Playing Position in Poker
When playing Bitcoin poker, you need to think about a multitude of different things. One of the most important to bear in mind is your playing position, as this is going to have a massive impact on how you act in each hand. It’s also one of the more advanced things for players to learn, and understanding it should see your winnings go up almost instantly – providing you also remember the various other best practices in the game.
What are the Different Poker Positions?
Many of the positions in poker have their own names, and these positions are all worked out by looking at where the dealer button is (often shorted to just ‘the button’). So, here they are, working clockwise from the button:
- The Button. This is the best position, as after the flop, you’ll be the player acting last. This means that you can base your actions on how other players decide to play.
- Small Blind. One to the left of the dealer, this is a good position before the flop, as you act near the end. It turns into the worst position afterwards though, as you’ll be the first to act.
- Big Blind. This is two to the left of the dealer, and is a slightly stronger position than the small blind, however you’ll still be acting early after the flop, which is not preferable.
- Under the Gun (UTG). Perhaps the worst position overall, as you’re first to act pre-flop, and also in early position after the flop comes down.
- Under the Gun+1, +2 etc (UTG+1, UTG+2 etc). One position clockwise from the UTG player
- Mid Position. Where mid position is really depends on the number of players. It’s not great though, unless you can isolate players in earlier position. The later your position, the better.
- Cut Off. This is the second strongest position which sits one place anti-clockwise from the button. You’ll act late pre-flop, and will also act second-to-last after the flop, or last if the button player chooses not to go to the flop.
As you can see by the above list, the most important thing to remember is this: the later your post-flop position, the better your position is. This is because you can watch and observe how other players act, and don’t have to make bets without having any information about them. Of course, if you are in an early position and flop a monster hand, you shouldn’t shy away from betting it though – after all, you probably want someone to call in this instance.
Selecting Which Hands to Play
Any good poker player is extremely selective when it comes to the hands that they play. What’s more, they also change their range (the 2 hole cards they’re prepared to play with), depending on the position they’re in, and the action before them.
Those in early position generally have to be incredibly selective about their hands. This means that anyone playing before mid-position should only be getting involved in hands with premium cards – A-Q should probably be the minimum strength. It’s sometimes good to have an occasional punt from an earlier position with weaker cards, and helps you to avoid being transparently labelled a ‘tight’ player, however be prepared to fold your hand if someone else comes over the top of your bet with a raise of their own.
Those in mid-position can be slightly more expansive with their hand selection – but should play incredibly tightly if someone raises before them. Like early position though, playing from one of the middle positions isn’t the time to get clever with your cards – save that for when you are in late position instead.
When you’re in the cut off or on the button, you have the majority of the power at the table. You can watch what has happened before you, and then react appropriately. If someone raises, you can decide whether your hand is worth playing; if no raises have been made, you can make a bet even with a weaker hand. It’s this ability to survey the table before you act that gives you the upper hand.
Avoid Simply Calling the Blinds
If you are in early or middle position, you might think that simply calling the blind is the best thing to do. After all, this risks the least amount of money and you’re still in the hand, so it has to be a good play, right? Well, actually this is wrong, as calling is an incredibly weak way to play, and other players will know that you don’t have a particularly worthwhile hand. The result? They’ll put in a raise, and you’ll probably find yourself folding in the end anyway. Every big blind matters, and you should not take losing one lightly!
So, if you’re in early or middle position and nobody has raised yet, you have two choices: raise or fold. You should only raise if you have a really good hand though, so you’ll find yourself mucking your cards most of the time. There’s absolutely no shame in folding more than you call/raise – in fact, most poker pros would recommend it!
There Are Infinite Ways to Play
The above strategy for playing position in poker is a very solid starting point for any new or relatively inexperienced player. However, what makes Bitcoin poker so exciting is the endless strategies and tactics that can be deployed and justified. As you learn the game more, you will become more familiar with position and its importance, at which point you can start to get a lot more creative!