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The importance of Poker Table Positions in winning

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The importance of Poker Table Positions in winning

The importance of Poker Table Positions in winning

Wed Jan 25 2023 02:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

To poker beginners, where they sit at the table may seem unimportant, 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 next move. 


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Poker position is important to understand when you play poker, especially in Texas Hold’em, the most popular variant of the game. That's because the information you gather from other players depends on your position during the game. The earlier your position on the table, the less advantageous since you get less information from other players. 

On the contrary, the later your position on the poker table, the more information you can gather from your opponents. That's how powerful knowing what poker seat positions are. 

Learn more about poker player positions, their names and how these strategies can help improve your play at Bitcasino.

What is a poker position?

In casino terms, poker positions on the table refer to the seats players occupy and the order in which they act pre-flop and post-flop. All the positions are always relative to the poker deal button, small blind and big blind. This applies to poker variations with community cards such as Texas Hold 'em and Omaha.

The player who acts first in the game is called 'out of position' because they don't have any information before they act, putting them at a disadvantage. Meanwhile, the player who acts last is called 'in position' because the position is at an advantage. That's due to the extra information that they gain from acting later. Additionally, those in position are also given more control over the pot size. 

To make it fair, the positions are determined by placing face-up cards for each player before the game. Whoever gets the highest card will start on the button, and the two with the least favourable cards will start as the small and big blinds. The button will then move clockwise around the table after every round to change the positions.

Relative position vs absolute position

There are two types of positions in poker, namely the relative and absolute positions. The former refers to your position relative to your opponents during a hand. You can either be in position, out of position or in between if there are two or more players. 

On the other hand, the absolute position refers to your position relative to the dealer button. The relative position can change throughout the hand, whether pre-flop or post-flop. Meanwhile, the absolute position stays the same once the hand is dealt.


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Poker table positions explained: Types of poker table positions


Photo taken from upswingpoker.com

What are the positions at a poker table? Here are the absolute positions a player can be assigned to at a 9-handed poker table:

  1. Early positions (EP)

Early position poker comprises the first two or three positions at the table, commonly the blinds, under the gun (UTG) and UTG+1 positions. These positions will be the first ones to act during the pre-flop round because they're to the left of the dealer button. 

The small blind (SB)

Whoever sits to the button's left is the small blind who places half the amount of the big blind stated on the table. This already puts the player at a disadvantage. 

It's also considered the worst position in poker since whoever sits here is forced to place a bet without seeing their cards first. They act first post-flop and are guaranteed to be out of position, which means there are no advantages for this position.

The big blind (BB)

Whoever sits on the left of the small blind is the big blind, which places the corresponding blind bet stated on the table. This position is unique because it's in position during pre-flop, meaning if everybody folds, the pot can be immediately won by the big blind. 

Some consider this the least profitable seat because the player will be out of position for the rest of the game after pre-flop betting. 

Under the gun (UTG)

This is the player seated directly to the left of the big blind. They will also be the first to act before the flop, making it one of the worst positions at a poker table. You have to play very tightly during your turn because the chances that someone to the left has stronger hands than you are high. This adds a lot of pressure to the player, which can be disadvantageous while playing. 

UTG+1

Directly to the left of the UTG is the UTG+1. They will be the second to act during the pre-flop round, giving the player a disadvantage over the game. Although you can play a couple more hands from the UTG, you still need to play because there are 7 other players left to act behind you.

  1. Middle positions (MP)

As the name implies, middle-position poker is neither early nor late. They are in the centre, meaning that they have an expanded range compared to early positions, but they are still at a disadvantage since there are other players left to act behind them. 

UTG+2

Sometimes, this position is called the Middle Position because it's between early and late positions. As said earlier, this position can still be at a disadvantage since other players will still act right after. 

LoJack (LJ)

Though closer to the button than other middle positions, the LoJack can still be awkward since early and late positions sandwich it. Even though the player here can afford to play more hands than a UTG player, they still have to be relatively tight because late positions can take advantage of their play. 

Some players refer to it also as a middle position since it is between the early and late positions. 

  1. Late positions (LP)

Late position poker seats have all the advantages of the game. That's because, in any of these positions, you can open up your starting hand ranges and use the information you gain after that against your opponents. 

Hijack (HJ)

This late position is called hijack since this position can hijack the chance for those in the cutoff and button to raise or steal the blinds. In the early days, it was considered a middle position by conservative players because your plays can still be limited in this position. 

Those seated in this position are opening their ranges a lot more and can aggressively play if they want to. Moreover, they can steal and beat the blinds from both early and late positions. 

Cutoff (CO)

The cutoff is the second-best poker position when playing Texas Hold 'em. It's one seat to the right of the button, which makes it in position during the post-flop round. It means the player can raise a wide range of hands for their play. Before players started to play wider and more aggressively from the hijack, this position used to be the cutoff where players started to loosen their range. 

