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Poker table positions: How to play in each seat

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Poker table positions: How to play in each seat

Poker table positions: How to play in each seat

Sun Sep 18 2022 02:15:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

To poker beginners, where they sit at the table may seem like an unimportant factor, but experienced players know that position is power. Poker table positions can make or break your play since they determine how much information you can get on your opponents before your following action. 


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Learn the ins and outs of poker positions here at Bitcasino and find out how you can improve your winning odds by strategically selecting your seat. 

What are poker table positions?

In poker, table positions refer to where the players sit around the table and the order of play. They’re determined by the dealer button that dictates who deals the cards, bets the blinds and acts first.

Your position at the table determines whether you can observe your opponents’ actions first before betting or not. Thus, it affects your play and helps you determine the strategies you can use.

Poker table positions explained in detail

In poker, a dealer button, sometimes called ‘buck,’ is used to determine who’s the dealer sitting at the poker button position (BTN). To their left are the early positions: small blind (SB), big blind (BB) and under the gun (UTG). 

The late positions, hijack (HJ) and cutoff (CO) are located to the right. Those who sit in between are the middle positions. 

Here’s the layout of the different positions at brick-and-mortar casino tables and live online poker games:


Image source: PokerNews

What are poker positions on the table?

Some poker seat positions are better than others as you can see below:

  1. Early position poker

The first three players to the dealer’s left (SB, BB and UTG) are in ‘early positions’ (EP) and are referred to as ‘out of position’ (OOP) since they bet before everyone else.

The early positions are the following: 

  • Small Blind (SB) 

The SB sits to the left of the BTN. During pre-flop, it bets half the big blind and acts second to the last, giving it a slight advantage. However, it’s the first to act in all betting rounds post-flop, putting it in a disadvantageous and least desirable position.

  • Big Blind (BB) 

The BB sits to the left of the SB. It pays the big blind during pre-flop and is the second to act in all betting rounds post-flop, making it another disadvantageous position.

  • Under the Gun (UTG)

The UTG sits to the BB’s left and acts first in the pre-flop, generally making a conservative initial bet since they must act without knowing the other players’ actions before the flop. Moreover, during the post-flop, they’re the third to act.

  1. Middle position poker

Those in the middle position (MP) sit to the UTG’s right. In a 6-handed table, there’s only one central position, the Hijack (HJ). In a 9-handed table or full-ring, three hands referred to as UTG+1, MP, and MP1 are in this position.

Since they’re in the middle and can observe a few other players, those in this position can take calculated risks by calling or increasing the bet. 

  1. Late position poker

The players in the late positions (LP) have the best positions since they can see the actions of those in the MP and EP. Thus, they’re called ‘in position’. Plus, they can ‘steal blinds’ or raise when no one increases the pot in the next betting round. 

The late positions consist of the last three players on the table, namely:

  • Hijack (HJ)

The HJ sits to CO’s right and can ‘hijack’ the blinds from the CO and BTN by open-raising first. In a 6-handed table, the HJ becomes the sole middle position.

  • Cutoff (CO) 

The CO sits to the BTN’s right, making it the second-best position at the table since others will act first before them.

  • Button (BTN)

The dealer button position sits where the button is placed. It determines who among the players is the dealer and dictates the other table positions.

In the pre-flop, it acts third to the last, but in the post-flop, it’s always the last to act. This means it can observe other players’ actions first before deciding what to do, making it the most advantageous position at the table.


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Does position matter in poker?

Your position dictates how many players act before you, thus determining the information you have access to that you can use in your poker strategy. It allows you to observe the other player's moves and make an informed judgement about your next move.

For example, if you’re the BTN and the players are either checked or folded, you can bluff by raising and making them believe you have a winning hand even if you don’t. As a result, the remaining players may fold, and you win the pot. 

Being in a position after other players means you can predict their hand depending on the pattern of their actions. Here’s how you can read other players’ moves:

  • Player checks or cold calls → that may indicate a weak hand
  • Player bets or raises → that may indicate a strong hand
  • The size of their bet could also indicate the strength of their hand. 
  • The time it takes for them to make a move may also indicate their confidence on their hand. A longer time may mean uncertainty or hesitance. 

Poker position strategy

Now that you know the basics of poker table positions, here are the best strategies to play in each seat:

  1. Early position

The best approach to playing the early position is to raise only for premium hands and play conservatively through cold calling. Playing aggressively in this position will be challenging since players in position can always overplay you. 

  1. Middle position

Gaining proficiency in the middle position is tricky since your play will depend on the actions of early and late positions. You have little information to work with, so it’s best to tighten your play, especially if both players on your left and right are aggressive.

You can gain a significant advantage by looking for opportunities to exploit those in an early position. For instance, you may try re-raising in the hopes of shutting out other players and obtaining an advantage against weaker players. 

