In poker, your position is one of the most important considerations when deciding to play a hand or not. To give yourself the best chance to win, you want to play as many hands as you can in position, i.e., being the last to act.
Having position gives you a big advantage as you’re able to see what others do before making your decision throughout the hand.
All of this sounds good in theory, and it’s probably something you’ve heard countless times, but how do you actually apply that knowledge to your game? How exactly does being in a position help you win more money? If you’re looking for answers to these simple questions, then the three tips below for utilizing poker positions should help you.
Play as many hands as you can from the button
There is only one seat at the poker table that grants you “absolute position,” and that’s the button. When you’re on the button, you can be 100% certain that you’ll have the last say on the flop, turn, and river, no matter what. That’s a significant advantage on its own.
So, with that in mind, you should always look for opportunities to get involved from the button as often as you can. If there is no action in front of you, you’ll want to open with a fairly wide range of hands and stake your claim to the pot.
If there is a raise ahead of you, look for hands with which you can call or 3-bet. Poker is like a sport: you need to adjust your strategy versus different opponents, and if you find weak players in the blinds, you can play many more hands than GTO strategy would suggest.
The point is, you have the opportunity to be on the button once per orbit, so you want to make the most of that opportunity. Of course, you can still muck your weak hands and stay out of trouble, but you ought to try to expand your range of hands as much as you can get away with and put your inherent positional advantage to good use.
Fight for position
Unless you’re on the button, position isn’t guaranteed. So, every time you want to play a hand, you’ll want to give yourself the best chance actually to claim that positional advantage. This means that you want to play aggressively and always come in for a raise if you decide to play a hand.
By raising, you’re making it less likely that the players behind you will get involved because you’re making it more expensive to stay in the hand and you’re advertising that you’ve got a strong hand.
With this approach, you’ll often end up exactly where you want to be, playing against players from the blinds where you will have position. Of course, this won’t always work, so you should have a backup plan for when you reach a flop and have to deal with one or more in-position callers.
Understand the positional disadvantage of being in the blinds
Many players make a mistake of playing far too many hands in the blinds, feeling they have to defend the chips they have already put in the pot. With that said, the small and big blind are the two worst positions in poker, so there is no way to overcome this disadvantage completely.
In all likelihood, no player on the planet makes money from the blinds in the long run, so that should not be one of your aims. The best you can hope for is to lose less and that’s only possible if you’re smart about picking the hands that you play.
The problem with defending blinds too wide isn’t just the money you put in before the flop; it’s also about having to play weak hands out of position, trying to somehow guess what your in-position opponent might have. If you do this too much, you’ll be leaking money.
While you don’t want to let other players run all over your blinds, you need to have a reasonable defense range and make the best out of the situation. You can’t avoid being in the blinds, but you can learn what hands you should and shouldn’t be playing against players from other positions to create a very effective overall strategy.
Of course, everything changes when there are antes in play since that gives you outstanding odds to play even extensive ranges, even from poorer positions. However, if you are sticking to a regular cash game 100bb deep with no antes, defending too wide can be a costly mistake.