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Your POSITION Of Power In Holdem

In Hold'em poker, the importance of your position in relation to the dealer can not be stressed enough. The reason for learning position is that the later your position is the more information you will have about the other players. If you are in the last, or dealer position, you have the most information of all the other players, because they all have to act before you have to make a decision.

There are hands that you would throw away, without a second thought, in one position and raise with in another. The problem is learning which position is best for each action.

The first point that you must learn is where the positions are at the table.

  • Early position: any one of the first four places to the left of the dealer button;
  • Middle position: any one of the next three places to the left of the dealer; and
  • Late position: any one of the next two or three positions including the dealer position.

The starting hand requirements for each position are quite different

  • Early position: You want to play only premium hands such as high pairs, high suited connectors, or high cards. This is because you don't know what is going to happen after you have bet or called. For this reason only cards that can stand a raise should be played.

  • Middle position: You still need quality hands. Because the chances of raises are less, you can play more marginal cards. In this position you can start to play drawing hands and medium pairs.

  • Late position: You can play lower pairs and smaller drawing hands, if the conditions are right.

Play before the flop

  • Early position: Play only high pairs such as AA, KK, QQ, and JJ. Play high cards such as AK, AQ, AJ, KQ, and KJ suited or unsuited. With AA, KK, QQ, AK, and AQ you need to raise or reraise to drive out drawing hands that may beat you later.

  • Middle position: In this location you can start to play weaker hands like medium pairs such as 10's thru 7's and drawing hands such as A10, K10, QJ, Q10, Q9, J10, and J9, suited or unsuited.

  • Late position: Here you can play small pairs and suited high cards such as Ax, Kx, Qx, even Jx if there hasn't been a raise before you. If there has been a raise, before the action gets to you, you should fold all of these hands. High cards (AK, AQ) should be played without raising, in this position, because you aren't likely to drive anyone out and they are still drawing hands after all.

Play after the flop

When you have seen the flop, you have seen over 70% of your hand. This means that you must decide whether to bet your hand or to fold.

  • Early position: If you do not have a strong hand, and you are pretty sure that the other players will call, it is best to check and see what the others are going to do. If you have top pair, it is best to bet or raise to take away the drawing odds (covered in another article) for those players on a draw. Also this is the time to consider a check raise if you are sure someone will bet and you have a very strong hand.

  • Middle position: Here you should think about being more aggressive with your marginal hands, if no one has bet before you. A bet here may drive out hands that could beat you later on or may already have you beat. Again bet your top pairs and made hands. This is not a position to go for a check raise as you may end up giving someone a free card.

  • Late position: This is where you want to play your middle pairs and semi bluffs aggressively. If no one has bet or raised before you, the chances are that no one has a hand they are that proud of, and you may be able to take the pot right now.

By the time you have reached the turn and the river you should know how strong your hand is in relation to the other players. With a little study and experience you will know how to play your hand. For the most part, try studying your opponents and act in ways they don't expect.

In the beginning try to concentrate on what position you are in at all times. As you gain more experience at the tables, you will find that knowing your position will become automatic and you won't even have to think about it.

Good Luck

Authored by: Robert Myer, Webmaster of Beginner's Online Poker Guide, as well as a poker player for over 20 years.

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