In poker, position refers to the order in which each player acts. A player’s poker seating position can be the difference between winning and losing a game, especially when they’re playing Texas Hold‘em or any other pot-limit and fixed-limit game.
For example, playing your move after every other player on the poker table can give you an upper hand. This is because you have vital information about the purported or actual value of the hands at the table while everyone else acts on guesswork.
So, if you’re curious to know why poker positions are so important, keep reading this article.
Why Is Position Important in Poker?
Poker table positions matter significantly. Unfortunately, new players often get them wrong, but understanding these two fundamental concepts may clarify your confusions:
In the preflop betting round, players can either play from the early, middle, late, or blinds. The further breakdowns depend on exactly where you are seated, which will be discussed further ahead.
In contrast, a player’s seating position doesn’t matter during post-flop. It’s a lot simpler because you can play poker out of position if you make your move first or play in position if you get to make a move last.
The more important thing to remember in this case is that these two concepts are related. When you’re playing from an early preflop position, it’s more likely you’ll play out of position during post-flop. However, if you play a game from a late position, it’s almost certain that you’ll be playing in that position for the rest of the game.
It’s essential to remember that your starting position on the table will be a vital factor for determining whether you play in position poker post-flop or not. Seasoned poker players know this, and it has a significant impact on their opening strategy when looking for Texas Hold‘em positions.
Sounds interesting? Let’s dig deeper to find out more about poker table positions. Make sure you read till the end because we’re also going to spill the tea on the best positions in poker!
What Are the Positions at the Poker Table?
Poker experts use several abbreviations and nicknames for the various seats at a poker table. However, terms like cutoff, Lojack, UTG, and others are hard to understand for beginners. So, to save you the trouble of looking for a poker-specific dictionary, we’re going to go through different positions in poker.
Position: At the left of the dealer/the button, unless you play heads up
Even though the small blind moves second last in the opening round, they have to act first in every round. Additionally, the player always has to pay a blind without knowing what other opponents may have in their hand.
Statistically, this is the worst position on a poker table because you will always be out of position post-flop.
Position: At the left of the small blind
Paying the double amount of the small blind is bad, but for what it’s worth, at least you’ll get to act at the end of the preflop. However, in the big blind, you’ll have to put money on blinds without any guarantees, and on most occasions, you’re going to be in a long-term deficit. So the best thing you can do is fold early on to save yourself from significant losses.
Thus, this is the worst position on the table in terms of winning rates.
Position: The ninth seat on a nine-handed table
Out of all the table positions in poker, this one is easily the best because your hand ranges start opening up when you’re in the later positions. Several experienced players open at least 40% of their hands in this position which often causes other players to fold, making the button untouchable. Aggressive players can also open more than 40% of their hands, which may be risky, but it can also pay off in the end.
Position: To the right of the button
There’s famous speculation that this position got its name for cutting cards when the deal was passed around. Nowadays, it’s only considered to be a seat at the right of the button. But, as you may have guessed, it’s the second most advantageous position.
However, the CO is a great spot to steal blinds from.
The Hijack (Middle Position)
Position: Two seats to the right of the button
Since cutoff and button steals are common, this seat was popularised as the “hijacking” position since players in this position began stealing the blinds before the last two positions on the table had a chance.
The Lojack (Under-the-Gun)
Position: Three seats to the right of the but
This position is often called UTG (under-the-gun) in a six-handed game, which means this player must act first. However, calling LoJack “UTG” on a nine-handed table wouldn’t make sense since there are earlier positions on the table.
Since a full handed table can also have 10 players, the early positions became:
Since the UTG acts first on preflop, the LoJack is sometimes referred to as UTG on short-handed tables. Moreover, if a table is five-handed, the hijack will technically be the UTG. However, this may be confusing to beginners since the UTG changes positions based on the size of the table.
However, the first player to act preflop is always in an early position, regardless of whether it’s full-ring or six-max.
Under-The-Gun, Under-The-Gun+1, and Under-The-Gun+2
Position: The three middle seats between the Big Blind and The Dealer on every table
Abbreviations: UTG, UTG+1, and UTG+2
We’ve listed these positions together because they have similar characteristics. It’s likely that a player is out of position post-flop and has several players acting after them preflop. From these positions, a player can only save themselves by playing premium hands. All in all, it’s not a great place to be, and you’re going to have to stick to a tight range.
The Role of the Button
The dealer’s button or the poker button is the circular object that is on the table which decides the order of the play. In the game, automatic bets are placed to tempt players into getting involved in the game. This also ensures more money is in the pot after every game so that players run out of money and new players get a seat on the table.
The increasing action makes the game enjoyable to watch for spectators and more exciting for the players. If there weren’t any automatic bets in the game, players would wait for the best hands to participate. To avoid this, the game has two blinds that need to be posted in every round:
- The Big Blind
- The Small Blind
In every game, the poker dealer button tracks whose turn it is to post the blinds. The button goes around the table in a clockwise pattern. The player on the left of the dealer posts the small blind, and the next player posts the big blind every time.
When the hand ends, the poker button moves one place clockwise on the table. Now, the person who was posting the big bling is going to post the small blind. Several poker tournaments have increasing blinds. Therefore, if players want to keep playing, they need to win games, or the blinds would dwindle their stack of cash.
If you have an aggressive personality on the table, raising while you’re on the button may look like you’re attempting to steal the blinds. As a response, players will defend the blinds with low-value hands, which you can use to your advantage.
