Apart from luck and skill, a crucial component that can make or break your success at a poker table is, in fact, your table position.
Poker training sites often disregard this important aspect of the game, but by the end of this post, you’ll understand how crucial it is to pay attention to your position at a poker table.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the importance of table positions in poker by explaining what they are and what you should keep in mind when you or other players are doing at the different poker positions.
WHAT IS A ‘POSITION’ IN POKER?
The poker position is simply the placement allocated to a player at a poker table.
The way poker positions are determined in games like Texas hold’em is via the dealer button, which shifts clockwise after each game is played.
This guarantees that all the poker players present will get equal time to act in each betting position at some point.
In that light, all players will get to experience the different positions at the table, and it is up to each player to exploit their position and sway the pot odds their way.
TABLE POSITIONS IN POKER
The poker table positions are divided into three categories: early position, middle position and late position.
Below, you can find a quick list of the acronyms we’ll be using as well as their meaning.
- Small blind (SB)
- Big blind (BB)
- Under the Gun (UTG)
- One position after the UTG player (UTG+1)
- Two positions after the UTG player (UTG+2)
- Lowjack position (LJ)
- Hijack position (HJ)
- Cutoff position (CO)
- Button position (BO)
Both the small blind and the big blind are compulsory bets placed pre-flop. Their position within the game is very particular since they are the last to act pre-flop but the first to act post-flop. The small blind is located one position to the left of the dealer, whereas the big blind is located to the left of the small blind.
The size of their forced bet varies depending on the poker game being played, but this can never be changed by the player.
The size of the forced bets varies between cash games. A €10/20 poker game will feature a small blind of €10 and a big blind of €20.
As we’ve mentioned above, the button — and consequently, the small and big blind — shifts by one position after every hand played. In the context of the blinds, this means that different players will pay the forced bets. Once the first betting round draws to a close and the flop happens, the small blind will act first, with the big blind acting right after that.
PROS OF THE BLINDS:
- Your pre-flop position will invariably be one of the later positions at the table. This is a very favourable situation to be in at this stage since you have all the information available to act accordingly.
- You can play a wider range, especially if all you have to do is check. However, this gets harder to do post-flop.
CONS OF THE BLINDS:
- Your early position post-flop will mean that you’re at the mercy of the rest of the players sitting after you.
- If you decide to fold your hand, you’ll have lost your (forced) investment in the pot, unlike other players who could fold without having lost chips to forced bets.
After the small and big blind, the next three seats are considered early positions.
In a full-ring table (which seats between eight players to 10 players), the early position is taken by the ‘Under the Gun’ player. This player sits to the left of the big blind.
Therefore, UTG+1 is the spot to the left of the UTG user, whereas UTG+2 is the spot to the left of the UTG+1 player.
The UTG players are the first to act pre-flop. This changes slightly post-flop, where the blinds (if still active) play their hands before the UTG players do.
PROS OF THE EARLY POSITIONS
- By playing tighter, your efficiency at playing strong hands might improve.
- A check-raise can keep you unpredictable.
CONS OF THE EARLY POSITIONS
- Playing at such an early position both pre-flop and post-flop means that players acting after you can gauge the strength of your hand and act accordingly.
- You can only play strong or premium hands (hands like A – A and A – K aren’t the only options, but anything weaker than that will be harder to reach subsequent streets with). Should you play weak hands, you stand to lose a lot of chips to players acting after you.
- Open-raising can backfire very easily if your opponents hold a strong hand.
The middle positions are taken up by the next two players: Lojack (LJ) and Hijack (HJ), who play hands right after the UTG players.
The farther we go from the early positions, the greater the positional advantage players will have.
With fewer players acting after them than UTG players, LJ and HJ players can exploit their middle position to some extent, even though they are not the last to act in the betting round.
With that said, if there are no players left after the LJ and HJ (after having folded), LJ and HJ players can widen their range and even become aggressive players.
PROS OF MIDDLE POSITIONS
- In this position, you have some information about the blinds and UTG players, which enables you to modify your strategy accordingly.
- You don’t have to play a tight range, but not too wide, either. Anything better than small suited connectors is often worth pursuing.
CONS OF MIDDLE POSITIONS
- Players in late positions can make tells on account of your actions.
At the late position, we have the last two players on the list: the cutoff (CO) and the button (BTN).
These are the most profitable positions at the poker table, trumping the early and mid-position by a large margin.
Where does this significant advantage come from? Let’s have a look at why every other player is at a positional disadvantage compared to you.
PROS OF LATE POSITIONS
- You get to see how every player acts. If an opponent checks, you have all the leeway in the world to act as you wish.
