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Information, Information, Information!
Texas Holdem is all about information. The more information you have, the better the decisions you can make when placing your bets. Read below to take Full advantage of all the Information you can... it helps you win!
Early, Late positions
Every bet in a Texas Holdem hand has to start somewhere. Based on where your sitting relative to the Dealer Button, it will be considered Early or Late position betting. This is critical information to the seasoned Texas Holdem player.
Why? Anyone can leverage a hand based on their position at the table. If everyone checks... the final person can (whether they have a good hand or not) place a bet that will shake out many of the weak handed players. Possibly ALL of them. It's the Power of the Position that strengthens your hand just by other players folding.
You can Bluff/Leverage your hand in late positions
As many seasoned holdem players know, being in that late position allows you choices. Choices that players in early positions don't have.
Why? Early position players will be at your mercy of someone raising the bet... which will leave them questioning their hand if they limped in with a middle of the road hand (ie, K6 or A7) I explain this below in more detail, but understand that late position betting can dictates the boards play.
So, as you read above, being in the last betting position can dictate the hand. You can use this as an advantage to leverage out the weaker "non-betting" players that are still looking for 1 or 2 cards to make their hands.
Remember, most Online players will pay to see the Flop if cheap enough... many Online players try to make Flush draws or Straight draws... don't let these players see cards cheap!
A classic example is with pocket spotted pairs. With 66 or 44, you want to play the hand but you have to know that any Over card on the Flop could spell disaster. You need to show dominance. If players checked the Flop, dominate by raising the hand. Make the remaining players question their position at the table. Remember, spotted pocket cards need help... 1 way to help is to get others to fold. Use position to force out the others who checked the board. Otherwise, over cards kill you.
Just a reminder, Leverage is good when playing pocket spotted cards. Your hand rankings for most is low and your percentage of winning based on 10 players is low too. Use position and hope to get help (luck)
Pocket cards (hand rank)
% of winning w/ 10 players Pre Flop <click here to see Odds for all pocket cards>
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Our Top concerns when using position
#1 Fixed Limit games
The Power of Position kind of loses it's "power" in fixed limit holdem. Why? With the Maximum cap on betting per round, fixed limit games allow more players to see cards on the board because it's cheap. Once the Blinds get in the 100/200 range, players will not make risky bets to "see" if they hit their Flush or Straights. So for the first hour or two, position betting only opens some eyes... but doesn't scare many away. Again, fixed betting allows more people to see more cards which keeps more people in hands. What does that all mean, your odds of winning are lower.
A classic example would be... Say your playing $1/2 Fixed limit holdem. The Big Blind is $2. Typically, the Max Raise is double the Big Blind (or $4). As mentioned above, this limits the power of the position because you can't really apply the full strength of the position due to the fixed upper limit.
Example #1 Say everyone checked the Flop. You decide your going to raise the bet to weed out some of the limped players. Your Max bet is $2. Most players with *any* sort of a hand will Call the bet and force your hand later if they hit.
Again, fixed limit holdem games allow more players to see more cards. Bluffing becomes harder and position, although still applicable, doesn't carry the same weight as a No Limit Holdem game would.
Have I said that enough... Why am I saying that so much? Many MANY Online players LOVE to raise and re-raise from ANY position on the board. They might be only betting middle pair... but they bet and bet and bet. When it's time to show the cards... these cats were betting middle to bottom pair hoping to push players out with the force feeding of re-raises... in limit holdem... which causes me to go HUH???
Example #2 Say your in a No Limit Holdem match and everyone has checked the Flop. You have pocket 77's. You need to dictate the betting to scare the others away because most pocket pairs, unless you pull a Set (2 of a kind) are considered weaker hands based on Over cards. Remember, most players will play any face card... so pocket spotted pairs odds are lower based on that info.
With that said, No limit allows you to Triple the Big Blind and make the Real hands come out to play. Chances are, others will think your playing a Top 10 hand and bail.
