Important Characteristics of Poker Position

What is Position?

At every betting round, players act in turn. The first to act is at a large disadvantage because his action takes place before he has any information about the strength of other players’ hands. That is what we mean by positional value. The first player to act has a reduced hand value because of his lack of information, and the last player to act has an increased hand value because he has more information available before he has to act. Every time another player acts (folds, calls, bets, or raises) you get information about the value of his hand, and, accordingly, the value of your hand. Accurately evaluating that information is, of course, another story.

Risks of Early Position The first player to act has to do so with no information about the hands the other players hold. In a typical ten-handed game, the under-the-gun player has to decide whether to bet or fold while facing a field of nine other players who have given no indication of the strength of their hands.

The table below summarizes the effects of this lack of information on the decision to open the betting. Note that the percent of hands you can safely open with goes up meaningfully only after four or five players have folded.

You should play only very strong hands from early position. It takes a powerful hand to beat nine other players. Speculative hands without high card value should generally not be played from early position. You want to see the flop as cheaply as possible with speculative hands and playing them from early position puts you at too much of a risk of a raise. The exception is when the game conditions are consistently loose or very loose, and you know that there will be many callers with weak holdings.

When your position is more toward the middle or late position of the field, you can loosen up somewhat. If four players ahead of you have folded, and no one has yet bet, you only need to beat five random hands and can probably open with much weaker holdings.

Hands to Open the Betting With a Raise Percent of hands that are usually playable under s struggle for ante perspective by number of players left to act.

Number of players Percent of hands that who haven’t acted you can open with a raise 9 6% 8 7% 7 8% 6 9% 5 11% 4 13% 3 17% 2 24% 1 50%

Note: The percent was calculated based on a comparison between the odds you are getting from the blinds and the probability that you can beat “n” random hands, where “n” is the number of players left to act.

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