Thursday Poker Blog!- Importance of Position

Welcome back to the Thursday Poker Blog!  Last week during our discussion of suited connectors, we touched briefly on the importance of position in poker.  When we discuss favorable position, we of course mean when we are seated at the dealer button or close to it, or at least closest to the button vis-a-vis our opponents after the flop.  We want to go last!  In his famous poker primer SuperSystem, Doyle Brunson stated that if he played heads up against a player, and he was given the button every hand, he could clean his opponent out without ever looking at his cards.

Here are a few ways in which position affects my play and probably should affect yours:

1) Hand selection– By hand selection I mean preflop holdings with which players either stay in with a call or raise or fold.  There are several hands that I fold in early position that I would raise with in late position.  Generally speaking, you don’t want to play very often in early position.  Accordingly, hands like AJ0, AT0, KJo, QJ, JT, suited connectors, Ax suited, KT suited or unsuited, should be mucked in early position.  Also, if your small-mid stacked and the blinds are picking up, low pairs can be expensive to play in early position. 

2) Size of your pre-flop raise– My standard raise preflop is 3x the blind until the blinds get to 100-200, when I usually start to reduce the side of my raise a little each round.  However, in early position (usually first or second position), I raise my standard raise to 3 1/2x the blind.  Again, with so many players behind you, you need to protect your hand.  Once you get a caller, the odds get sweeter for each subsequent opponent, and more so with every call after that.  Again, yes, sometimes you will wind up scooping up the blinds only with AA or KK.  But, I would rather steal the blinds with AA than go to a flop 5 handed with them.

3) Size of your continuation bets– Some poker announcers revere the poker pro who fires 3 or 4 bets at a pot (aka “firing bullets”) with a weak hand, admiring their guts for trying 3-4 times to convince their opponent that they have a hand.  I find that for every 1 time that your opponent finally believes you by the 3rd or 4th bullet and folds, there are 10 times where you get called or raised because a) your opponent has a monster hand and has been letting you give away your chips; b) your opponent feels priced in to each call as the pot grows bigger and bigger; or c) your opponent is simply too weak of a player to fold a marginal hand (unfortunately, his marginal hand beats your crapola!).  When I continuation bet after the flop from poor position, I typically bet a large amount, perhaps 80-90% of the pot.  I want to know where I stand right now.  If my opponent is a decent player, my large bet should get him off most drawing hands other than an ace-high flush.  If he calls me, he almost always has a made hand, which means I need help on the turn.  Generally speaking, if I still have total garbage after the turn after having a sizable bet called, I usually call it a day and check the turn.  The helpless feeling you get as your opponent scoops the pot with any bet serves as a reminder to play sparingly out of position!

Explore posts in the same categories: Poker Tips and Tales

2 Comments on “Thursday Poker Blog!- Importance of Position”

  1. nodonk4u Says:

    It took me at least 18 months to respect position. It was a tough concept to understand. It now seems like my opponents ranges are so much easier to discern when they must act first – almost as if they are playing with their cards up. Thanks for the insights. I’ll try to post something worthwhile soon….

    • Craig Salner Says:

      Yep, pretty much any time I’m in the middle of a hand and my thoughts are, “Great, what the heck do I do now?”, it is because I am out of position.

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