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Using Table Positions to Your Advantage

Poker Table Positions – Using Poker Table Positions to Your Advantage

The position of the poker dealer button has distinct benefits to it. Be aware of them, and soon you'll be using poker table positions to your advantage.

There is a famous Daniel Negreanu quote: “The button is power.” Below, we are going to try and explain what he means, and why what he says is so very true.

A lot of deep underlying poker strategy comes from using table positions to your advantage. All of this has to do with the movement of the button, and how its movement affects play.

In poker, the dealer button is that little thin white hockey puck looking thing. It doesn't really have too much practical relevance when you are playing online, or when you are playing in a poker room where the house supplies a dealer.

But in private games, the position of the dealer button indicates whose turn it is to shuffle and in the cards. If actual players are in charge of shuffling the deck, the logic is that it's best to move that responsibility on for each hand. This prevents accusations of cheating and deck fixing.

Position is everything

The first major benefit that you must appreciate if you are planning on using table positions to your advantage is that player on the button acts last. To this players left is the small blind, and to the small blind's left is the big blind.

Since both the small and big blind are forced to bet in every hand, and the betting moves left from there, the player on the dealer button will always be in position to have observed everyone else's decisions before making their own. This is the best possible position to be in, for a number of reasons.

By seeing everyone else's play, yours can be reactionary to it. For example, consider this situation.

Let's suppose you had been dealt the ten and Jack of hearts. Suited connectors are always tricky to play, particular because there are so many outs. But these ... these could be the seeds of a Royal Flush. But without seeing the flop, it's hard to tell what the right course of action is. Thankfully, you are in a unique position – you're on the button.

This means you get to watch everyone else act first and then decide if you want in or not.

Continuing the scenario, suppose that like five other players call. They can't all be be bluffing, and with at least the big blind in for the hand, that means you're up against seven other players. Suddenly your suited connectors look terrible, and you fold. Imagine if you'd had to be first to act?

Stealing the blinds

Alternatively, imagine that everyone folds on down the line. This leaves just you to act before passing things on to the blinds again. Now, you know that they're only in because they have to be, not because they have great cards. Best way to test this? Raise mightily on them.

Even if they think you're bluffing, they'll probably fold if they don't have anything decent. The small blind will fold easiest, and if your raise was big enough, so will the big blind. Easiest money you ever made.