  1. Late position

You can play a broader range of hands in the late position since you can observe other players’ actions and act accordingly. You can also use an aggressive strategy here! Take advantage of this by strategising against your opponents so you can win the pot and increase your profitability by position poker

Poker positions chart

Poker position charts tell you which hands are worth playing in every position. Remember that they vary depending on the number of players at the table.

  1. The 6-handed table poker

As its name suggests, this table has six players: SB, BB, UTG, HJ, CO and BTN with the CO as the only middle position. Check the hands you can play based on your position at a 6-handed table below:

Position

Early position

(SB, BB, UTG)

Middle position

(HJ)

Late position

(CO & BTN)

Playable hands

Pairs

9-9, T-T, J-J, Q-Q, K-K, A-A

Pairs

7-7, 8-8, 9-9, T-T, J-J, Q-Q, K-K, A-A

Pairs

6-6, 7-7, 8-8, 9-9, T-T, J-J, Q-Q, K-K, A-A

Strong Aces

A-T suited

A-J suited and unsuited A-Q suited and unsuited A-K suited and unsuited

Strong Aces

A-T suited and unsuited

A-J suited and unsuited A-Q suited and unsuited

A-K suited and unsuited

K-Q suited and unsuited

(K-J and K-T suited sometimes)

Strong Aces

A-T suited and unsuited

A-J suited and unsuited A-Q suited and unsuited

A-K suited and unsuited

K-Q suited and unsuited

K-J suited and unsuited

K-T suited and unsuited

Suited and unsuited connectors: 

Q-J, J-T, T9, 8-9

Suited and unsuited connectors: 

Q-J, J-T, T9, 8-9, 6-7

  1. The 9 max table poker

This table has nine players: SB, BB, UTG, UTG+1, MP, MP1, HJ, CO and BTN. Here are the possible hands you can play in the early, middle and late positions:

Position

Early position 

(SB, BB, UTG)

Middle position

(UTG+1, MP, MP1)

Late position

(HJ, CO, BTN)

Playable hands

Premium Pairs

T-T, J-J, Q-Q, K-K, A-A

Premium Pairs

8-8, 9-9, T-T, J-J, Q-Q, K-K, A-A

Premium Pairs

All pairs

Strong Aces

A-J suited 

A-Q suited and unsuited

A-K suited and unsuited

Strong Aces

A-J suited and unsuited

A-Q suited and unsuited

A-K suited and unsuited

A-T suited

K-Q suited

Strong Aces

A-J suited and unsuited

A-Q suited and unsuited

A-K suited and unsuited

A-T suited

K-Q suited

A-7 suited or better

Suited and unsuited connectors: 

Q-J, J-T, T9, 8-9, 7-8, 6-7 suited


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Advantages of positions in poker

A significant advantage of being in position in poker is that you can see your opponent's next move, like whether they check, bet, raise or call. Have a look at the advantage of positions in poker below:

  1. Lets you know when to bluff

Knowing each poker position’s play, you can plan your bluffs better. When done correctly, it increases your chances of winning and prevents you from being too predictable. 

However, bluffing often may be disastrous since experienced players can easily spot poker tells. Only bluff when you are confident in your success. 

  1. Controlling the pot

When you're in the late position, you can decide how big the pot can go. If you're interested in a small pot and your opponent checks the action to you, you may check behind. You can always raise if you wish to play for a larger pot. 

  1. Gives you more confidence

To master poker play, you should know different strategies for various positions. Only then can you plan and play with greater assurance.

  1. Knowing your opponent's actions

You can predict your opponent’s actions when you know how to play each position. For example, if you’re the CO, you know the BTN has the best seat, and they’re likely to bluff or raise. Thus, you can steal their advantage and raise it before they do so.

Play poker and take home the pot at Bitcasino

Regardless of whether your poker table position is advantageous or not, you’ll always have the chance to win the pot as long as you know the right strategies. 

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Frequently Asked Questions: Poker table positions

What are the poker table positions at a poker table?

The basic positions at a 6-handed poker table are the small blind (SB), big blind (BB), under the gun (UTG), hijack (HJ), cutoff (CO) and button (BTN). In a full ring with 9 players, UTG+1, MP and MP1 are added after the UTG.

What is the worst position in poker?

The most undesirable position in poker is the earliest position, the small blind since it requires you to act without having any knowledge of your opponent’s cards.

What is the best position in poker?

The best position in poker is the button since it’s the last to act. In this position, you can know your opponent's actions and predict their hands, allowing you to make informed decisions on your next action. 

Do positions change in poker when there are empty seats?

When playing poker, positions are always determined by the dealer button, so any empty seat is disregarded. 

Why are poker table positions important?

With poker player positions, you may get insight into your opponent's hand strategy before and after the flop is handed.

Words by: Rasheed Custodio


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Poker table positions: How to play in each seat