Poker Strategy - Playing Position in NL Holdem

Position is one of the most common terms used in poker and many new players have a complete misunderstanding of what this is. Simply put, position is where you sit in relation to the dealer’s button. Using position as a strategy to play poker allows you to pick up some hints while playing in hand. Since the deal always goes clockwise if you are in late position you will have the opportunity to see how the other players at the table react to their hands. If it is a live game this obviously means you will be able to pick up on subtle tells. While playing online poker you won’t have the advantage of tells but you will have the advantage of how a player bets to determine the strength of their hand.

Each position at the table has its strengths and of course obvious weaknesses. The player seated to the left of the big blind is the absolute worst position at the table since they will be forced to act first without knowing how the other players at the table will react to their hands. This is why the consensus of starting hands is always play the top cards in this position or fold. Whereas the button is the best position since you will have seen how each player acts and can play accordingly.
This of course is dependent on the format of the game and stakes. In a limit Holdem game players are less likely to use position due to the actual odds of calling bets where as a no limit game it’s absolutely critical especially in tournament format.

A player who is in early position with a semi decent hand of QT would normally fold. The reason behind this is because if that player decides to play the hand they will need to at least put their blinds in. Now without seeing how other players act, that player puts them self at risk of not only calling one big blind but being raised out of the pot or seeing a raise that makes them self almost committed to calling the bet. In most cases, not always but most, the raiser has a better hand than you so unless you hit the flop you are ultimately wasting your chips.

The late position player however has a greater amount of leniency in the hands they will be able to play. If a player in late position was dealt QT and the pot was raised before them they would know that their hand is more likely to be beat and can fold based on the other players decisions to that raise. While on the opposite side if there was no raise than it could be assumed that the other players at the table have less than optimal hands allowing LP to bet his hand and maybe scare people off the pot.

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Playing position is critical to allow you to win more pots as well as save you money over the long run by giving you the information you need to make correct decisions.

Written by Christine Davies

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