Button (BTN)

The poker button position remains the best position you can play at the poker table. You're guaranteed to be in position both pre-flop and post-flop when you're the button since you're always the last to act. When considering the profitability by position, poker buttons are quite high because you can raise a wide range of hands. Moreover, the pot is yours if the other players fold post-flop.


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Does position matter in poker?: The strategies for each position

There’s a poker position strategy for every position at the table, depending on where they are positioned. Knowing them can help you win regardless of your position, especially since the button rotates after every round. It means you'll eventually find yourself in every position, whether early, middle or late.

Here are the strategies you have to keep in mind when playing at various positions during a poker game:

  • Early position

The first two positions to act at the table, namely the UTG and the UTG+1, are at a disadvantage because there are 7 or 8 players left to act behind them. There's also limited information to gather from players when you're out of position. Moreover, the chances that other players at the MP and LP have strong hands are high. So if you're in this position, it's best to play a tight pre-flop range. 

You can also exploit the expectations of playing a tight range by raising. However, you'd still be at a disadvantage, especially if other players behind you have strong hands. Although players can be wary of your bluff and fold, not everyone can be fooled by this strategy, especially experienced poker players. 

  • Middle position

Those in the middle position can expand the range to include weaker pairs, suited connectors and hands with Aces. However, playing a bit tighter in this position is still best since at least five players will still act after you. 

In this position, you'd want to play a moderately aggressive poker player strategy. This means that you play tightly, especially when facing early open positions. You wouldn't want to call often against early position raises because the ranges of the EP players will be strong. This will also leave you vulnerable against players who are in the LP. 

Bluffing in live dealer games is also possible at the middle position because you have enough information from early-position players and an expanded hand range. However, you have to consider that other players behind you might have better hands than you. 

  • Late position

Playing in a late position is the most profitable in poker since you can open up your range more than those playing in EP and MP. Moreover, you'll also be in position post-flop, giving you an advantage over controlling the game's flow and deciding the pot size. 

The BTN is advantageous since you can play the widest pre-flop raising range. You can include offsuit hands with Aces, Queens, Jacks and Kings and most, if not all, suited hands with broadway cards. Suited and off-suited connectors are also profitable to play when at the BTN. Moreover, you're also able to play your hand better because of all the

On the other hand, the CO and the LJ positions can still be profitable but with a much-limited range compared to the BTN. How the CO and LJ play in their respective positions is influenced greatly by the playing styles of the BTN and the blinds. 

Playing against a raise in the LP depends greatly on where the raise originated. If the raise came from another LP player, you'd want to play back at them by aggressively 3-betting or calling and playing in position. If the raise comes from an EP, then it's better to be cautious since they'd probably have a strong hand. 

  • The blinds

It's quite challenging to play at one of the blind positions. You're almost always out of position, especially in the post-flop rounds, and you're forced to post money without seeing your cards. It puts you at a massive disadvantage in terms of win rate. 

Arguably, SB is the worst position on the table because you're forced to place the poker ante bet and because you're guaranteed to play out of position both in pre-flop and post-flop. 

The best strategy you can employ from this position is to play a 3bet or fold strategy. Additionally, cold calling or calling another player's raise pre-flop is one avoidable mistake that poker players make in this position. 

On the other hand, the BB can be played with a call-heavy strategy. That's because you've already placed a bet, and you're closing the action pre-flop. This means you don't have to worry about being squeezed by players behind you. 

However, the hands you call depend on the position of the raiser. If it's from an EP, then you should make your calls on a tighter range. But if it's from the BTN, you can defend against it with an aggressive 3bet strategy because they have a wider range of hands. 


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Poker position chart: How it affects your game

To fully understand the ranges you can play per position, check the poker positions chart below which shows the hands that you can open raise during pre-flop based on position:

Position

Open Raising Range

UTG

77+, AQo+, ATs+, JTs+

UTG+1

55+, AJo+, ATs+, 98s+

MP

33+, AJo+, ATs+, A2s-A5s, 98s+

LJ

33+, AJo+, ATs+, A2s-A5s, A9s, 98s+

HJ

22+, ATo+, A2s+, 78s+, KQo

CO

22+, A9o+, A2s+, 54s+, QJo+

BTN

22+, A2s+, K2s+, Q2s+, J3s+, T6s+, 95s+, 85s+, 74s+, 63s+, 53s+, 43s+, A2o+, K3o+, Q5o+, J7o+, T8o+, 97o+, 86o+, 75o+, 65o+

Blinds

22+, A2s+, K2s+, Q2s+, J3s+, T7s+, 96s+, 86s+, 75s+, 64s+, 53s+, 43s+, A3o+, K5o+, Q7o+, J7o+, T8o+, 97o+, 86o+, 75o+, 65o+

Legend:

  • + - all hands that are greater than or equal to the stated hand or pair
  • o - off-suited hands
  • s - suited hands

The last to play during pre-flop is the BTN, SB and BB positions. They have a wider range compared to players in the EP and MP because they are the farthest from the UTG, which is the first to act. 

