


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