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Saturday, 30 July 2011

Out of position is out of action!

Obtaining information is the most important part of poker, it is required in order to make a correct and calculated decision. Most tables seat 9 players, which is dissected into three parts: Early, middle and late position. These seats represent the order in which you ACT. Its important to realize that different strategy is required in each seat. Well, not a different range of cards but more a different style for each seat.
This post will give my opinionated approach on how to and what (not) to play in the respective seats.
- Let's start in early position: the blinds. The small and big blind are to the left of the dealer button, acting last preflop and first after. In this position you are already invested or half invested in the pot! Its recommended to open up your range of hole cards in this seat provided there are no raises or a call gets value for money. However, this doesn't mean be reckless just to protect your blind - the key is to use the pre-flop information delivered by your opponents at the table. The way in which the action unfolds will advise your bet. In these two seats players are betting infront of you so the pot could be of significant value and a bet will be advised because of the pot odds.
The next position is under the gun... I call this 'cautious'. Because its just a dangerous position unless your very sure about the strength of your cards as well as your ability to read the players at the table. My range of cards shrink tremendously in this seat. I would even fold A 6 in this seat, mainly because I don't know the strength or weakness of my hand compared to my opponents. Occasionally however, I will fire a raise from under the gun with cards just less the premium. But from this seat a continuation bet regardless of the flop might be required, not only to 'exclaim your strength' but also to find how your opponent feels about their cards.
Middle position requires a simple style, from this seat hands like 67 suited can be useful because there are only 2 maybe 3 players still to play - many a time has a raise from middle position managed to get players in late position to fold leaving me last to act.
Finally, the most preferable and informative position, late, on the button. This is a situational position in terms of the actions. You will always be last to bet, so take full advantage of any signs, signals or tells you can make on your opponents.
I struggled for weeks, pondering how to explain the value of the different positions at the poker table. But the main focus at the table would be to gather as much information before you can make a calculated decision of which hands to play and it allows you the information to make tells, and figure out what cards your opponents can have. In summary, from early position play tight as you are the first player to GIVE OFF information, stick to premium cards, don't forget to continuation bet when using the occasional looser hand. Middle position allows you to loosen up and incorporate some suited combinations. Late position will give you enough information to open up your aggression and range.
* I read a quote the other day "play tighter at loose tables, and looser at tight tables."

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