Your Poker Position
Never mind the Harvard Law School, here in the Harvard poker school - we all know about the importance of your poker position around the table, whether it’s at an online poker table or one in a casino. Your poker position can, indeed will, affect the way that you play your hands be it by raising, check-raising or gaining that much sought after free card.
What are the poker positions?
By position we simply mean the seat you occupy around the poker table. As we all know poker has a language entirely of its own and the seat positions around a poker table are no exception. The positions begin with the dealer which, in a game where the players themselves take it in turn to deal, can also be known as ‘the button’, in reference to a marker showing who the dealer is. Play proceeds around the poker table to the left of the dealer, so the next position is the small blind - the first person to put money into the pot before any cards are dealt, a blind bet. Next is the big blind - who puts a higher value into the pot ahead of the hole cards. The third position left of the dealer is called ‘under the gun’; this is the worst position to be in as he or she is the one who has to act first following the deal. There could then be another five seats at the table before getting around to the ‘cut-off’ seat. Cut-Off is the last position before returning to the dealer and is the best poker position to be in. It is the best position because, if for no other reason, you can ‘cut-off’ the chances of the dealer betting and stealing the blinds.
Your position and poker games
As you know there are several types of casino and even state sanctioned online poker games, all with their distinct nuances and rules. However, in poker games like Texas hold ‘em, Draw Lowball or Five-card Draw - you know which position you’ll be in before any cards are dealt. This is because the ‘man under the gun’, to the left of the dealer, is always the one who acts first. So, hand by hand you can easily anticipate who that’s going to be. However, in either a high or low stud game, no one can be sure where their position will be from one round to another. Whilst position is important in any poker game, in Hold ‘em and Five-Card Draw and games like them your position, and playing to its strengths, can become critical to your success. You should always relish the hands that you get when you’re in last position because, quite simply, it’s easier to decide what to do when everyone else has made their plays. You are then in pole position deciding whether to fold or press on - are the pot odds good enough to call or should you save that bet? Conversely, being in first position is positively the worst one to be in - as you’ve no indication at all of your opponent’s intentions or likely cards. Just in case you haven’t figured it out, if you’re not in the first or last poker position - the nearer to the last poker player you are the better.
Other players and their positions
Whether you’re playing online poker, poker tournaments in a casino or a side-game with some friends - you should always be thinking about your opponents play, and their poker positions need to be part of your thinking. Depending on the sort of poker game you’re in, the position of any tight or loose players will more than likely have an effect on how you choose to play. The ideal position to be in is with a loose player on your right as you’re sat at the table, betting before you, and a tight player on your left betting after you. The loose player will undoubtedly play aggressively allowing you to consider if they’ve also acted rashly; whilst the tight player to your left will probably be quite conservative in their play and give you no cause for alarm. Also, with the loose poker player betting before you, you’ll know the sort of play to make that’ll really unsettle him or her next time around.