The first thing you should know about playing your position in poker is how the actual positions work. With each new game at the table, poker moves clockwise, away from the dealer. The player immediately to the left of the dealer acts first. Betting then moves all the way around the table until it reaches the dealer again.
So the closer you are to the dealer the worse the position is considered to be. The further away the better. But ultimately, because the position in poker keeps moving, all players eventually end up with the advantage. Though it may not be when you have the best hand!
Poker is a game played with incomplete information because you do not get to see your opponent’s starting cards. In order to make a decision at the table, you have to do a number of things. Observe betting patterns and pay attention to the other players. Watch how they bet and when they bet. Spot trends. And then use this to make an educated guess as to whether your hand is good.
This makes playing in one of the later positions at the table much more attractive. You have the benefit of seeing how your opponents are playing before you have to make your decision. Many players are aware of this, especially online poker players who can have a lot of information available to them. Many use forums and software but a large percentage of them fail to fully utilise their positional advantage over their opponents.
If you are playing your position in poker properly then you should be playing aggressively pre-flop. Raise the limpers at the table and isolate weaker players. Some players will try to become the table captain and try to run things their way but if you have a solid position you can retake control and show them that you won’t be pushed around.
You should also run more multi-street bluffs, particularly in a cash game. There is a large percentage of players who will limp into the pot, call your preflop raise and then check/call your continuation bet. At this point, many players will give up on their hand unless they have a made hand of course.
But having a good position means you can fire again on the turn and even the river if needed. That puts your opponents under maximum pressure. For example, a player limps in and you raise with a 9 of hearts and an 8 of hearts. He calls and you both see a flop reading 10 clubs, 4 diamonds, 2 hearts. He checks, you continuation bet and he calls. Now the turn brings the Ace of clubs. A lot of players here would check but it is perfect for firing again. In theory, you will take the pot more times than you would give the move credit for.
Finally, many players will simply check behind their opponent on the river when they think they have the best hand. Especially if they are not 100% sure. But when you have a stronger position than them at the table you should bet a large percentage of the time. It puts the pressure back onto your opponent to make the call.
The amount of pots you will win without showdown will far outweigh the times you lose when you are beaten or have to fold to a check-raise.
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