What Is Position?
Think of position as simply where you are seated at the poker table relative to the big blind. If you are in the first three positions after the big blind, you are in an early position. If you are in the last three positions before the small blind, you are in a late position.
Why Position Is Important
Here are some reasons why your position at the poker table is important both pre-flop after the flop:
1. If you are acting in the first three positions after the big blind you are at a disadvantage since there are so many players who act after you do. These players can find a premium hand and force you to either fold or call a raise with the worst hand.
2. If you are acting from the button or the cut-off position, you are at an advantage since you know the action that took place in front of you, and you will have position throughout the hand. As a result, you can make better decisions and make plays to put pressure on your earlier opponents or try to steal the blinds.
3. If you are in the small blind, you are in the worst position since you must act first from the flop on.
4. If you are the pre-flop raiser, it is to your advantage to have position on your opponents. Again, you want the action in front of you since it gives you additional information which can help your decision-making. And, if you flop a big hand, it is easier to build a bigger pot when you have position on your opponent.
5. Overall, when having position on your opponents, you have more options on how to get the most chips in the pot. Of course, you can also use a bad position relative to your opponent to your advantage.
How To Take Advantage of Your Position
1. Let's say you are on the button and two players have limped into the hand. You find Q-J offsuit. While players tend to call with this hand to see a flop, you can make a raise to try to get your opponents to fold. This play is more effective when you have not entered a pot in a long time, and your opponents tend to fold to pre-flop raises.
2. Now, continuing with the above example, let's say you get one limper to call your raise. Even if the flop misses your hand, since you have position on your opponent you can make a continuation bet to try to get him to fold.
3. Another classic example of using position to your advantage is a squeeze play. A simple example of a squeeze play is when one player raises pre-flop, another one calls that bet, and a third player makes a big re-raise. This bet squeezes the first player--as he not only has to decide if his hand is better than the re-raiser, but he also has to worry about the caller. This is a great play to use in no limit tournaments to win a big pot.
4. Of course, the most common plays to use position to your advantage is when no one has entered the pot, and you are in a late position or the small blind. Acting first allows you to attack the blinds and try to steal them with a pre-flop raise. Every hand starts as a battle for the blinds--so try to win the battle with a position pre-flop raise.
5. You can also turn your bad position to your advantage. Let's say that three players have limped into the pot, and you check on the big blind with Q-J offsuit. The flop is 2-2-6. You check, but the last player to act bets. If you call, it will look like you may have caught the deuce. Being in the blind gives your opponent pause that you have a "big blind special." A lousy starting hand that got just the right flop to end up with a monster.
6. Another example where acting first is an advantage is when you are on the big blind and there are three callers. The flop comes Q-8-2 rainbow. Everyone checks. The turn card is a 5. This pot is ripe for stealing as no one has shown strength on the flop, and you act first. A bet here will usually take down the pot.
There are many ways to take advantage of your position in a no limit poker tournament. Look to use your position as a key tool in accumulating chips. As you recognize more opportunities to use your position, you will find that it can be more important than your hole cards.
Learn to use position to your advantage in no limit poker tournaments.