Understanding Position in Online Poker

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Players compete during the Winamax Poker Tour. Thomas Samson/AFP

Understanding Position in Online Poker is a fundamental requirement and one many new players get wrong. Read on to learn more about it and how it affects your poker game.

What is Position?

Position is the term used to describe the order in which the players act due to the rules of the game.

What Is First Position?

First Position is first to act in the round of betting, whether pre or post-flop, and is positioned first to the left of the Big Blind.

First Position is deemed “out of position” and is the worst seat on the table. Each seat thereafter tactically improves slightly all the way around to the Dealer Button.

First Position is also known rather sarcastically as “under the gun”.

What Should We Do When Out of Position?

This requires huge skill but mainly discipline and caution when we have action from an early position in a poker hand.

Post and Pre-flop, we are going to find our opponents want to pressurize us using better position. For that reason, early in a game of online poker, we need a tight starting range of hands that can sustain pressure from better-positioned opponents.

Deep into a game of online poker once we have a good read on those players, we can widen our starting range slightly.

Why Is It Difficult to Control the Size of the Pot When Out of Position?

Simply, we do not have the knowledge of our opponents’ plan with their starting hand, let alone that they have position on us.

That is the overriding reason why it’s simpler to have a strong starting range of hands in early position. This means we have some control and can potentially still drive the momentum of the pot if not the size so much.

What Is Last Position?

Last Position is the last to act pre or post-flop and is effectively the Dealer Button. This position drives the action as players endeavor to use it to their advantage.

The closer you are to last position, the better, and hence in my previous tutorials, we’ve looked at the power of position and how you have the power of knowledge of all our opponents’ actions.

What Should We Do When in Position?

Players tend to widen their range of starting hands in a constant attempt to build their chip stacks. We have options and that’s the key.

Firstly, in Position, we should at worse call all connected cards or better, to a single raise, and once we have a read on our opponents’ we can potentially raise these hands in position.

Secondly, we can raise in position with the intention to take the pot down then and there, but with the option of isolating fewer opponents. This can be ideal if we’ve been dealt a strong starting hand, then we can build a pot while assuming control over it.

Thirdly, once we have a read on players we can raise regardless of our cards with the intention of betting them off the pot afterward in the following streets.

We Have Maximum Control Over Pot Size in Position, Why?

We do control the pot size up to a certain point, particularly post-flop when an early position player has stood the pressure we’ve applied, and therefore we can adjust our strategy to get to showdown as cheaply as possible.

There will be times we’ve identified a fish at the table and position gives us the best opportunity to maximize our profits with optimally sized bets against these opponent types.

We also have information to process that can help us fold against players who are out of position but have played strongly throughout the pot.

What Are the Positions Between First and Last Known As?

This is always dependent on the table size which online varies between 6 and 9 players.

As mentioned, “under the gun” is first position or “UTG”. The next seat is known as “under the gun +1” (UTG+1) and there can be an UTG +2 on a nine-seat table.

Then we have the Middle position, which describes the seats in between, that are still two short of the Dealer Button.

The seat prior to the Dealer Button is called the Cutoff and is the second-best seat in the house for all the obvious reasons we’ve discussed above.

E.G. Nine-seat table

  • Seat One – Small Blind
  • Seat Two – Big Blind
  • Seat Three – UTG
  • Seat Four – UTG +1
  • Seat Five – UTG +2
  • Seat Six – Middle Position
  • Seat Seven – Middle Position
  • Seat Eight – Cutoff
  • Seat Nine – Dealer Button

As you become more proficient at online poker you will start to want to grab the action more from the cutoff with a pre-flop raise potentially making the last position fold.

This means you become the last position effectively and can control or drive the action accordingly to many of the strategies we’ve discussed above.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, my tutorial has increased your knowledge of position if you’re new to online poker.

You cannot become a profitable player without understanding the importance of position in poker.