Playing Position Poker
The Importance Of Position In No-Limit Texas Holdem Poker
Position is not just desirable in no-limit Texas Holdem poker games. - it is as important as the cards you are dealt in ensuring that your play is profitable over time. Many of your opponents will fail to understand the role of position, steadily losing money by playing too many hands without positional advantage. This article explains why position is considered to important by no-limit Texas Holdem experts.
Position is important both before and after the flop in Texas Holdem. Before the flop position largely dictates which hands you can profitably play, based on the number of opponents yet to act. For example a small pair may be played differently with 7 opponents yet to act than if you were folded to in late position.
After the flop the player with the dealer button gets to act last - this player has the huge advantage of seeing what each opponent will do before they have to act. This is where the real strengths of position come into their own, the player with the button has the opportunity to lose the least when behind and win the most when ahead - by definition the key to being a winning Holdem player.
To illustrate this advantage imagine that you hold a medium pair, 3 players are in the hand and the flop comes J-5-6 (just one over-card to your 9's for example). If you are in first position in the betting then you will often need to bet here - you may be behind, but you need to protect your hand from missed over-cards such as A-Q. Now the middle position player calls your bet and the late position player puts in a large raise. You decide (correctly in this case) that your pair is beaten and fold.
In the above example checking may have also seen a bet from late position, but since you showed weakness you would not have been so confident in determining that you were beaten. Betting gave you this information - but at a price.
Now we take the same scenario but give you the button, if you see a big bet and even bigger raise ahead you can fold before investing any more cash. If your opponents check (showing weakness) then you can often take the pot with a bet here - whether or not you have anything.
The advantage of seeing what your opponents do before acting is even more marked if we give you a monster hand - say trip jacks in the above example. Now you can build a pot with a small raise when your opponents show an interest in the pot and slow-play when they appear weak (possibly gaining bets on future rounds). Compare this with being in middle position or first to act - where you will need to ‘tip off' the strength of your hand early, often scaring off opponents.
Over any reasonable sample of hands, good Texas Holdem players win the majority of their profits by playing in position - make sure that you take advantage of its benefits by playing more hands from the button next time you play.
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