Introduction To Playing Position In Poker

True Grinders are masters at exploiting their position at the poker table (yes, I was going to open with some cool OG type slang about doing it doggie style but decided against it). All joking aside, if you want to achieve True Grinder status here this will be a key part of your overall game. So what is position and how do maximize your return based on it?

Poker Position Explained

Position is, simply put, where you are in regards to the action at the poker table. If you're the very first player to act it's called “Under the Gun” or UTG. If you're the 5th player to act out of 10 then you're in middle position or MP. If you're on the Button (or OTB), you're acting just before the Small Blind (SB) and the Big Blind (BB). The latter positions are self explanatory.

The other terms to become familiar with (especially if you're reading a forum that talks about hands) is the +1 concept. If you're the third person to act after the player that's UTG, you would say that you're UTG+3. If you're fourth it would be UTG+4 and so on.

Position At The Poker Table Is Almost As Important As The Hand Your Holding

Aces win most of the time in a heads up race against any other hand. A full house is practically bullet proof unless you're playing Omaha with four other players in the pot. Of course, almost any hand short of a Royal Flush CAN be beat if you let it happen. By understanding your position at the poker table and using to protect your hand is the easiest concept to learn as it pertains to position.

Here's an example: You're UTG+3 and raise with pocket 10's. The Button and BB call and the flop comes 3h, 5d, 8h. Post flop, you're the second to act after the BB and he checks. A strong bet may be a good idea in case either player has a heart flush draw. You're protecting your hand here. In fact, even if you completely missed the flop and weren't holding pocket tens a big bet here may scare them off. In this case you consider your middle position as a position of power.

Typically, you are considered to be a powerful position when you're the last to act in any round of poker. In a common scenario this would be when you have the Button because that position is always the last to act. So what about situations where you're NOT the Button?

An advanced strategy of playing position comes when you “buy” the Button. In this scenario you may be UTG+5 sitting directly to the right of the player that has the Button. Regardless of your hand here if you feel you can take control you may want to “buy the Button”. If you truly feel that the Button and the Blinds will fold to a decent raise, pop it up 4 or 5X the BB. If you're successful and they do fold (assuming the original caller or callers stay in the hand) you now are the Button. The action will always end with you making the last move. If your reads are correct you can often take down a pot with aggressive betting and/or raising.


The bottom line is that position and playing it effectively is something that’s learned over time. The better players you’re up against the more you’ll see position get played. That’s because these types of players understand that regardless of what hand you’re holding if you have position on them you can make their life extremely difficult if their hands don’t connect on the flop, turn, or river. The purpose of this article is to give you and understanding of the basic concept and a few simple scenarios. Smart TG’s will take this as a foundation and build upon it as their skills increase. Don’t bite off more than you can chew either, take it slow and read more on the subject. Put the skills into practice at a site such as Bovada Poker and before long, it’ll be second nature to bluff that newb off his flush draw even though you’re holding complete garbage! The main key point here is that the later you are in position, the more information you have from the players so you can react accordingly.