Many poker players, including experienced ones, have a very simplistic and basic understanding of positions. There are only two positions for them – the dealer and the blinds.
While this may be true in some games, most poker variations require players to have a more sophisticated understanding of the different positions, as they affect poker strategy.
So, to help out with this particular problem here’s a short poker guide on the eight positions in poker and the things you can do when playing in them:
The blinds are the two positions to the left of the button and are considered forced bets. The small blind is typically half the size of the big blind, and both players must put these blinds into the pot before any cards are dealt.
They are an essential part of poker, as they’re the ones that set the pace of the game and help to encourage action. Another advantage the blinds have is that they can play looser in later betting stages for two reasons.
First, they will finally be able to see the other players’ cards before making decisions. Also, more cards will eventually be on the board, giving them a better sense of their opponents’ poker hands in later betting phases.
The big blind is the next seat to the left of the Small blind and is also a forced bet. This player must put in a full-sized bet before any cards are dealt. The Big Blind is also a disadvantageous position before post-flop, so play tight to minimize losses here as well.
The small blind is the position to the dealer’s left and is considered a forced bet. This player must put in a half-sized bet, usually called the small blind, before any cards are dealt. This forces other players to call or raise because they know someone has already paid something into the pot.
It’s a difficult position to be in. It is generally considered a disadvantage, so it pays to play tight if you’re stuck in this position.
Under the gun (UTG)
Under the gun (UTG) is the position to the left of the big blind and is generally considered disadvantageous. The player in this spot has the first action pre-flop.
It pays to play tight if you are stuck in this position, as taking down pots without any information is challenging. As for bluffing, it’s usually best to avoid doing so from this position, as chances are the other players will have a better hand.
The UTG+1 is the position to the left of the Under The Gun Player and is slightly less disadvantageous than UTG. This player still has to make decisions without seeing their cards. However, they have some extra information from observing how the UTG acts. Therefore it’s advised to play a bit looser in this spot – but not too loose!
Middle Position (MP)
The middle position (MP) is the next seat to the left of UTG+1 and is considered a middle spot. This player gets to observe how the first few players act before deciding, giving them more information than those in earlier positions. It’s fair to play a bit looser in this spot, but make sure you can still be selective with your hands.
The hands you can confidently play in this position will depend on the number of players at your poker table. If there are a lot of players, you can afford to play slightly looser. But if only a few exist, it’s best to stick with tighter hands.
It’s also a relatively safe position to bluff from, as it’s unlikely that a player in an earlier position will call your bluff. However, it’s still important to be aware of the players in earlier positions, as they could be playing hands with which they would call your bluff.
The hijack is the position to the left of the middle position and gives players even more information than MP since they’re one of the late positions. That means they can play a broader range of hands without fear of being outdrawn by earlier players.
It’s also a great position to bluff from, as you can see how other players act before deciding whether or not your bluff has a good chance of success. However, it’s important to remember that you’re not the last to act, so you must be aware of how many players whose turns are after you.
The seat to the left of the hijack, the cutoff, is considered one of the most powerful spots at a table. The player in this spot gets to act last in pre-flop and has a good amount of information on how all players are doing. It’s a great spot to open up your range, as you have the last action and can take advantage of players who aren’t paying enough attention.
The button is the position to the cutoff’s left and arguably one of the most powerful spots at a poker table. The player in this spot gets to act last in every betting round and has access to the most information. They should feel free to open up their range, but again – not too wide, as they need to remain selective with their hands.
Also, this position rotates around the table after each hand and has a few advantages. Among them, the most important is that they always act last in pre-flop and post-flop betting, giving them the most information to decide.
Those are some of the basic positions in offline and online poker and how to adjust your approach depending on which one you’ll be in. Remember, each has advantages and disadvantages, so you need to adjust your poker strategies accordingly.
Be mindful of the number of players left to act after you, as this will determine whether or not it’s worth bluffing or opening up your range. Good luck at the tables!