Understanding the importance of position in poker

Sep 30, 2020

Poker is a game of information. You know your cards, you try to guess your opponents’ cards. There are also community cards. The rest? You have to guess. How do you do that? The poker position gives you access to a lot of information.

The important thing is not necessarily your cards, but those of your opponents. Why is that? By accurately evaluating your opponent’s hand, you will be able to pull off moves that were not necessarily intended for you. You will also be able to extract as many chips as possible from your opponents when you have the nuts. All of this is possible thanks to the positional play in poker.

Cool, but how do I evaluate the strength of my opponent’s hand?

By observing the other players, you will be able to detect their habits. How they behave at the table, how fast they play, how they handle their chips, the tone of their voice, the size of the bet, their posture, etc… . Relate all this to the texture of the board, break down the move backwards, and with this information at your disposal, you should be able to put your opponent on a short hand list. Proceed by elimination. Each action of your opponent will allow you to eliminate a few hands from this list, so you will finally have a relatively accurate idea of your opponent’s hand. This is called playing.h

Okay, I understand what reading is all about. But what does it have to do with position in poker?

Don’t be so impatient! You’re in trouble at any other poker table. Here we go. What’s it got to do with it? Just like you, your opponent will also try to read you, to detect a sign of strength or on the contrary a sign of weakness. Do you feel strong when you’re maxed out? Maybe it’s time to push your stack and squeeze out as many chips as possible from your opponent.

What is the position in poker?

Positioning is being the last one to talk, to act. There are many positions in poker. Simply put, there are the players who are at the beginning of speaking (the first to act), those who are in the middle position and the players at the end of speaking (those who act last). If you have the dealer button in front of you and decide to play the hand, you are guaranteed to have the position.

Get to the point! Why is the position so important?

Yes, yes, we’re getting there. By being at the end of your speech, you will have many advantages.

First of all, your position at the table will influence the selection of your starting hand. A hand can be attractive at the end of a speech, but very difficult to play out of position. Basically, you will broaden your hand selection based on your position. To make a long story short, you will play strong hands at the beginning of your speech. You will expand your selection to the right hands in the middle position. Finally, you will add hands with interesting potential at the end of the speech. Of course, nothing is set in stone and you can decide to play small connectors at the beginning of the speech. The important thing is to deceive your opponent. Look strong when you are weak, and look weak when you are strong. Now that’s a brilliant sentence. I’m going to write it down somewhere.

Information thanks to the position

By playing in position, you will have the advantage of talking after your opponent and acting on the information he has given you. Every fact and gesture of the players reveals a lot of information. For example, on a board Q99, your opponent makes a small continuation bet. You seem to detect from this shy bet and your opponent’s attitude a sign of weakness. Your connectors 78 have not hit the flop. Is that a reason to give up the move? You are almost certain that your opponent hasn’t found his flop either. If you think you can scare him away, raise him by turning your hand into a bluff! This would not have been possible out of position. Or by making a check-raise, that’s right.

Stay alert and listen to your opponents. The position in poker is a gold mine that will give you an undeniable advantage. The final table is yours!

Pot size control

By being the last to act, you should be able to control the size of the pot before going any further. If you want to keep the pot small and your opponent has checked, you have the option to check as well. This also gives you the opportunity to get a free card. If you want to make the pot bigger, bet or raise when it’s your turn to talk.

Poker position in brief

In short, by playing in position, you will be able to:

  • widen your selection of starting hands
  • have access to more information than your opponent
  • bluff more easily
  • maximize your big hands
  • control the size of the pot
  • Conversely, if you play out of position, your opponent will enjoy the benefits of playing in position.

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