Thursday, 19 November 2009

The Concepts of Position and Starting Hands


Position means the seat you are sitting in at the table, in relation to the dealer button "The Button."  Look closely at any table and you will see that the button moves round in a clockwise direction one seat every hand.

Before the flop the player after the big blind acts first, and the big blind will act last.

After the flop, the small blind acts first, and the player on the dealer button acts last.

The dealer button therefore determines who acts first in any particular round of betting.  The further away from the button you are, the better position you are in.  The best position to be in is to have the button.

In other words, it is always beneficial to act last because you get to see what everyone else did before making your decision.  This is the concept of "position."

In most card rooms, and on Pokerstars and Pacific Poker, where we are going to be playing, there are 9 or 10 players at each Holdem table.  From here onwards, when I talk about position I am referring to where you are before the flop.

Early Position (EP):  The first 3 seats after the big blind.

Middle Position (MP):  The middle 2 or 3 seats.

Late Position (LP):  The last 2 seats.  (The button is therefore the very last seat in late position.)

The Blinds:  For the purposes of this course you should consider the blinds to be Late Position before the flop.

Starting Hands:

This refers to which hands you should play and which you should fold before the flop.  There is an optimal strategy for starting hands, which I am going to teach you in this module.

Your position at the table also has an effect on the hands you can play.  As an example, let's say you are dealt A6s (Ace Six Suited) and are acting UTG (under the gun = first to act before the flop).  This hand should be folded.

However, if you are dealt the same hand in LP (late position) and nobody else has entered the pot then it is a hand to raise with.  Your position at the table has changed a hand from being unplayable to being one that should be raised.

This emphasises the importance of information.  The more you know about your opponents' actions, the more hands you can play.  The only way you can know about your opponents' actions is if they act before you.

In early position you do not want to play A6s and then have someone raise further down the table.  Their raise probably means they have a better hand than you and you now have the dilemma of either calling and getting dragged into a betting war or folding and losing your original bet.  By folding your A6s in EP (Early Position) you won't encounter this problem.

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