Poker Position Guide: How to Play Position Like a Poker Pro

Poker is incredibly popular and widespread. With millions of dedicated players, it attracts lots of beginners and casuals. One thing these inexperienced players often lack is the ability to play position. An undervalued aspect of the game, many players don’t even know what position is. That is why, in this poker guide, we will cover everything you need to know about the concept of positions in poker.

What is “position” in poker?

In poker, “position” simply means the order in which players act. A player acting first is referred to as being “out of position,” while a player acting last is “in position.” Position helps determine which hands you should play based on your information on the other players. Throughout the game, the positions rotate clockwise after every hand, so it is essential to know how exactly to play in each position.

What are the positions in poker?

Each seat at the poker table is divided into four groups: Early position, middle position, late position, and the blinds. In this article, we will use a 9-player game of Texas Holdem to demonstrate position.

Early Position

#1: Under the gun (UTG): The name of this seat means being pressured to do something, like being held at gunpoint. This seat is the first to act pre-flop, so they are under pressure to make the starting decision of the newly dealt hand. Since everyone can react to you, playing only with strong hands is advised.

#2 UTG+1: Under the gun + 1 refers to how this seat comes directly after the person under the gun. While not the first to act, this is still a weak seat and should mostly be played similarly to being under the gun.

Middle Position

#3 Middle Position: Moving into the middle position, you should still aim to play conservatively. You have more options than early positions since you are less likely to run up against a better hand.

#4 The Lojack: This seat gets its name as a reference to how it is directly next to the Hijack seat. You get more options, but it’s far from the late positions in strength.

Late Position

#5 The Hijack: It is called that because raising from here is akin to hijacking or taking advantage of a late position post-flop. Raising from here is also sometimes known as stealing the button, referencing the idea of hijacking a vehicle and controlling the direction of the hand. It is a decently strong position, though the cutoff and button have much larger opening hand ranges.

#6 The Cutoff: Like the Hijack, the cutoff gets its name because of what raising from it does, as it cuts off the button and removes its positional advantage. It is a powerful position, supporting various hands, but it is not even close to the button.

#7 The Button: The best seat at the table, pro poker players are always aware of the button and use it to maximize their profits. This position acts third to the last pre-flop and acts last post-flop. This gives you an absurd positional advantage, letting you play the widest variety of opening hands, going all the way to low pairs like fives depending on your opponents. You can raise to steal the blinds, call others’ raises just to build the pot, and put serious pressure on opponents since they have no information on your hand.

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The Blinds

The blinds are special seats directly to the left of the dealer. They get their name from the blind bets players must make before they are allowed to see their cards; this ensures there is at least some money in the pot. Playing from the blinds is more reactionary than other seats; using more calls rather than starting raises yourself.

#8 The Small Blind: The worst seat at the table, the little blind acts out of position and has the least information. You should play conservatively, as every other player has a positional advantage on your post-flop action.

#9 The Big Blind: The big blind is the least profitable seat on the table because of the blind bet you must make to see your cards. While this is true, the big blind has at least some benefits. Since you have already invested in the pot, you can close the action and move to see the flop for free when the pot does not get raised.

Why is position in poker important?

Playing in position has plenty of benefits. The number one advantage of a good position is information. Since you act last, you see everyone’s actions, and they do not see yours until the end. Position allows you to control the game’s pace and the pot’s size. You can take “free cards” when your opponent checks to you since you know nobody behind you will choose to bet. When you want a smaller pot, you can check, or if there is an active bet, you can call and close the action. Having position also gives you a world of bluffing options. Being last to act helps you guess their reactions to your bets, such as how someone waiting on their draws and checking may get scared off by a relatively large bet.

Photo by Michał Parzuchowski via Unsplash

We hope this poker position guide taught you a lot about this lesser-known aspect of the game and helped you play like a poker pro. If you want to put your knowledge to the test, you should play Texas Holdem online on sites like GGPoker, the world’s largest poker room. Online poker has many benefits compared to physical poker, like playing many games at once and using software to improve your poker game. Sign up on GGpoker now!