A players table position
is one of the most crucial considerations in
any hand of poker, the player in the latest
position who bets last has an immediate
advantage over the rest.
So why is this? If you understand why then it will undoubtedly assist your poker strategy, and help on deciding when to play and when to stack.
Early position ? Seats 1 to 4
Successful poker is all about gathering information. The best players make the right moves at the right time based on what they have learned from their opponents to date and how they expect them to act in the future. When betting from an early position you are betting with little or no information available, and with possibly 9 players still to bet, your hand must be good enough to withstand a raise and a re-raise before or after the flop.
What this means is that there are actually very few playable hands from this early position. Only a huge pocket pair or the big slick (AK) can consistently stand up to raises behind them, and the potential of even those huge hands is notoriously difficult to fill. A big bet might scare off potential players, whereas a small bet might encourage small pairs and suited connectors to call from value behind, raising the possibility of you being outdrawn on the flop.
The most common move from an early position is check-raise. In other words feigning weakness when you actually have a big hand, with the intention of re-raising a player in a later position. The main flaw to this strategy is when nobody raises you, and you have therefore lost a good opportunity.
Mid Position Seats 5 to 7
Although the number of viable hands increases in seats 5 to 7 it is still a very dangerous place to play all but the top starting hands. An aggressive player may like to stretch the late position to include seats 6 to 7 but in reality pre flop their are still 5 or 6 players still to act who could be sitting with raising hands.
If the early players fold pre flop then the value of a medium pair increases and a bet could be justified from a mid position. Post flop the same could be said if the preceding players all check. However information is still very much incomplete and shrewd and disciplined folding is required more often than not.
Late Position, Dealer, Small Blind and Big Blind
There is no end to the benefits of late position:
Maximum information is now available meaning you can exploit any weakness around the table by betting, or very quickly fold if it is obvious that there are some strong hands around. Moreover the correct play depends less and less on what cards you have been dealt. You have the last word in the argument so can often win whether or not you are holding the strongest hand.
Bluffing is therefore easier and in the late positions you have a lot more control over the size of the pot. The only play to be wary of is walking into a check raise trap from one of the earlier players, but this disadvantage is a small price to pay for all the advantages of late position.