There are so many aspects and situations in poker that it is difficult to generalize a single topic. However, for the beginner, these topics set the fundamentals for any good poker player.
Today’s beginner topic is about position.
Position is probably the most important concept all winning poker players must understand.
Position refers to the where you are at the table in terms of when it is your turn to act.
Let’s assume you are playing at an 8-person table. The small blind (the position to the left of the dealer) is in the worst position while the dealer is in the best position. Why? Except pre-flop, the dealer is always last to act. This means the person on the button (dealer) will have the most information of any player when it is their turn to act. Whereas the person in the SB is first to act.
Position can be broken down into 3 different locations: early position (EP), middle position (MP) and late position (LP). If you tracked winning players’ earnings, a bulk of their winnings will have come from late position. In other words, winning players play most of their hands in late position, and they play them aggressively and know how to play them well. This is because they know how to exploit the power that late position affords a poker player.
Having position puts you in a very powerful position. Being OOP, or out of position, puts you in a very weak position.
Let’s say you are in the small blind and there are 2 other people in the hand. Someone with better position than you raises pre-flop and gets a call. You also (foolishly) call with A8o. The flop comes 6-A-K. You’re first to act, what do you do? You cannot bet because you have two other people left to act behind you that probably have a better Ace than you do. If you check and the initial raiser bets, you will probably have to fold. By calling a weak hand from a weak position you have just put yourself in a bad situation you should have never put yourself in in the first place. The correct move is to fold pre-flop (now, if this came down to you and the BB only, then it would change everything. But playing blinds is a post for another day).
Let’s take the same hand but now you’re in late position. It folds around to you. Here, you raise with your A8o and two OOP players call. If they both check, you can bet and probably take down the pot. If one bets, you can make a decision to raise or fold. The difference here is that you have all possible information you are going to get to make your decision; thus allowing you to make a better, more informed decisions. Being OOP does not afford you this luxury.
Position is the beginner’s/novice’s most powerful ally. Understanding how to play and exploit your position while learning to avoid bad situations from weaker positions is key to playing winning poker.