Playing Position


Understanding the influence of Playing Position is very important in order to play good poker. In games like Texas Hold'em and Omaha this will be even more significant since the betting is carried out according to position and is kept the same all the way through the game. In fact, the player position must be considered in order to make the right choice regarding what hands to play. A beginner player is wise to understand this concept, although there are poker games where it does become less relevant.

What is Player Position?

In poker the player position is determined according to where a player sits in relation to the dealer or as is the case in online poker, the dealer button. The two first players sitting to the left of the dealer are called the small and the big blind. These players will make the initial bets and therefore they will influence the game a great deal. Players sitting to the left next to these players are considered to be in early position and they will get to bet first in the betting rounds. Players sitting to the left of early position are considered to be in late position since their actions during the betting rounds will come in last. Early position is considered the most difficult to play in but with some knowledge a player could use it to his advantage.

When the Position Matters

It is during the betting rounds that the playing position becomes very relevant. If the game is very loose the player position matters less but even low limit games will be influenced by who sits where. It is when trying to calculate the pot odds that the position can mean a great deal. Loose players tend to call a bit too much and therefore it is an advantage to have them seated to the right while the more aggressive players ideally should be to a players left side. When the game is very loose it is easier to predict the pot odds and assume that it won't be raised, but if the game is tough and tight from the start this is also how a player has to behave. Because of this it is preferable to have the loose players to the right meaning that they start out making the decisions a bit easier to make.

Early Position

The early position is considered the hardest one to be in since it takes more skill in order to play it right. The good thing about being in this position is that a player can influence the atmosphere of the entire game since he gets to bet first. A player with a strong hand in early position should raise and by this force the other players to reveal their hands by either folding or calling. If a player after you calls it is an indication that he has a strong hand which is valuable information for your continued betting. If you called the big blind and then someone after you raises you could counteract by re-raising and thereby signaling to the other players that you have a strong hand. Calling from an early position always comes with the risk of having to commit more if your call gets raised by the players after you and this position is best suited to a player that understands the game.

Advantages of a Late Position

Most will agree that the easiest playing position to handle is the late position. A late position makes it easier to know the pot odds in time to act on them wisely. Because of this, more hands become playable in late position than in early position and this is a better scenario for a beginner player. Late position also has the advantage of being able to succeed with a poor hand. If all players before you fold then you can win the game with a hand you would never have dared to stay in the game with to begin with. Late position is also better for bluffing and semi-bluffing.

Keep an eye on your Neighbor

By looking at how the different players around the table play it is possible to make crucial decision for a successful outcome. If the player to the left of you plays very aggressively and raises every pot you can challenge him to overdo it. You can also adjust your actions according to how those to the right of you play, as it reveals a bit of their standing if you only read their moves right.


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