By Alton Hardin
The power of position and positional advantage are two crucial concepts all poker players should understand and have in their arsenal. In fact, positional advantage is so strong, that it can even trump card advantage at times. To be a winning poker player, it is essential that you understand and utilize these concepts in your poker game.
Why is position so important?
Money flows clockwise in poker toward the button. Why? It is difficult to play hands out of position in earlier positions at the table. To illustrate this point, below is approximately a 50k hand snapshot of my 5NL winnings based upon positions at the poker table.
What you can see from my results is that I clearly make most of my winnings come from late positions, specifically the cutoff (CO) and button (BTN) positions. Moreover, in the blinds I am losing money, which is expected. Also, the arrow illustrates that money moves towards the BTN in poker.
So exactly why is this? First of all, there are a lot of benefits to being in position and getting to act last when you play a hand. You get to see what your opponents do before you act, so you have more information in the hand than they do. Additionally, you get to dictate how the hand is played. Being last to act, you get to decide whether you want to call, raise, or fold – which is much more difficult to do when you are out of position and first to act. When you are out of position and first to act, you never know what your opponent that is in position to you will do.
Let’s take this concept one step further and talk about positional awareness. Positional awareness is when:
- You understand the Power of Position
- AND you play a stronger range of hands when you are out of position
- AND a larger range of hands when you are in position
- Early Position: Requires a stronger range of pre-flop starting hands due to positional disadvantage
- Late Position: You can play more speculative ranges of hands due to positional advantage
With positional awareness, we are essentially leveraging the power of position to play fewer hands when we are out of position and more hands when we are in position. We understand that we need to play stronger hands out of position and we can play more speculative hands in position. This is an essential concept that all good players leverage in their game.
The main point is that being in position in a hand is a very powerful thing. Because you get to see what your opponents do before it is your turn to act, you can effectively control the way the hand is played. So it is easier for you to bluff and value bet in position. Many beginner poker players underestimate the power of position and neglect to implement a positional awareness strategy in their poker game. Remember to always consider position when you are playing poker; it is arguably one of your most valuable assets when playing poker.