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Positions in Poker

Besides being a card-game and a betting game, poker is also a positional game. What that means is that the position in which a player sits at the table, will influence the odds he gets for his hand. Positions are always determined by the dealer button, and since the button goes around the table in a clockwise direction, positions keep on switching as well. Regardless of whether one is in an early or a late position at a given time, the players that he/she has on his/her left and right will act before or after him/her most of the time, so choosing seats according to who you’d like to see on your left or right makes perfect sense.

poker-positionsLet’s take a look at a sample table: the dealer has late position (he’ll act after most other players) and he has the SB and the BB on his left. On the first betting round the BB is the very last to act. The person on his left is always to first to act on the hand, so he’ll be the most exposed position-wise. That’s why they call this position “under the gun”. Of all these guys the dealer has the best position, because he doesn’t have to put any money in the pot, yet he acts last of all those who have no blind bets pending. The SB and BB are somewhat compelled to mount a defense of their blinds (pot odds are in their favor because of the blinds they posted). In the same time, the dealer is in the best position to attempt a steal (by betting let’s say twice the amount of the BB, he can force both the SB and the BB to fold), so he too is kind of compelled to act. The guy on the immediate right of the dealer is called the cut-off. This person possesses the ability to destroy the dealer’s blinds-stealing dreams by betting into him.

If you are in one of the late positions (you’re “in position”) you have more options no matter what hand you want to play. Even bluffing is made easier by being in position, simply by virtue of the fact that you can make a much more accurate read on what your opponents may be holding.

In case of a semi-bluff (if you hold a 4-card flush for instance), being in position is - once again - very important. If you’re in an early position (“out of position” as they say) you simply shoot out your bet, hoping that no one will call. If you’re in-position though, the fact that everyone showed weakness when their turn came before you, will have you clued in that they’ll probably fold, thus the implied odds on your semi-bluff will be much better.

Even if you hold a monster (a hand that no one can possible beat a.k.a. a “nut” hand) it doesn’t hurt to be in position. From a late position you can manipulate your opponents better into giving up more money for you.


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