Position In No-Limit Holdem

July 10, 2012 :: Posted by - Poker Tips :: Category - Poker Tips

Tip 16b – Positioning In No-Limit Texas Holdem Poker – Part #2

The last article in this series covered how your position at the table affects selection of starting hands before the flop in no-limit Texas Holdem poker. This article continues this theme by looking at why position is important after the flop – how this can help you to win the most chips when ahead and lose the least when behind in a hand, which is the very definition of a winning poker player.

Your Position After the Flop

position after flop Position In No Limit HoldemPosition after the flop in Texas Holdem Poker is defined by the ‘dealer button’. Since several players will have folded their hands before the flop is dealt, the first player to act is that person still in the hand to the left of the dealer button. This means that the player who holds the dealer button position (or nearest to the right of this if the dealer folded) will act last on each of the 3 post-flop betting rounds – a significant advantage.

Acting last or ‘playing in position’ is such a fundamental winning in strategy in Texas Holdem poker due to the critical role of information inherent in the game. If you act first in a hand you do not have any information on the intentions of your opponents or the strength of their hands. If you act last then you have the opportunity to gain some information before you act. Over 3-betting rounds on the flop, turn and river, the information that you gain can be used to build a picture of your opponent’s hand – giving you a massive advantage in the ability to either win the most chips or (just as importantly) lose the least. Some examples will demonstrate this concept clearly.

Examples of Positioning after the Flop

You have a pair of 9’s and call before the flop in early position, there are 2 more callers and then the player in the dealer button position raises a small amount. You call this raise as do the two other players in the pot. Let us consider 2 different flops:

Flop #1: The flop comes down Ace-Three-Four of 3 different suits, if any of your opponents were playing a hand with an ace they are now ahead. If not then your 9’s may be the best hand. If you check then the player on the button (who raised before the flop) will almost certainly bet – you will then be stuck between him and the 2 callers. If you bet then anyone with an ace will likely raise, forcing you to fold your hand.

Flop 2: This time you get a flop of King-Two-Nine, making you trip nines! An excellent flop and one which you stand to win a big pot with. However your early position is still a problem. If you bet then the 2 players between you and the pre-flop raise will be worried about a re-raise – they will only call with very strong hands. Since you only called before the flop the button may not now raise, he will be wondering what you have to make this move in early position. If you check and allow the button to bet then any raise or call by you looks very strong – after all there were two players still to act.

Your early position creates problems, if you do not know whether your hand is good then you probably need to fold. If you hit a monster you have a problem getting paid. Let us compare the same pair when last to act – this time the raiser is the player in early position and you just call with your 9’s before the flop.

Flop 1: Ace-Three-Four, this time the early position player bets out after the flop and one of the 2 callers re-raises. Your action is clear – your 9’s are no good and should be folded.

Flop 2: King-Two-Nine, the early position raiser bets out again and is flat called by one of the pre-flop callers. Now your problem is a nice one to have – how to build the pot so you can get all-in before the end of the hand. Your last position helps you to do this, raising here is likely to get a call by at least one opponent – if stacks are smaller then a flat call might mean any raise on the turn commits an opponent to the pot.

In short your last position enabled you to easily accomplish the two things which differentiate winning poker players and the rest – the equally important aspects of winning the most when ahead and losing the least when behind.

Part #3 of this series will carry on the discussion on position by noting the difference between ‘Absolute Position’ and ‘Relative Position’.

Would you like to learn more about whether or not you should stay in for the flop? Take a look at this article that I found helpful.

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