However, this range can only be advantageous to the blinds during the pre-flop round. That's because they shift to EP during the post-flop. That's when LPs get to take advantage of the game because they're the last to act, giving them a bigger range during the flop, river and turn. 

Advantages of position in poker

Being in position when playing poker has a lot of advantages including:

  1. Having a wide poker range

Being in a position allows you to have a wider range. Aside from this, you can also predict your opponents' hands with their position and actions according to poker hand ranges

For example, if someone from UTG suddenly raises, it means they have a strong hand or are bluffing. With that information, you can proceed with your strategy. You're also at an advantage because you have a wider range for your hand. 

  1. Information about other hands

One of the biggest advantages of playing in position is that you get more information about the opponents that they won't be able to get from you. Since you're the last one to act, you get to see them make decisions about their play before you make yours. This is more advantageous when playing live poker because you'd be able to pick up on their tells.

Moreover, you can exploit your opponents and their decisions based on their tendencies. This helps you gain the upper hand when playing. 

  1. You’re in a position to bluff

Playing in position, especially when you're the BTN, gives you plenty of opportunities to bluff your way to victory. Because you're the last to act, you can see opponents' moves before making any decisions. You also have a wider range than opponents, making it possible to bluff even if your hand is not as strong. 

Bluffing is a good strategy to win in poker, especially in the late positions. This can help you win in poker because you're manipulating other players to think you don't have a good hand even though you have one and vice versa. It can make players second-guess their decisions when betting and raising. 

The position is powerful in poker, especially with the BTN. That's because you can get information about your opponents before taking your turn. This also gives you plenty of room to manipulate them into thinking that you have a good hand even though you don't with the way you bet pre-flop and post-flop. 

  1. Control over the pot

When you're on BTN, you have the biggest say on the pot size you play since you close the action on any given street except for the pre-flop round. Because of this, you can make sure that your expected minimum bet applies on every street. 

If you're out of position, you won't be able to maximise the value of a street since those in the late position can check on the flop or river. But if you're in position, you can manipulate the pot and the player's actions on the turn and river by calling or raising. This can make the pot smaller than what you expect it to be. 

Why are poker table positions important?

Poker table positions can make or break your game. That's because certain positions give you a certain advantage over other players. For example, if you're on LP, this gives you a certain advantage over those in EP, MP and blinds because you have a wider range of hands to play. 

Being in a position also allows you to peek at the decisions of other players before you. That's because you're one of the last people to act, thus giving you the upper hand because of the information you can gather from their plays. 

With that said, poker positions are powerful. Where you are seated can influence how you play and whether you'd win that round. That's why it's advantageous to play in position so you'd get the upper hand both pre-flop and post-flop. 

That doesn't mean you can't win a game if you're out of position. With the right strategy and by playing tightly, you can outsmart the cockiest players on the LP. Just choose your hands right, and you can take control of the game even when at a disadvantage. 

With the right knowledge of the poker table positions, you're ready to take on various games at Bitcasino, including Texas Hold 'em Bonus PokerPoker 6+ and Bet-On-Poker. These games can hone your poker skills which can then help you make a winning hand.

Poker table positions FAQs

How are positions decided in a poker game?

Before a poker game begins, the dealer gives one face-up card to each player. The player with the highest card starts on the button, and the two players with the lowest cards will play the blinds. 

How to tell if someone is bluffing in poker?

During a poker game, a player's simplest movements can be considered a tell on their play. You can figure out someone is bluffing in poker through their body language, eye movement, verbal cues, breath changes and bet sizing. 

Is the late position better than the early position?

Playing at a late position gives you an advantage because you're one of the players to gain the most information and act last at a poker table. This gives you information on other players' decisions, which aids you in deciding how to act when it's your turn. 

How many players can occupy poker table positions?

Live poker games usually run with nine players, while online tables have six players. However, a table can have players between 2 to 10 people depending on where you play. 

What does 'in position' mean?

Being in position means you act last on the poker table. This gives you an advantage because you can garner more information than players who preceded you. 

What does 'out of position' mean?

Being out of position means acting first on the poker table. This puts you at a disadvantage because you have no information about other players before you call or raise. Other players can also take advantage of your decisions. 

What is the best position in poker?

The button or BTN is the best position you can take in poker because you get to act last. This coveted position gives you the highest win rate as a player. It's guaranteed that you're in a position in pre-flop and post-flop rounds. 

What is the worst position in poker?

Arguably, the worst position to be in is the small blind. That's because you must post half the big blind before you see your hand. Moreover, you'll be out of position at the post-flop rounds, which puts you at a disadvantage since other players can exploit your actions. 

How to use a poker position to your advantage?

Information is king when playing poker, and you can take advantage of it when you're in position. How do you do this? Start by gathering information from your opponents once the game starts. Note how they make their bets and how much they raise. Compare this to the hand range you've assigned to them to determine whether they're bluffing. 

You are at a vantage point when playing in position, so make the most out of it by figuring out your opponents' tells. 

Words by: Sunday Carreon


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The importance of Poker Table Positions in winning