Your actual location in relation to the Dealer Button makes a huge difference to your decisions in poker. The further away you are from the Dealer Button, the more information is available to you before making your final decision in the betting round. The poker tables are hypothetically divided into the following sections or positions: the early position, the middle position and the late one. Early positions start with the Small Blind directly after the Dealer Button. Let’s assume that the whole poker table is divided into 10 seats, where 10 players are located during the game. Each section (position) is comprised of the certain amount of seats; each has its cons and pros.
The section of the Early Position
Seat 1 (small Blind) - this player has to make a small blind (forced) bet as well as to act first in every round from the flop and onwards.
Seat 2 (big Blind) - this player has to make a big blind (forced) bet as well as acting early in every round, seeing only the action of the player taking the position of the Small Blind.
Seat 3 (under the gun or UTG) - this player is the first to act after the hole cards are dealt. Players from here are likely to be playing only premium hands as they have so little information about the other players’ decisions available to them. Player raising from this position are most likely to be holding hands such as AA, KK or AK.
Seat 4 - the player sitting at this seat is also considered the one taking the early position. Again, players raising from here are likely to be holding premium starting hands.
When taking the Early Position you should only play strong hands as the chances that someone behind you will raise the pot are high enough and this can force you to either remain in a hand with a mediocre hand or throwing away chips because it suddenly became too expensive to stay in.
Seats 5-7 - as you may have understood, these are the seats of the middle position. Whilst you have a reasonable amount of information about the other players’ decisions available to you, it’s still not enough to play anything less than reasonably strong hands as again, you can easily be re-raised making it too expensive to stay in the hand.
Seats 8-9 - these are called seats of the late position. You can afford to be much more liberal in your choice of starting hand as most players have already shown their intentions by acting the way they did, and you should be in a position to attempt to reduce the number of players involved in the game in case you have a drawing hand.
Seat 10 or «The Button»
Finally, the last, but definitely not the least position, which is also referred to as the Button, called so for its closeness to the Dealer Button is the very best position at the table. Why? Because all the other players have already made their decisions and you had some really nice opportunity to read much more about the texture of the table or recognize the weakness of the opponents’ hands than anyone else in the pot. That’s why when you find yourself at the late position, keep an eye on the gaming process, raises, calls and, if possible, give maximum attention to the players’ overall behavior. This is also the best position to steal pots and you can be quite relaxed about the value of your starting hands.
Having Position on Another Player
This term is used to describe the situation when there is a player who always acts before you. This means that you have a big advantage over your opponent as you have some additional information on what that player is going to do or has done or which cards he has or is waiting to receive and that means that you can use this information to your advantage. For example, the player acting before you decides to check, it may mean that he has quite a weak hand, or is about to perform a bluff. The player who is the first to act is «out-of-position».
How to use Position - Two Important Concepts
There are two main concepts to consider before deciding on your future position.
So where do you want to sit?
It will always depend on your gaming style and experience as a poker player. You must also remember to analyze at least several hands at the active table before choosing where to sit. This gives you a huge amount of information about where is a prime spot as well as giving you the necessary information on the players before getting involved in a hand.
Who do you want in front or behind you?
Ideally in case you are willing to get your hand in reading your opponents you should want to have the aggressive players in front of you. That will give a nice opportunity to analyze their actions before making your decisions. As a matter of fact, aggressive players tend to raise a lot so you can see a raise coming rather than calling them (this may sound a little confusing, but this is exactly what will save you from getting trapped into a hand after calling and subsequently finding the aggressive player has made a large raise). More passive players will often fold to your bets and won’t raise often, so theoretically you want to have them sitting after you. Do not be afraid to leave a seat in order to change position if you find that the circumstances have changed not to your credit.
In case you are happened to occupy the middle or the late position, you can also raise the pot even if you have a poor hand. By making the passive players fold in most cases you can take the pot there and then, but if you get called you can still take the pot on the flop if it hits your cards.
By using this method which is favored by a lot of pro players, on the late position you’ll have the control over the hand and that will allow you to see other players’ actions on the later rounds as well. Effectively you have «created position».