Why is position so important in poker?

An experienced poker player is aware that position is an extremely important factor in the game and plays a huge part in his success or failure. To play in position means to be the last player to make his move.

Playing in position represents an advantage because you have the maximum amount of information. You have a large manoeuvre margin because you have observed your opponents’ actions before it is your turn to play, and thus you are more at liberty as to what you are going to do with your hand. A player who is not in position is left in the dark, trying to guess the value of his opponents’ hands.

Positions can be of three types:  early, middle and last. In early positions you should play very tight and fold when you have a poor hand. Since you are out of position you can counteract that by reducing the time you spend playing out of position and wait for other players to exit the table.
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When you are in position poker seems easy and it is a pleasure to play it. When you’re about to join a table, try to observe the table beforehand and get seated at the left of the weak players. This will allow you to be in position most of the time and take advantage of the weaker players who may not be aware of your strategy.

Playing in position offers a player such an edge that it is sometimes referred to as the “Jesus Seat”. The power and control that you have over the other players, and thus the game, makes the “Jesus Seat” craved by everyone. Your rivals have no other option but to defend themselves in what is called “scared poker”, always apprehensive about the outcome of the hand.

The opposite of being in position is to be out of position, and this happens in the early positions. These are usually the first 4 places at the left of the button (i.e. the person who puts the blinds), the first being the worst. This first position is also called “under the gun” because the player in this position is the first to take action after the blinds, which is like walking in a mined field. Under the gun, you will be the first to act before the flop and among the first to act after the flop, so you will always be deprived of any information concerning your opponents’ actions and hands, information which is available to the players in late positions. They are in position so they control and define the way a hand is played.

You shouldn’t despair though if you happen to be out of position. Hopefully, there are some strategies and techniques to save you in this case. You should play only really good hands comprised of aces, kings and pairs. If you have pocket aces, pocket kings or pocket queens or ace king you should raise at a tight table, and limp in at a loose table.

You can gather some information about your opponents by placing some “feeler” bets in an early position and see their reaction to it. Generally, when out of position make sure that your game is extremely tight and play only stronger hands. On the other hand, late positions give you the option of playing drawing hands.