Aug 4 2010

The Importance of Position in NLHE

written by: John under Poker Strategy Comments: Comments Off

The value of position in No Limit Holdem is, more often than not, extremely understated. Hand strength and the general ability to play any hand increases dramatically when you are able to play a pot in position. Position is what allows players to profitably call three bets pre-flop with random suited connectors.

Position is also what enables players to make light re-steals. When you are able to make all of your decisions after your opponents have already made theirs, there is little mystery left in any given hand. If your opponent leads out into you, there is a chance to fold your hand and lose the least. Position will also make bluffs easier on a variety of levels. Whether you want to make a bluff raise or float your opponent in an attempt to bluff later on, solid position makes it possible.

How to Utilize Position

There are a lot of poker players who talk about how they have position on someone, but these player often have no clue how to make this position advantageous. For example, if you are in late position and a light raiser opens for a raise, your position makes it much easier to three bet bluff. Not only will your opponent fear having to play the pot out of position after the flop, but you will also be able to get away from the hand relatively cheaply if they happen to put in another raise.

For the same reason that a lot of money can be saved when playing in position, a lot of money can also be made. It is easy to throw away hands when you are in or out position, but it is typically more difficult to extract value from strong hands when you are playing a pot out of position. When playing pots in position, you are able to effectively put in the last raise (or make the first bet) on each and every street. This makes it a whole lot easier to string your opponents along. If someone leads out for a small bet, you know that a sizable raise is in order. By contrast, if your opponent leads out with a large bet and you have a strong, but not dominant, hand, you know that it is best to simply flat call.

Think about how things change when you play that same pot out of position. You would have needed to determine just how big your bets needed to be, whether to call/fold/or re raise when raised, and when to check/call. There are so many extra dynamics that need to be taken into consideration whenever you are out of position. Sure, there are a lot of things that need to be considered even when you are playing a pot in position, but they are not nearly as unclear. The difference between playing in position and out of position is night and day. You are in the drivers seat when playing in position, but you are in the passengers seat and are at the driver’s mercy when playing pots out of position. In poker, control is everything, and that is exactly what position gives you.

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