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Position & Playing Style

Table Position

An introduction to the importance of table position in poker and how different hands play from early, middle and late position. Plus, why you should keep your eyes on the dealer button.

Good poker players are obsessed with "position" - specifically, their position relative to the dealer button during any hand of play. The dealer button not only determines which players post the two blinds (in the two seats immediately left of the button), but also the order of the action on all subsequent betting rounds.

Action in poker moves clockwise, away from the dealer. The player to the dealer's immediate left acts first and betting progresses all the way round the table until it reaches the dealer again. 

It follows that it is always best to be the dealer. On most of the betting rounds (and all of those post-flop) the dealer is the last person to act, which means he or she has been able to accrue the most information on the strength of the other players' hands.

If the opponents have all shown weakness, by checking for example, the dealer can bet and expect to pick up small pots. If any of the opponents have shown strength, with big bets or raises, the dealer can fold and lose the minimum from weaker hands.

Playing strategy alters depending on table position, with a nine-handed table being divided into early, middle and late position.


Early Position

Players in the two blind seats - the small blind (SB) and the big blind (BB) - are considered to be in "early position". Likewise the players in the two seats immediately to the left of the big blind.

The first of these, immediately to the left of the big blind, is said to be "under the gun" (UTG) because this player is the first to act in the pre-flop betting round and has no information at all on what his opponents intend to do. The player to his left, also in early position, is UTG+1.

Players in early position need to have extremely strong hands to enter a pot. They will be forced to act earliest and will have minimal information from their opponents.

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