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You are here: Home arrow Poker Strategy arrow Importance of table position in Poker
Importance of table position in Poker
Written by Ryan Miller   
Sunday, 16 April 2006

Dealer Position in Texas Holdem When playing Texas Hold’em or any other poker variant, a player must consider their table position very carefully. Your position at the poker table might determine whether you decide to hold’em or fold’em. Your table position is your place at the poker table relative to the player acting as the dealer for the current hand. For those who are new to poker, there are two mandatory bets made by the two players sitting directly to the left of the dealer that start the first round of betting called Blinds. The Blinds are posted before any cards are dealt.

There are two mandatory blinds referred to as the Small and Big Blind. The Small Blind is the bet made by the first person to the left of the dealer. The Small Blind is the first person to act after for the rest of the hand, which makes it the worst table position for this round. The next bet is made by the Big Blind, the second person to the left of the dealer. This person is the second to act for the rest of the hand. In our table shot below, the Dealer is #10, the Small Blind is #1, and the Big Blind is #2.

The person that is to the left of the Big Blind will be the first person to act when the cards are first dealt (#3 in our table shot). Their position is referred as the player "Under the Gun." From here on out, the bets are completed in a clockwise motion giving the people who are farthest from the blinds the best positions on the table. The later your table position, the more information you can gather from the players’ actions before you giving you the knowledge to act accordingly.

Poker Table Position Strength

Let's look at an example
Let’s assume that we are on a full ten player Texas Hold’em table. We are in the Small Blind and look down at A 10. This hand is pretty good in most positions except for ours. The reason for that is that there are 9 other players who can easily have us dominated with AK, AQ, AJ, or a high pocket pair. We don’t really want to play against them because they will have the upper hand to raise or re-raise due to their position on us.

Since we were the Small Blind in the hand before, we will not be the Dealer or "on the button" for the next hand. This is the strongest position in any Hold’em game because we are last to act. We take a look at our cards and see an A 10 again. A good hand again, especially in our position. We watch as the betting progresses around the table to us and notice that we had a person raise the Blinds, the next player re-raises, and an extremely tight player has once again re-raised the pot. So we have seen a raise and two re-raises before us. Now your AJ doesn’t look so good because the tight player has only been playing hands like high pocket pairs or AK. Now we can get out of the hand because we are pretty sure we are beat and didn’t have to pay anything for the information. If we would have been in an earlier position and called, then been raised and re-raised twice after us, we would have wasted some of our hard earned money.

Let’s replay this hand again differently. We are once again on the button (we are the dealer) and look down at A 10. We notice that everyone folds to a player that has been liming in with moderate hands. We can confidently raise with our A 10 because we have a good chance of having the best hand. What we hope is that a person who likes to play cards like 10 8 or A2 calls our raise. Say the flop comes with a 10 or an A, they will probably bet and call your raises all the way to the river trying to improve their hand only to lose to our higher kicker hand.

In summary
The basic table position strategy goes like this; in an early position you have to play your hands very carefully. There are people to act behind you that will put a lot of pressure on you with a moderate hand. If you are in a late position on the table you can play a little more loose and pressure the players before you. Use the position of the table to your advantage and learn how your opponents play their hands. You will give up some hands when you were out of position that you would have won, but you are playing better poker and will be rewarded in due time.

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