- You can play a mediocre hand and still have the upper hand due to your placement advantage. This means that you can play more hands, regardless of where they stand on the list of poker hand rankings.
- Being an aggressive player can pay dividends, seeing as there is no player sitting after you at the table. You can go for a bigger pot with a weak hand and still have a big advantage.
6 HANDED POKER POSITIONS
With fewer opponents at a six-max table comes slightly less worrying. After all, you have fewer players to read and act after you.
The table formation will be quite similar to the one we’ve described above, only that there are fewer iterations of the same position.
Additionally, a few positions are placed differently, as you’ll see below.
- First seat: BB
- Second seat: SB
- Third seat: BTN
- Fourth seat: CO
- Fifth seat: Middle position (MP)
- Sixth seat: UTG
The poker strategy used for players in each of these positions is the same as we’ve described above.
Tight strategies will have to be adopted by players in the early positions, whereas players who act late will get away with wider ranges.
Players in the middle position will have to find somewhere in between.
9 HANDED POKER POSITIONS
Playing Texas hold’em online poker at a full-ring table is one of the most classic poker experiences one can have.
Here’s every poker position in the game to help you keep tabs on your current and next seat.
- First seat: SB
- Second seat: BB
- Third seat: UTG
- Fourth seat: UTG+1
- Fifth seat: UTG+2
- Sixth seat: LJ
- Seventh seat: HJ
- Eighth seat: CO
- Ninth seat: BTN
Remember: a late position will give you the best pot odds, as long as you play your hand correctly and read the players who have acted before you.
In the game of poker, your position can make or break your hand, and sometimes, there’s absolutely nothing you could do about it. Seeing as poker is a game of reading other people’s behaviour at the table, early poker positions tend to be limiting in this regard. With so many people acting after you, you can very easily be blindsighted with a bet or raise, rendering your action completely futile, at least, in most cases.
Late poker positions, on the other hand, are notoriously profitable. Anything from pocket pairs to suited connectors can work to steal the pot, since you’ll have had all the time in the world to read your opponents and make your tells.
The middle poker position falls somewhere in between the two extremes. It isn’t the most taxing spot at the table, but there are other players seated after you to poke holes in your attempt to win the pot.
Playing more and more hands can get you accustomed to playing in each seat of the game, but poker can often boil down to luck and unforeseeable events.
In any case, learning and adopting a poker strategy for each position at the table will help you get in gear for the whole poker experience. To that end, the EnergyCasino Blog has your back! Our writers are here to help propel you to poker brilliance, which is why we’re relentlessly providing our players with the best poker guides possible.
⭐ WHAT IS THE BEST POSITION IN POKER?
Late positions are, without a doubt, the best position in poker. With all the time in the world to formulate your reads, late positions allow you to play wide ranges and act aggressively.
In this position, you'll be able to play a mediocre hand and still have a great advantage due to your placement. This means that you can play more hands, regardless of where they stand on the list of poker hand rankings.
⭐ WHAT IS THE WORST POSITION IN POKER?
Early positions are, without a doubt, the worst position in poker. In a full-ring table (which seats between eight players to 10 players), the early position is taken by the 'Under the Gun' player. This player is seated to the left of the BB.
The reason why early positions are the least favourable positions in poker is because your opponents can see you act before playing their own hand.
Moreover, you can only play very powerful hands in this position. If you don't, you'll stand to lose a lot of chips to users acting after you.
⭐ WHY IS POSITION IMPORTANT IN POKER?
In the game of poker (both in real casinos and online poker), your position can make or break your hand, and sometimes, there's absolutely nothing you could do about it.
Seeing as poker is a game of reading other people's behaviour at the table, early poker positions tend to be limiting in this regard.
Playing several hands can get you accustomed to playing in each seat of the game, but poker can often boil down to luck and unforeseeable events.
In any case, learning and adopting a poker strategy for each placement at the table will help you get in gear for the whole poker experience.
⭐ HOW MANY POSITIONS ARE THERE IN POKER?
Poker table placements are divided into three parts: early position, mid. position and late position.
A nine-player table will feature the small blind, the big blind, the Under the Gun position, UTG+1, UTG+2, Lojack, Hijack, Cutoff and the button.
⭐ WHAT IS UTG IN POKER?
UTG, or 'Under the Gun', is a poker position located to the immediate left of the big blind. The Under the Gun player is the one who acts first in the pre-flop betting round.
In a Texas hold'em or Omaha game, the UTG placement is preceded by the big blind and the small blind — in that order.
Therefore, the UTG user will be the first to act after the blind positions, heavily influencing a player's ability to play their hands to the best of their potential.