Seating Position

Where You Sit Determines Your Game

When we talk about position, this is your placement at the table in relation to the dealer. If you are the dealer, or ‘on the button’, you will act last each time after the flop. This is very important because it puts you in the strongest position. You get to see how everyone else bets before you have to make a decision.

It is possible to win more pots on the button than in any other position because it’s either the best place to bluff from if no one fights for the pot, or you have the raise and re-raise information in front of you to allow you to make an informed fold and save your chips.

Poker position

Late Position

This is when you are the second-to-last or third-to-last to act, just to the right of the dealer. It’s a good spot too for the above reasons, the later the better.

Middle Position

Assuming you are sat at a ten player table, this would be the next two or three spots to the right from late position, or seats 4, 5 and 6. Here it gets trickier to play your hole cards, especially pre-flop, because a hand like K-9 suited may look tempting but there are a couple of players who can make a sizeable raise after you have acted and if that happens, chances are with your current holding, you’ll end up folding.

Early Position

Early position places are the first couple of seats to act in the hand and if you want to enter the pot from this position you need to have the goods to back it up with. The rest of the table is yet to act so your chips could be facing a raise or a re-raise. That marginal K-9 is an almost guaranteed fold in this spot. Yes, pre-flop you get to act last while in the blinds, but after the flop you are acting first or early every single time – keep this in mind. The small blind is the worst – after the flop you are the very first to act, every time.

Your Seating Position At A Live Game

When you wander over to a cash table and there are a few seats available, should you just park your back-side on the first available seat? Does it matter?!

You want to attempt to gauge the players as you walk to the table (preferably you’ve been watching it) and find out who is aggressive and who are the rocks. You can tell a lot by how people are dressed and how they stack their chips.

Once you have this info you generally want the aggressive players on your right and the tight rocks on your left. If someone is going to raise or re-raise it would be nice to have this information before you make your decision to act therefore aggressive players who are likely to raise would ideally be to your right. Tight players who are rarely involved in hands are less of a worry and so you do not need to adjust your thinking much to how you play your hand, therefore it is ok for them to act after you and should be to your left.

If a maniac player comes into the pot, you will be looking to re-raise and “isolate” him from the tight rocks, who will likely fold to your double sized bet. You’ll play for pots heads-up, in superior position, and – assuming you’re not a maniac yourself when it comes to hand selection – usually you will do so with a hand that’s favourite to win.

Now look at it the other way round with the tight rocks on your right and the maniac on your left. Every time you enter the pot, the maniac raises or reraises, while the rocks – who are no stranger to the isolation strategy – won’t be afraid to reraise. Now it’s you who will be facing a double sized raise, often out of position.

Change your seat if you can, even it means leaving the game!

Your Actual Seated Position

If, when you attempt to sit down there is more than one seat available, you should choose it wisely. As you stroll to the table have a quick glance and attempt to assess the playing styles of the other players. Look for how chips are arranged and their dress sense.

In an ideal world you really want tight players to your right and loose players to your left. Tight players who raise before you will give you information and loose players to your left who fire at pots can be helpful to disguise your hand.

Your Position from The Button

Dealer button

You need to be thinking about this before you make your move. If you sit there and raise under the gun (first to act after the BB), then you have 9 other players to act after you. Are you going to like it if you get re-raised!? Being on the button you will act last in every round except the first and so will have all the possible information when making your move.

Wherever you decide to sit at the table, be on the lookout for any number of tells.

Caller on the button

If there has been a raise in early position and no other callers and the button calls, then you can consider he might be calling with a medium pair.

Why? – If he had AK for example he would probably re-raise to get information. If he had a high pair, he would again most probably re-raise to get more money in the pot, and any others cards which he might have limped in with, now don’t look so good and would otherwise fold.

Sklansky’s Starting Hand Rankings

Sklansky

Knowing what to raise with in what position is a great way to advance your poker knowledge and increase your bankroll. Sklansky, who is one of the most well-known gurus of the game has contructed a hand rankings chart based on your hole cards and your position.

The higher the rank, the better the cards. Your hole cards are grouped together in rankings like this so you can see different poker hands of simmilar strength.

Rank Hole Cards Playable positions
1 AA, KK, QQ, JJ, AKs Early, Middle, Late
2 TT, AQs, AJs, KQs, AK Early, Middle, Late
3 99, JTs, QJs, KJs, ATs, AQ Early, Middle, Late
4 T9s, KQ, 88, QTs, 98s, J9s, AJ, KTs Early, Middle, Late
5 77, 87s, Q9s, T8s, KJ, QJ, JT, 76s, 97s, Axs, 65s Early*, Middle, Late
6 66, AT, 55, 86s, KT, QT, 54s, K9s, J8s, 75s Middle**, Late
7 44, J9, 64s, T9, 53s, 33, 98, 43s, 22, Kxs, T7s, Q8s Late***
8 87, A9, Q9, 76, 42s, 32s, 96s, 85s, J8, J7s, 65, 54, 74s, K9, T8
  • * Playable in early position if game is loose/passive.
  • ** Playable in middle position if game is loose/passive.
  • ***Playable in late position if you are the first to bet.

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