Playing Position


The playing position is one of the most crucial concepts to understand in order to succeed in Texas Hold'em poker. The strategy to apply greatly varies depending on where in relation to the dealer button that you sit. During the game the dealer button moves around so does your position. Therefore a player must keep in mind how to act from all of the possible positions and come to the table prepared with a scheme for each. Knowing how to make use of player position could make all of the difference and an intermediate player will have to study this issue at least briefly to stand a chance to keep up a good poker game.

Defining the Position

There are three player positions to consider and usually a poker table will have 10 players seated. To make the calculation a bit easier we will say that a specific table has 9 players active. If you are sitting among the three people to the left of the dealer button then you are in early position. The next three players to your left will be the middle position and the next three players after them are in the late position. The terms relate to when you will get to take action and either fold, call or bet so it is indeed crucial to the game to understand in which group you are when your turn comes up.

Early Position

The early position is considered the worst position to be in. Being the very first to the left of the dealer button is the most difficult seat and no one likes to be in it! However you look at it, you are simply in disadvantage form this position because you can't judge from the other players' actions how to make your own choices. The best strategy for this position is to play it very tight. Unless you have an extremely good hand, fold it! In most games you will need to preserve your chips and being too bold from early position is to risk losing the chips you so sorely need for future bets.

Early position could mean a lot of downtime when you are waiting for the rest of the players to complete the round. While some will tell you to go off and make some coffee at this point it makes more sense to utilize the quiet for some observation. While the other players are busy making their bets you can see what type of players they are which could be great information as you move into different positions during the game. This is really where you could judge by style and poker face who you are confronting and it could be well worth the silent contemplation.

Middle Position

The middle position is considered somewhat better than the early position in that you sit in between the two extremes. You have already been able to see the actions of the early birds and if you are in this position after the dealer button has moved around you do know some of the people coming after you as well. Middle position gives some room for looser play but it is still advisable to keep to a tight play avoiding bluffing and too risky actions. It is fair to say that middle position play is closer to the early position play.

A middle position requires a strong hand and many middle position players will simply fold as they understand that they won't be able to confront a call. Just like in early position a player will only lose his chips by making foolish decisions and lots of patience is therefore required also in this seat. Should the hand be very good it is always good to raise and be more aggressive but this requires that the player understand just what is a good hand which most intermediate players should have a good understanding of.

Late Position

The late position is the fun position! The late position also means being among the three last players to complete the round of bets. Among these three players one will be the small blind, one the big blind and one will have the dealer button. The reason that this position allows for more aggressive play regardless of hand is that in this seat you will have lots of information about the other players and their play. If you see a big raise before you and your hand is very weak you should fold but you could also be in the position of stealing the blinds by going for a raise and hoping you will be right about the two blinds folding.


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