Position in poker refers to where you’re sitting on the table in relation to the dealer button. It is one of the most important factors in a game of poker. Playing out of position is one of the most common mistakes made by amateur poker players. It often makes them vulnerable to moves made by players in position. Similarly, playing in position allows one to impose his/her will on others.
What “Playing in Position” Means
Playing in position means, that you are the last one to act. In a game where no one straddles, the person holding the dealer button is always the one “playing in position”.
In Texas-Holdem, there are 169 starting hands. As a beginner it’s best to keep it simple by only playing when you have a really good hand given your position. As shown in the picture below, there are generally 4 positions where one could be categorized. One’s starting hand/pre-flop range depends on which category one belongs to. Sticking to these starting hands will also make your post-flop decisions much easier.
There are a lot of factors that affect the range of your starting hand when you’re in this position. Hence, for beginners, I would suggest that you refer to the early position starting hand range to make things easier and less complicated.
This is the worst position to be in as you’re the very first person to act. In this position one should play less than about 7% of their hands. This might sound a little conservative, but as a beginner or even an intermediate player, it’s best to fold anything but JJ, QQ, KK, AA, AK or AQ.
As your position improves you can increase you range of starting hands as there will be less people left to act and your position will improve after every betting round. In this position you could play any middle range pocket pair, i.e 7 pair and higher, and A10, AJ, AQ & AK. It doesn’t matter if the combination of your face cards is suited or not. Your position is decent enough for you to get into the pre-flop action with them.
Late Position/On Button
This is undoubtedly the best position to be in. I would suggest not just calling the blind but raising with any pocket pair, J10+, Q10+, K8+ and A and any other suited card. But if someone has already raised before you, I would reduce my range and only call with, 55+ A8+ and any combination of face cards.
In lower stake games players usually tend to raise out of position with mediocre hands that they overvalue. It is situations like these that being conservative and playing hands within your range will lead you to win these hands. For example, players siting in middle position often tend to raise with A and a low kicker. If you have position on them and play within your range, sitting with A too, most of the time you’re going to be dominating their hand just because of your kicker.
Once you get a bit more experienced and start to sense how tight or loose your opponents are, you can start increasing the range of your starting hands. But till then, do yourself a favor and only stick to the basics.
This article is written by Sai Dutta, an advent poker player, who plays 72 as pocket A’s.