Whether playing tournament poker or grinding it out on the cash tables of PlayersOnly Poker, the use of position in poker is an important concept to grasp. Basically, the later we are to act in a hand, the more we know. The more we know, the more likely we are to make profitable poker decisions regularly. Utilizing relative position in poker, as well as absolute position when playing poker is imperative to the long term success of a winning poker player. Failing to grasp the concepts of absolute and relative position will make the difference between winning in poker and losing in poker.
Understanding Absolute position in Poker
When I speak of absolute position in poker, I am referring to where one is sitting at the poker table, relative to the button or the dealer. In a poker hand, absolute position remains unchanged.
If we are on the button, we remain on the button. The blinds are the blinds throughout the hold em hand and so on…
The poker table works in a clockwise manner. The person to the immediate left of the dealer receives the first cards, and the person to the right of the dealer receives the last cards. The two individuals to the immediate left of the dealer are known as the blinds.
They are forced to place bets, with the small blind typically placing a half bet, and the big blind placing the full bet on the table. Despite their punishment, they are the last to act in a betting round before the flop comes.
They benefit in a sense, as they get to observe how everyone else views their hand before making their own decision.
However, this benefit works against them, as they already have money on the table and often feel compelled to call a raise. This logic is flawed, however. In poker, we prefer to make informed decisions, leaving the guesswork to the rookies.
The blinds are the first to act after the flop. They will act before everyone else for the remainder of the hand and will not have the luxury of first seeing everyone else’s actions once the flop comes.
Over time, this can become quite costly for those inclined to play too often out of the blinds.
Utilizing Absolute Position in Poker When Acting First
The earlier position we are, the better our hand should be and the higher our standards must be. With that in mind, players acting first, or hands in the early positions should generally be among our best starting hands.
We can relax our playing and raising standards the later position we sit, because we have more information already available to us.
For example, we are playing .25/.50 no limit Texas Hold em at a full table on Carbon Poker. We are second to act preflop and are dealt 8-7 of hearts.
While I love this hand from later position, we will fold the hand, as there are too many players left to act behind us. These players have absolute position on us, acting later than we do.
They can make it really expensive if we limp into the hand. Additionally, should we choose to raise, we might get reraised – again, a potentially expensive date.
Because we do not have any information on the strength of several hands at the table, we are best off folding the hand.
Utilizing Absolute Position in Poker from Late Position
When playing on the button, or in later position – we have the luxury of seeing everyone play before us.
In a sense, we have been granted the opportunity to watch the game play out from an outsider’s perspective before we are asked to join the game in progress. We are able to process the information before acting.
As a result, we make better, more informed and highly profitable decisions when acting last in a Texas Hold em hand. For this reason, playing from the button is the most profitable position in poker.
We want to act in later position more aggressively. We profit by causing the early position player to think, putting the tough decisions on them, testing them. We do our best to maintain pressure on the players acting before us.
Let’s take the same 8-7 suited that we played from early position at Carbon Poker and play it from the button. We can now watch most everyone else act first. We observe two weaker players limping into the pot.
These players typically raise with quality hands and often try to limp for cheap flops. They are not terribly tricky in their play.
We interpret their limping into the pot as weakness. Remember, we have absolute position on them, which is quite the tactical advantage in this poker hand. We decide to put in a sizable raise.
The blinds fold, one of the two limpers call.
The flop comes out, he checks because the flop missed him. We put out a continuation bet, causing the player to fold.
We win the pot, because we paid attention to the information players in late position receive.