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Some people (a lot of my opponents, thankfully) don't understand position.

Position is talked about often and I thought I would put out some of the really basic points I have picked up about why position and being "in position" is so important.

First, clear up one thing that some newer players make the mistake with.. position isn't decided until the flop comes, so the Big Blind & Small Blind, although they look like pre-flop they are the last to decide (and being last to decide is position right??) - this only happens on the preflop, post-flop you are now the first to decide and the worst position to play in the post-flop.

Anyone who acts before you (excluding when you are in the blinds) are out of position to you, so if you are UTG, you are out of position to all but the blinds and if you are on the button, you are in the strongest position.

So the goal when deciding to play in position is to be as close to the button as possible.

The two key spots near the button are called the cut-off and the hijack, the cut-off (CO) is 2nd strongest other than the button (BTN) and the hijack (HJ) is 3rd strongest. Most of the time you can ignore the Hijack unless your table is VERY weak, and focus on the BTN and the CO.

Now we know which positions are best, lets look at why.

Firstly, you know how your opponents bet preflop. You can see them limp, bet strong, raise, re-raise and whilst that TT looks good in your hands, if two players in early and middle position want to scrap it out, perhaps you can fold in that spot.

Also, this is one thing people miss, since you act last, no-one else can act after you. This is important because if you are in position and someone bets out, you know they could be strong but if you are out of position and bet out yourself, they flat call--- you now have no idea how good or bad their hand could be.

Preflop, whilst good position gives you the above benefits, the opposite happens out of position. UTG, AJ might look nice but if you bet and get raised, you might need to fold and thats just spewing chips --- whereas if you get the same spot on the BTN, its much easier to fold if you need to.

All this benefit, and we aren't even seeing a board yet.

Now, when the flop comes, you are in a massive advantage because if you hit your hand or not, your opponents action will help you determine how to proceed. If an opponent shoves the flop and you are holding Top pair, top kicker - perhaps you can fold whilst if you were first to act, you would bet it and get reshoved, again forcing you to fold and lose chips.

In addition, especially important when you are the preflop raiser, you give yourself bluff-outs.

This means that if a pair, trips, Ace or King appear on the board and it is checked around to you, depending on how weak your opponents feel and just how many of them there are, you can bet at it. The reason they didn't bet it is most likely because they can't beat the strong cards showing, they scare them and they want to either see a free card or wait until someone raises so they can draw cheaply if possible.

Raising here, especially if your opponents will believe you have a good hand can get a lot of opponents to fold. Its not always ideal to bluff from the BTN but its a handy tool to have and I guarantee you that whilst not everyone uses it, a lot of people do.

Additionally, if you have nothing and are out of position, if the BTN bets and you can't beat Aces with an Ace showing, you will fold -- he might be quite fish and just have a bottom pair but you arent going to want to pay to find out.

 

Then comes the following streets. No matter how far you get to either the turn or the river, your opponent will always know a little bit more about your hand than you know about his. If you bet, he can fold a weaker hand. If you try to bluff, he can raise you with a stronger hand, If you show weakness, he can bluff you easily and if you made you improve your hand he can easily get away from any  strong action.

 

So really, you want to make sure that if you are out of position, you have a hand that plays well post-flop, such as AA-KK-AK and if you are in position, you can play with much weaker holdings, ideally with a raise and give across a much stronger image than you ever could early on.

 

Also, there is a tell that shows depending on where you bet from and your style.

If you are loose, you can pretty much bet from everywhere and your position just means its easier for better players to pick a spot to crush you.

If you are tight, if you catch a good hand out of position, you will give it away with a strong bet and again easy to get out of if your opponent has position.

Sometimes you can use this to bluff if your table image/stats are good but often, unless you can stand to be re-raised, get away from any early position hands and give more value to lesser hands to play with.

 

Basically, the BTN and CO are your friend, use them wisely and avoid early position if you can, or unless you are desperate or have a monster.

 

As an exercise, play an entire game (use play money or very low stakes because this isn't gonna provide you a win, just to show the principle) just playing hands from the BTN or CO - even fold AA/KK early on.. do this for the game and notice how easy it is playing in position.

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