Poker table positions

Positions in Holdem

Position at a poker table is determined in relation to the position of the dealer’s button. Analyzing your position at the poker table and its importance for the game is a very complex task, but the main point is – the later you play (within a round of betting), the stronger position you have, since you will see how other players acted so far, thus being able to make a better decision on how you are going to act. One of the most well known sayings in poker is ”position is power”, and it is indeed true, as you will see from the following analysis.

  • Small Blind: Position on the dealer’s left side. After the flop, player on this position must play first
  • Big Blind: Position left to the small blind. After the flop, it is also one of the early positions, as it plays right after the small blind.
  • Under the Gun: Player left to the big blind. Pre-flop, this player is forced to play first, without being able to see how any of the other players acted, which makes it very unpopular position (thus the name “under the gun”). After the flop, small blinds opens every betting round, and player on this position wait for the small blind and the big blind to make their move.
  • Dealer’s Button: Also called “the button”, “the dealer”, and so on. This is the most favorable position, since player on the dealer’s button acts last in all after-the-flop betting rounds. That give him or her great tactical advantage over all other players.
  • Cut-Off: This is the position to the dealer’s right. At full ten-handed or nine-handed table, this position provides the great opportunity for what is called the blind stealing. The name “cut-off” comes from the fact that this player act before the dealer, thus having an opportunity to cut the dealer off from the play.
  • Other positions: All other positions are labeled as “early”, “middle”, and “late position”, in accordance with the order of play. The blinds and under-the-gun are early positions as they act first, the cut-off and the dealer are late positions since they act last, whereas all in between are called middle, early, or late position, depending on their position and total number of players.

The best positions in a Holdem table

In general, being in a late position gives you advantage, regardless of the type of the game you are playing. Still, note that this is especially important when playing a No-Limit game. Let’s look at one example. Imagine your position is left to the big blind (under the gun) and holding Q10 (unsuited). You called the big blind since those cards are good enough to play with. However, player right after you raises, and all others fold. You are in a quite unfavorable position. You are assuming that the player who raised have better hand than you do, so in terms of chances, he or she is in the advantage over you. Thus, you can either fold and forget about the money you called the big blind with, or you can call the raise and wait for the flop with statistically bad chances of winning. None of the two is very good for you obviously.  Now, let us assume you have the same hole cards (Q10, unsuited), only this time you are on the button. Now all players fold and it is your turn. The first option is to fold and leave the fight to the blinds. You can also call and wait to see what happens with blinds and on the flop. In every betting round that follows, you will remain the last one to play, so you will have the advantage. Finally, you can try to “steal the blinds”, by raising, hoping that both blinds will fold, leaving their money to you. All three options have their advantages and week sides, but obviously, in any case, you are in much better situation than you were in the under-the-gun example.

Playing from a late position always gives you the advantage over the other players. For instance, in case one of the early-position players raises, most other players will assume he or she has a very good hand, and fold. On some occasions, one or two players might call that raise. In any case, you will wait to see all that happening, and with analyzing the pot, the opponents, and your cards, you will be able to make much better decision on whether to fold or not.

The element of position plays big role in relations between the two players sitting next to each other. For instance, if an aggressive player who often does blind stealing, is sitting to the right of passive, tight player, it is fair to assume that the aggressive players will steal many of the passive player’s blinds throughout the game.