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Playing Table Position

by: Ultimate Poker Bonus

Table position is one of the most important aspects of poker. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your outlook) many novice players have trouble grasping this concept. Through life if you always had the opportunity to see what your competition was going to do before you need to react to it, how successful could you be? If you never had to be the one taking risks, but rather had the opportunity to determine your competitions success through your actions you would be very successful. The same principle applies to poker. By being in late position you are in the drivers seat.

Many poker players base their pre flop action on the cards in their hand. I base my play on the position I'm in. In most cases I always make a standard raise of 3.5 - 4 x's the big blind whether I have big slick or 6/5 suited. This works to my advantage by never letting my opponents base my cards on my raise. Rather than letting my cards determine whether I will play the hand, I base my decision on the position at the table. I determine what I will play based on what type of player has made a move. I get to see whether the tight player comes in with what you assume is a big hand, or the loose player is just trying to steal blinds.

As my table position improves, the value of my cards can be less to come into the hand. Obviously it would be rare to play middle suited connectors in early position, however if I'm in late position, and no-one has made a move I will. The remaining players must then decide if I hold a big hand or mediocre hand, and by always making my standard raise the pressure is on them to make the right decision.

Playing in Early Position:

If I am very early to act, I need a pretty big hand to push the action. I rarely will play with anything less than A-Q suited (other than playing small pocket pairs) The reason behind this is simple, to many players behind me can have a better hand than I, and force me out of the action. Say I limp in with A-rag or suited connectors, 6 to 8 players who act behind me can look down, find a big hand and raise the blinds. At that point I am forced to fold and donate my blind - I do not like to donate!

Playing Middle Position:

In middle position my options open up a bit. I will play cards like 9/10 suited and better if I am the first to act. Again by making my standard raise players do not know if I have AA or 9/10 suited, and again the pressure shifts. Its harder to call the bet than make the bet!

Playing Late Table Position:

If I am the first to act in late position I will almost always play any suited connectors, or big open straight flush draws like K/9 suited. I have found myself taking down bigger pots with this method more than any other. By being in late position and the first to act, the blinds must assume you are trying to steal the blinds. There are two key principles to being successful at this level:

  1. Know your opponent
  2. Be consistent

To many players try to protect their blinds and call or re-raise with mediocre hands. If your at the table playing against a player like this, big money can be made. By always making the standard raise, I will take down the blinds 50% of the time. However when the blind protector really does have a half decent hand and comes over the top he has no clue if I have KK or K/9 suited. When I do have a big hand I will re-raise and generally take down at least 12 x's the big blind. Many times it will go to the flop and a huge pot comes my way. Show your cards first when you have a big hand - show them again when you don't.

The same as above applies to a tight player. More times than not you will take the blinds down. Out of 10 rounds if I take the blinds 50% of the time I am over 7 x's the big blind to the good. Even if I have to fold two out of three times after making my standard raise I am even, but when I do have the big hand and a tight player re-raises, and I come over the top it takes a while to stack all those chips!

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