Tired of people calling you FISH? Learn your POSITIONS then!
This is the first in a series about positional play in No Limit Holdem. Once you are finished reading this intro article, make sure to read about specific strategies relating to playing in the Early Position and Middle to Late positions.
If you just started playing Texas Holdem online, and just continue to lose hand after hand, and tournament after tournament, that is fine by me. But if you don’t want to keep giving me all your money, you better learn something fast!
The first thing that you need to wrap your head around that might seem confusing at first is your position at the table, and how it affects how you should play. If you’ve been making your plays based solely on your draw, then it’s no wonder you lose all the time, you shmuck!
So let’s go over positions, using PKR’s awesome 3D interface. If you are new to real poker tables, this should help you too. PKR is my favorite place to play, just because it has the most interesting look for a real money poker game. It’s also great fun to use the animation and voices to put players on tilt when you win their money :) (use deposit code JERK1000 if you deposit at least $1000, to get a 100% bonus on that, or use JERK100 to get a good 100% on up to $600).
So this is what a table looks like. Me, and 9 losers ready to lose all their money to me. I am sitting out here, so I can take screenshots.
To make things simple, I named that geek who keeps checking his hole cards Loser 1, since he is on the button. He and the two losers to his right have late positions. He has the latest position, which means he is the last one to decide if he wants to take action. The guy on his right has what’s known as the cut-off position.
The two “girls” (yeah right) in this screenshot are the blinds. Those two, along with Loser 4, have the early positions. This means that they are the first ones to take action at the beginning of a round. This is a major disadvantage, because they have no idea of the players who act after them are going to call, raise, or fold.
Here’s a good example; let’s say Loser 4 above has Q♥ 10♠ . Automatic call, right? Not so fast. There is a high chance that at least one of the other players will have a better hand. And even if nobody does, seven of them will have position on him in the later rounds.
Now let’s say that Loser 9 has that same hand, and everyone folds before him. That means that there are only three players left who may have a dominating hand. In this case, he will probably want to raise, so Loser 1 (the only player who acts after him) folds. If they call, he still has great position in the next betting rounds.
That is why, if you are in the early position (either one of the Blinds, or Under The Gun) then you should be playing fewer hands overall. As a new player, you must keep your position in mind at all times. This is the one thing that new Texas Holdem players can learn that will significantly improve their play.
Finally, we have the middle positions. Middle position players have some of the same disadvantages of the early positions – they can see what the early position players do, but still have to keep in mind the late position players. Generally, they can open raise with a few more hands than earlier players, because there is less of a chance of someone in the later positions having a better hand.
Here’s another screenshot, to make things simple for you. I have a feeling that’s the only way you’re ever going to learn anything. Remember: Purple have the Late Positions, Orange have the Early Positions, and Blue have the Middle Positions. I should note now that late position before the cut-off (Loser 8 in this picture) can sometimes be considered a middle position, depending on how aggressive and loose the next two players are. Same goes for Loser 7 – that can sometimes work like a late position seat.
By now, I hope you have a basic understanding of positions. That basic info should help you at least with your pre-flop plays. I have taken much money from losers like you in the Small Blind, thinking that posting half a blind is worth it for your J♥ 3♠ and other similar cards.
It gets much more complicated after the flop though, as positional advantage can change from round to round. Let’s say there are three players left after the Flop, and you are the first person to act on the Turn. You have a mediocre hand, so you check. The next player bets, and the third guy calls. This means that you now have good position, and knowledge about the other players as there can’t be a raise after your call. At least, it’s better than the third player’s position, who must act without knowing what the fourth player (or you, when the action comes back) will do. Of course, you’ll end up being the first to act again on the next round, but you can play the same way, with a better idea of where everyone is at.
Also keep in mind that position is always relative to the other players. For instance, if you raised Under The Gun and everyone except the Big Blind folded, you are now in last position after the Flop. You would now have the same positional advantage as though you were on the Button. If you raised in Middle Position, and two players in late position called your raise while everyone else folded, you would suddenly find yourself in early position, with everyone else getting to act after you in the coming rounds.
That’s it for now. In my next strategy article, I am going to go into more advanced strategies which you can use with positional advantage in mind. Be sure to sign up to my RSS feed, or subscribe to my newsletter (to the right of this page) to stay up to date! It’ll surely be the smartest thing you do all day.
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