What You Should Learn About Poker Positions

Mon, 06 Oct 2008 10:54

What You Should Learn About Poker Positions

In every competition, position is always a determining factor of who wins the game. In chess, pieces are sacrificed to gain positional advantage. In baseball, the team who bats last holds an advantage when only one run is needed for the home team to win. In football, the team with the wind blowing from their back holds an advantage. In volleyball, having the correct position against the offense of the other team will effectively increase the chance of blocking the ball.

Some smart people believe so much in their mathematical and logical ability. For them, it is so reliable in poker that losing a game is next to improbable. Here’s a lesson in poker position -- how it varies in every poker game. Later in the article, let us examine how “smart” people think and why they do not make good at poker.

The value of position vary in poker games

In poker, particularly Texas Hold 'em, position is valuable. Your goal is to make your opponents decide before you do. You want to have the last say, or the last word. In Hold 'em, nobody would not have much of the best things, that is a common situation. Your decision would be based on how to play with nothing to win that pot. When your position is superior, it does not always say that you will always have better bets. But in war, the general that positions his troops in a familiar terrain always has the advantage.

Position in Texas Hold 'em is a no-brainer. If you will be last, and two players are in a pot, that is best. Seasoned players will likely play more hands when placed in a late position, less hands when in early ones. Being in first or second position behind a maniac, or being in front of a maniac may yield some positional advantage also. However, to be the last one to move is a clear advantage.

In 7-Card Stud and Stud High-Low, position is very much different. Here, position is variable. The highest board acts first beginning fourth street, so if king high bets first on fourth street, another player who gets a pair deuces or an ace might act ahead in the fifth street. In Stud, to be in the immediate right of an opponent player is not always a positional consideration as the game is more complicated. When not in high hand, there are certain hands that should be more advantageous, and some hands becomes more advantageous when you decisively act first. When an opponent is aggressive, showing immediately an ace or a king, they tend to become compelled to act first in successive hands, and in this situation, some hands can be played in an aggressive manner.

When comparing Omaha High Low to Hold 'em, positional complexity could be seen in greatest contrast. Being in the last position generally has continuing advantages but there are disadvantages as well. Bluffing good players when in the last position is a kiss of death. In Hold 'em, bluffing in the middle position does not give any advantage. In Omaha, the middle position is the best position to make a killer bluff.

However, the advantage of being in the middle is not always true in the case of Omaha High Low because it is a game of shared pots.  Middle positions could be very difficult to play when you have a nut hand and an early positioned player bets on another nut hand. A lot of players play poor in this situation, and that makes it still fortunate for you. One strategy is to raise a nut in high hand to drive out bettors behind, ending up splitting the pot with an initial low bettor. Usually, the right way is to just call the low bettor and expect overcalls – but this will not be correct at all times. If you expect that a player behind you has a low nut, raise the high hand to get two bets into the pot from the low hands instead of only one.

In Texas Hold 'em, the basic concept is that being last is the best position. This is out of the picture in Omaha. Usually, a low hand is advantageous to the first bettor. Possession of the nut in high hand would be best when in last position. Betting first is action killing if you have the nut flush on the river against two or more players. Getting called is the best opportunity you can have in this case. When you are last and you have the nuts, two possible scenarios are favorable: a bet in front of you, or a check-raise bluff by an opponent who thinks you are just bluffing. In another possible scene, betting on low from an early position can cause scrambling as players in the later position struggle to drive each other out. It is also possible that there is another nut in low play and betting will likely make that player sluggish to avoid raise in any of the three situations.

Playing Hold 'em compared to other poker variants has many complex considerations that make it totally different. For instance, it is more important in Hold 'em than in Omaha to win in most of the situations when others do not have much of anything. Position matters in most cases, but in Stud and Omaha, positions are very much variable than in Texas Hold 'em. Pros advice is to “think on your feet” when playing Stud and Omaha.

Before moving to other poker games, Hold 'em players must concentrate on developing the skill of manipulating position more deeply.