The Importance of Position in Poker


The Importance of Position in Poker

Where one sits at a poker table definitely matters so it’s an important consideration before joining any poker game. According to many winning poker players it matters a huge deal so much so that not choosing a right seat can cut your win rate in half.

Choosing the right seat at the right game is not about trying to avoid someone who has a stench of cigarettes or bad body odor. It’s not live poker specific, the same concept also applies whenever you are playing poker online.

Playing poker is also not about trying to find those “lucky” seats at the table, which can no doubt be an endless search on those days when it seems like your draws are always missing and you’re getting bad beats. Bad players rely on “luck” and hitting miracle cards, good players play strategically and use good judgement to find profitable spots to make money.

Trust me when I tell you there is no such thing as playing in a “lucky” seat. It ain’t a lucky seat, it’s just that poker players love to be superstitious. Poker players have very good memories, especially the bad beats that would have occurred sitting in this or that seat. But this has nothing to do with the outcome of the hand. Bad beats are just a part of the game, and would have occurred regardless if you were in Seat 1 or Seat 7 at the table.

You might then ask the question: “If there are no such thing as lucky seats then why is the position at the table so important?.” Well, sure enough there aren’t any lucky seats, but you can bet some seats will be more profitable than others, depending on where players are seated in relation to where you are seated.

When playing poker, the betting action happens from right to left in a clockwise direction. This means the players to your right on the table will have to act before you do in any given round of betting. Also, when you’re closing the action “on the button” and “last to act”, this will provide itself with many opportunities for you to isolate weaker players and out play them post-flop when it’s just heads-up.

Why is this so profitable? Because their weak/tight style of play will mean they will be folding a lot post flop, you don’t even need a big hand to continue to represent strength after the flop. It is also common sense that if you get to act last after your opponent has already made his/her decision, you will gain an advantage over him/her, since by getting to act last it will help you to make a more informed decision.

That said, a person might figure that the positional advantages must equal out in the long run because every player has someone to his right he can take advantage of and whilst this may seem like a valid argument, because of all the different playing styles you will encounter at a table the equation is a far more complex one then one might first assume.

There are going to be players who can use their positional advantage better than others (i.e. the more competent aggressive players), and players who aren’t positionally aware at all (novice players that don’t understand the importance of position in poker) so it’s going to be easier to take advantage of them.

The ideal scenario would be to have the fish/weak players to your right, so you can isolate them and milk them for all their worth. You also want the aggressive players that will be looking to put maximum pressure on opponents to your right, as they will have to act first.

Using the same logic, you would want the tight player who folds often waiting patiently for a premium hand to your left, as it would allow you to play more aggressively in late positions, since you won’t have to worry about very aggressive players who are always looking to re-steal your late position opens since they know you are raising a wide range of hands. By playing more aggressive, I mean playing more speculative hands. It’s hugely profitable to open up your game because you’re not always relying on making a hand at showdown, quite often your aggressive line will take down the pot pre-flop or on the flop.

Of course, position in poker is a lot more complicated than what has already been suggested. Having position in a hand will help to minimize your losses and maximize your profits, due to the additional information you will have at your disposal. Against a good player, it’s going to be tough extracting lots of value since you will have to take a more aggressive line in the hand, revealing your hand strength, whereas in position your opponent will be betting into you.

In position, you’ll also get to take free cards when you need them after it has been checked to you. Since you’re closing the action at the end of each betting round, you decide how big you want the pot to be later in the hand, and sometimes you’ll want to control the size of the pot as you’ll have a medium strength hand or a draw that needs to improve to become the winner.

Even though searching for information in poker strategy books and browsing the web for additional poker strategy advice is a good way to open yourself up to new concepts and strategies for improving your own game, make sure you don’t forget the basic fundamentals of the game, that will always hold true, like the important of table position.

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