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Poker Life: Position, position, position

Fri, Sep 30, 9:20am by Poker Guru

I remember when I started reading poker books and they always kept talking about the importance of position. How you should play tight in early position and loosen up on the button. I never followed those rules. If I got pocket 6’s under the gun, I would play them even though the books said I should only play a hand like that in late position.

I also remember a phase where everyone was playing such weak hands from the button that it was impossible to make a successful bluff from the button. A small raise pre-flop from under the gun though would always get a lot of credit. So if you wanted to steal the blinds it was better to do it from under the gun than the button! It is interesting how trends can affect what is the best poker strategy.

I do not know how many times I have been in the Small Blind holding something like 7-5 offsuit. One or two limpers and I get great odds of calling. It is just another Small Blind, right. I can flop two pair and win a nice pot, and if not I will just get away from the blind. So I call. And then the flop comes 7-3-2 rainbow. Top pair and no draws, I am going to bet. One of the limpers calls, probably with overcards. The turn is a 4. That did not change anything other than giving me a straight draw. If the limper had something like Ace-Jack he only has three outs now. I am not going to give him free cards so I am making another bet. Oh, he raises me?

You see where this is leading. The limper has something like 88 or has even flopped a set and I have lost way too much with a weak hand.

This example illustrates how difficult it is to play out of position, and by calling pre-flop from the Small Blind I deliberately put myself in that position. It is like reversed implied odds. A cheap bet to call pre-flop but it could cost a lot more later. And if I play more passively post-flop you can bet the limper(s) will check behind and outdraw me.

The more poker experience I get the more I understand and respect the importance of position. I have to say that the poker books were right.

But how about the top professionals? Tom Dwan (pictured) does not seem to worry too much about position. No, but his extremely aggressive strategy means he is in charge even when he is out of position. He will bet and re-raise with nothing so even with position he is scary to play against. In the example above he would probably make a huge re-raise on the turn and the guy with pocket eights would have a very difficult decision.


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