Just remember, the power of position makes the pretender hands fold which increases you odds of winning the hand.
#2 Using Position as your *only* means of winning
Betting in the late position is great and will get people to Fold, but if your using position as your only means of winning... it will only take 1 or more Calls to weed you out!
Tournament players are notroious for using position to win pots. Bluffing out players by using a late position bet is common. Cash games is something totally different. Cash games do not allow for a "feeling out" period. Your in every hand and if you're not mentally in the game, you Will lose your $$$
Our suggestion... use position betting wisely.
Here's our Top 3 position plays
#1 Use a late position bet/re-raise when the Over card on the board Flops an A,K or if the board pairs. Most players will figure that you have the High pair or have Flopped the 3 of a kind.
#2 When the board checks to you on the Turn or the River... this could mean your opponent has nothing more than a high card. I would throw out a bet to see if they bite or not... if they do Call or Raise and you have nothing more than a Bluff... I would walk from the hand. But make no mistake... a late round bet when everyone has checked typically is a sign of weakness and can win with just a small bet.
#3 FOLD middle of the road hands in early positions.
Ok, it's not a good thing to talk about folding hands... but in holdem, it can be the smartest thing you can do. When in the early position, you're forced to make a decision about whether you're truly committed to your cards EARLY. What do I mean? Say your in the first position and you are dealt A8. Typically A8 is a playable hand... but in an early position, you can't see if others are betting heavy... this is a disadvantage and without a Top 35 hand you'll be forced to either Call a stupid bet with a weak hand or Fold... allowing someone to walk with your Called smaller bet. (this would be poor play)
In summary, any "middle of the road" hand in early positions are a setup for disaster. You're forced to Call the blinds... then forced to Call any raises that might come up during the Pre Flop betting. If you're sitting in a late position with that same A8 as I mentioned above... you can see the betting develop and you can dictate the hand by Calling or Raising the bet based on the information your opponents gave you.
#3 Force feeding the board with late position raises!
I love being in the late positions. I watch the board Call the Blind bet... and just as bets slowly limp in... I slam down a nice raise in late position just to force feed my opponents the notion that I have something worth betting... which sets my hand up for later betting at the Turn and River cards.
Remember, if you and maybe 1 other decide to play... (which is perceived weakness) then most will fold if the flop produces any painted card proceeded with a raise by you.
Here's another example: 3 players decide to play (Big blind checks, small blind pays 1/2 price and you Call the blind) if the Flop is K84 and the board checks to you... a raise will cause everyone to fold (in most cases)
By using a late position bet pre-flop, you set yourself up for that post-flop bet. (ie, the others will figure you're betting the cards in your hand and not what the flop produced.)
So, raise in late position... the big blind should follow considering they are 1/2 price. The Small blind might follow... my guess is most will considering they have money in the hand... so when the post-flop produces the K84 your raise pre-turn doesn't scare away the players.
Again, they assume you're betting the cards you were dealt... if you had K9 and the flop came K84... then the bet on the Turn will seem normal when in fact you're force feeding them to fold.
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FINAL TAKE ON POSITION
I could go on about position betting... heck, I have tons of stories of being flushed right out of hands because late position re-raised... but I find that it's best to:
1. Play Tight in the Early positions. Remember, if you bet in the Early position with a weak hand and your Called... chances are you're beat... so play with Caution.
Also, if you bet in Early position... players might think you have a hand to play and Fold around you... leaving you with a good hand but no one to play. I love to Check an Early position Flop or Turn just to Trap others in to thinking my hand is weaker than they expect.
2. Play Loose in Late positions. Remember that most passive betting in Early positions typically means players are hoping to get to see another card Cheap. If you got the cards (or Bluff) then make them pay to see that card.
3. Don't get crazy with the re-raises. Even in Late position... sometimes you have to Fold and get out of the way of the real hands on the table. Late position betting will push some players out... but the ones that play will likely come shooting.
Good luck and check back... were always writing and updating our information!