Platinum Poker Club

DFW's Premier Free Poker League

Playing Position

Playing Position

One of the most important pieces of the puzzle for playing the game correctly is knowing when you are in a good or bad position. This is especially true in Texas Holdem. Why...that's easy, remember in Texas Holdem you will have to make four decisions. The first is pre flop, the second is after the flop, then after the turn, and finally after the river. With betting taking place during each of these, it becomes imperative you understand where you are in position strength.

The general definition for position is:

Early = Small Blind, Big Blind, UTG ("Under The Gun" or "First to Act"), and UTG + 1. Seats 1-4 in relation to the dealer button.

Middle = Seats 5, 6, & 7 in relation to the dealer button.

Late = Seats 8, 9, & 10 in relation to the dealer button, with 10 being the button.

Remember that you are in the same position for each bet, call, or raise you will make. With each position then, it makes sense that you only play Group 1 hands in early position. The other popular thought about early position seems to be, if your going to play at all, don't just call, raise.

In middle position your choices should be limited to only Group1 and Group 2 hands. If there has been a raise in front of you and you are still considering playing, you hand should be in Group 1 only.

Late position offers the most flexibility. You can play Groups 1-4 as long as there have been no raises in front of you. If the pot is raised before you act, you should limit your play to only Group 1 & 2 hands in late position. If there has been no raise before you and you are in late position with a Group 1 hand, ALWAYS raise the pot. Even if you have a reraise come in behind you, you can call the reraise or reraise again with confidence.

Take a look at the expected value of each of the Group 1 starting hands based on position:

Position
Cards SB BB 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
AA 2.71 2.82 2.49 2.52 2.74 2.78 2.80 2.74 2.88 2.96
KK 1.89 1.73 1.72 1.69 1.58 1.91 2.02 1.95 1.95 2.10
QQ 1.19 1.23 1.30 1.19 1.20 1.22 1.24 1.20 1.49 1.36
JJ .68 .63 .84 .66 .85 .76 .90 1.02 1.01 .87
AKs .68 .79 .78 .92 .85 .83 .87 .82 1.03 1.00

You should notice that Group 1 hands have a high expected value no matter what position your in. This is why, especially with AA or KK, you should always raise or reraise depending on what has happened before you.

Now let's look at Group 2:

Position
Cards SB BB 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
TT .37 .35 .45 .52 .43 .42 .45 .54 .50 .56
AQs .59 .51 .51 .59 .54 .49 .70 .66 .66 .64
AJs .43 .27 .28 .41 .40 .44 .50 .52 .56 .49
KQs .38 .18 .40 .31 .35 .28 .41 .45 .39 .42
AK .42 .42 .47 .41 .55 .51 .50 .56 .59 .62

Immediately you notice the numbers take quite a decline. However also notice there is not a negative number in the bunch. But, played in the wrong position, against the wrong player, you could turn one of these negative pretty easily.

Group 3 values:
Position
Cards SB BB 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
99 .17 .16 .33 .14 .31 .34 .26 .26 .26 .23
JTs .07 .02 -.04 .09 .02 .14 .16 .13 .19 .15
QJs .18 .07 .16 .10 .17 .31 .10 .20 .36 .24
KJs .17 .12 .15 .28 .32 .22 .23 .28 .28 .40
ATs .20 .24 .28 .23 .23 .40 .28 .26 .31 .47
AQs .59 .51 .51 .59 .54 .49 .70 .66 .66 .64


Group 4 values:

Position
Cards SB BB 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
T9s -.06 -.11 -.06 -.02 .10 -.10 .06 .03 .04 .10
KQ .02 -.01 .05 .16 .08 .09 .13 .15 .15 .17
88 .11 .08 .20 .07 .15 .19 .16 .26 .21 .26
QTs .01 -.02 .04 .11 .13 .03 .15 .14 .13 .07
98s -.03 -.17 -.11 -.06 -.15 -.11 .03 .06 .04 .08
J9s -.03 -.12 -.10 -.04 -.09 -.02 -.01 .00 .06 .19
AJ .03 .11 .03 .10 .10 .07 .16 .09 .20 .15
KTs .16 .02 .11 .20 .16 .10 .27 .07 .09 .30

After reviewing Groups 3 & 4 you can easily see why we didn't bother to mention Groups 5-8. Playing any hand in Groups 3 & 4 requires you feel comfortable with your knowledge of both position and your opponents. Not having the ability to lay these down or chasing them to the river against any average player can lead to disaster for your chip stack. You will end up being second best most of the time either losing to a higher kicker, higher straight, or higher flush.