Preflop (the early position) is the seat on the left of the big blind. On a larger table, this can include the following two players as well. Making good decisions while playing in the early position is challenging since you don’t know too much about the players or their hands.
When you’re in an early position, you have the best chance of winning when you play a premium hand. However, it would help if you keep the following things in mind:
- Hands with two high cards like A-A or K-Q can look good, but they can quickly get you restricted after the flop.
- If you want to trap your opponents, try doing a re-raise. The best hands to do this with are K-K, Q-Q, and A-A. Call the bigger blind, and then follow that up with a raise, and finally the re-raise. This trick can work when you’re on an aggressive table since raising twice isn’t going to set off alarm bells.
- When playing with pairs like J-J and 10-10, mix up your game between calling and raising.
The best middle position strategy is to play conservatively. However, you can still play a few combinations of hands in comparison to an early position. Since the two players before you have folded, it’s less likely:
- You’ll be up against a strong combination
- You’re going to have to play out of position post-flop
The three late positions are:
- The Cutoff seat
- The Hijack seat
- The Button
Usually, individual names are used for these betting positions since they require distinct strategies and varying risks. Even though this may seem like a lot to take in, remembering these different names won’t be difficult once you have some practice.
Hijack usually plays more hands than the middle position. Although, the numbers genuinely start to go up when we talk about the cutoff since fewer players are left to act. Players often consider the Hijack the best position since you’re always acting at the end while playing on the button post-flop.
The blinds are a discrete kettle of fish.
For starters, every player playing a blind has to pay a small “fee” before seeing their cards. Meaning they put in money without seeing their cards first, hence the name. Secondly, when a player is on the blinds, they’re most likely to react to another player’s raise rather than make one themselves.
Because of this, players have to use a different strategy. For example, players call more often while playing from the Big blind. Moreover, two other redeeming traits of the Big blind are that since you’ve already invested money into the pot, you’ll have the opportunity to close the hand by seeing and calling the flop.
Six-max tables are usually a lot more aggressive, and in many ways, if you only remove the first three seats from a full-ring table, you’ll have a six-max table. However, player names also change since the first player to act in a six-max table is called under-the-gun instead of MP+1 on a full ring table.
On the other hand, the small blind is the worst seat since you’re always out of position and have the least information.
Texas Hold‘Em Positions
Newcomers on a Texas Hold‘em table may often ask, why are poker positions so important? Since the game uses blind systems that rotate around the table, understanding positions is crucial.
Here are four reasons why positions matter in a game of Texas Hold‘em.
Higher Bluffing Opportunities
Let’s suppose an opponent out of position checks you and shows a sign of weakness. If you’re going to be the last to act, you can put pressure on players like these by pretending to have a stronger hand.
Positions are so important that when players are in stronger positions, they often utilise the positions they’re playing from more than the cards they have.
When you have a better position than your opponents, you can take a “free card.” If an opponent checks on you, you get to see the following community card without calling.
For instance, let’s suppose you have a Jack and Nine of clubs, and the table has a:
- 10 of diamonds
- Four of clubs
- Two of clubs
Your opponent had to bet first, and they’ve checked. In this case, you can bet too, but you have the option to see the free card and see if you can complete your flush.
Predicting the Opponent’s Move
Another reason poker positions are so important is that they can help you predict your opponent’s next move!
An advantageous position can make it easy to predict your opponent’s actions before you play your move. Whether they bet big, bet small, or check (often a sign of weakness), they will give you valuable information with every move.
That’s what the game is all about; making decisions based on information that isn’t credible. The more you have, the better your chances are!
Acting at the end of every post-flop helps you control the pot size that you play for. This is a valuable benefit because if you want to play for a small pot and then the opponent decides to check, you can check too. Then, if they bet, you can call or fold to keep the pot small.
However, if you want to play for a larger pot, you can raise and increase the size of the pot whether a player bets checks or folds.
The simple fact that the moving button ensures that all players on the poker table get to play from every position should be enough to tell you why poker positions are so important. If the button didn’t move, there would be no way to fairly spread the positional advantages of the poker table.
Although, playing from weaker positions can have advantages too. Players in these positions can raise or check and then use that as an effective post-flop play. However, our final advice is to play more hands from the stronger positions.
What are the positions in Texas Hold‘em?
The answer to this depends on the number of players involved.
If you’re playing a full ring table with nine players, the positions are:
- Small blind
- Big blind
- Under-the-gun plus 1
- Middle position 1
- Middle position 2
But if you’re playing a six-handed game, the positions are:
- Small blind
- Big blind
What are the positions called at a poker table?
There are three different kinds of positions you can take on a poker table, they are:
- Early positions
- Middle positions
- Late positions
How do you know what position you are in poker?
You “have position” over a player if you’re acting after them, and an opponent has position over you if they’re acting after you. Since the game is played clockwise, you’ll “have position” on the opponents sitting towards your right.
What is BB and SB in poker?
BB is an abbreviation for Big Blind, and SB is an abbreviation for Small Blind. The player sitting immediately after the dealer places the small blind, and the player after the small blind places the big blind. Unfortunately, they are often considered to be weak positions.
What is the best position in poker?
The best position is the button/the dealer.
What is the worst position in poker?
The worst position is the small blind or the big blind.
What is the hijack seat in poker?
The seat before the button and cutoff is called the hijack seat. It’s called “hijack” because players on this seat hijack blinds before the players on the cutoff and the button can.
What is UTG in poker?
UTG is an abbreviation for under-the-gun. It’s a seat on a poker table that is on the left of the big blind. This player acts first before the flop.