To say that position is important in poker is like saying having gasoline is important to driving an automobile.
Knowing which hands you should play and how you should play them according to where you are sitting at the table in relation to the dealer button is one characteristic that distinguishes a winning poker player from a losing player. Yet many newer players have no idea of the importance of position in poker, or they simply chose to ignore it.
What is positional awareness?
Positional awareness is a multi-faceted concept. The most obvious element of it is being aware of the importance of position at a very basic level in one’s pre-flop opening ranges. In general, you want to play more hands in position than when you are out of position. It also encompasses being aware of changes in your opponents’ ranges based on their position at the table and their knowledge of positional awareness.
For example, we should fear a competent player’s early position raise much more than a late position CO or BTN raise.
Position equals Knowledge
Because poker is a game of incomplete information, any knowledge gain we can obtain is power. The more information we can amass, the better chance we have of winning. This is why position equals knowledge. When you’re in position, you get to see how your opponents’ will act on all streets; therefore, giving you the power to dictate the way the hand is played. Vice versa playing out of position forces you to essentially play your hand face up since villain gets to see you act on every street before he acts.
Some Key Points:
- When you’re last to act, you have more information than your opponents.
- Position also gives you more bluff equity than your out of position opponents.
- Acting last allows you to maximize your equity by more accurately sizing your value bets.
- Lastly, being last to act allows you to manipulate pot sizes in your favor.
Position Alter Opening Ranges
The key point here is that when we open-raise in early position, we have more opponents left to act than when we open-raise in late position. Therefore, while at the risk of sounding repetitive, we need to hammer in the fact that the earlier position we’re in, the tighter we should be playing. As we move to later positions, we can open up our ranges. This all has to do with the key points discussed above.
Perhaps the most common mistake beginning and intermediate players make regarding position is they adjust their ranges pre-flop correctly but don’t take pre-flop position and range analysis considerations to their post-flop play. We need to remember to use the opener’s position as a factor in how the hand should be played post-flop.
Position and positional awareness should be utilized on all streets, not just pre-flop.
For example, if a good regular open-raises UTG, then top pair, weak kicker (TPWK), is a much less attractive holding for a pre-flop caller on the flop than if the regular opened the BTN. Why is this? The regular will have a much stronger opening range pre-flop UTG than on the BTN.
a lack of positional awareness, tend to play too many hands that tend to miss the flop very often. Because of their lose range, they have to give up their hand more often than a tight UTG raiser. Moreover, we will have positional advantage over them as well throughout the hand.
Pre-Flop Opening Ranges by Position for 6-Max Beginners
To see what our recommended pre-flop open-raising ranges are, please read our blog article: