The Elements of Hold’em: Position
Now that Bovada Poker is back up and running, this is a golden opportunity to take a closer look at the game of Texas Hold’em. This is still the most popular game in online poker, and people are playing at a higher level than ever before – but not everyone out there is Phil Ivey. If you’re new to Hold’em, or you just need a brush-up (and we all do from time to time), you can check out our Introduction to Texas Hold’em. This Texas Hold’em series will delve into the fundamentals that go into playing Hold’em at a high level, starting with one of the most important concepts of all: position.
Hold’em is a multi-player game where the players act in turn, clockwise around the table. Hold’em is also a game of incomplete information. As a result, it’s almost always to your benefit to go last. Consider chess, which is a game of complete information – everyone can see all the pieces on the board. In this game, the player controlling the White pieces go first and have an immediate advantage. In Hold’em, the player who goes first is like a soldier stepping into an uncharted minefield. Everyone who follows gets to react accordingly. If you’re last to act, you’re said to have position on your opponents. Being aware of your position is absolutely critical to playing winning poker.
Position is Power
At a full-ring or 6-max Hold’em table at Bovada, the pre-flop action starts with the player under the gun. That player is at a considerable disadvantage; with so many people waiting to pounce, opening with a hand like Ace-Ten offsuit is asking for trouble. However, if the action folds around to the player on the button, there are only two players left to get through. Opening Ace-Ten is very strong from this position.
Post-flop, the small blind is first to act, followed by the big blind, then any other remaining players in the pot – again, moving clockwise around the table. If you opened from the button, that means you always get to act last post-flop. It’s an incredibly powerful position; you’ll make more money from the button than any other seat at the poker table. Conversely, you’ll lose the most money from the small blind when you play full ring or 6-max Hold’em. Heads-up is different since the small blind acts first pre-flop (read our Pre-Flop Texas Hold’em Strategy Guide) and the big blind acts first post-flop.
By understanding the power of position, you can learn to make the best Hold’em plays based on your seat at the table. As a very rough guide, consider playing more aggressively when you’re in position with big bets and big raises, while playing more passively out of position. It’s just the right thing to do – and a profitable way to do it.