Friday, October 23, 2009

Texas Hold'em

Texas Hold'em - Winning With Position

When playing Texas Hold'em, one of the most important factors to consider is your table position. It is also one of the most overlooked elements in a new player's game. Your position in poker is where you are sitting relative to the "button". As the button rotates every hand, so does your position. Whether or not you decide to play a hand and how you play it should always be heavily influenced be your position.

There are basically 4 positions in Texas Hold'em. These are early position, middle position, late position, and the blinds. Most people consider the blinds late position pre-flop and early post flop, but I prefer to list them as their own separate position for the sake of simplicity. Let's look at the 4 positions and how they should affect your game. Keep in mind, these are fundamental rules and specific circumstances will change the way you play hands in different situations.

Early position in Hold'em is the two positions just to the left of the big blind (BB). This is when you need to be the most careful. Before the flop (first set of community cards) is dealt early position players are first to act. That means that everyone gets to see what you do before they have to do anything. You should petty much stick to playing premium hands in early position. Playing marginal hands here can easily wind up with you trapped in a hand against a monster. I recommend raising with premium made hands (AA, KK, QQ) in early position and raising or limp/re-raising (limping in and re-raising a single raiser) with premium drawing hands (AK, AQ). You should almost always continuation bet the flop unless you know it hit your opponent.

Middle position in Hold'em describes the next two players to act after EP. MP is played a lot like EP, except that you can open up your starting hand selection just a little. Add JJ and suited AJ to the mix here, but be prepared to bow out if things get scary. If an EP player raises, you should fold all but premium hands. If an EP player limps, be careful. He could easily be limping with AK or AQ.

Late position is the player on the button and the player just to the right of the button (called the cut-off position). In Texas Hold'em, late position is king. Here is where you get to open up your game a bit. You can add a much bigger range of starting hands to your arsenal. In fact, if the table folds around to you in late position, you should be raising with any two cards that have good post flop potential. Suited J-10, 88, and suited A9 all start to look really good in late position. You have already seen most of the players act, so you get to use their actions against them. You also get to act after them in the later betting rounds, which gives you an opportunity to outplay them.

One of the most difficult positions to play in Texas Hold'em is the small and big blinds. You already have chips committed to the pot before it is your turn to act and everyone is trying to raise your blind. The good news is that you often have the correct pot odds to call raises, since you already have in the pot. The bad news is that unless you are really really good at playing from the blinds, your position will put you at too big a disadvantage to be able to outplay your opponent post flop. In less you can see a flop cheaply, or have premium hole cards, I would fold.

Texas Hold'em is really all about position. Have a little patience and play according to your position and you can be a winner at the Hold'em table. Good luck!

By: Steve Schafer

Before you play another tournament, make sure you head on over to Steve's Poker Strategies site for more great poker winning tips.

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