Importance of Position in Texas Holdem Poker

In hold'em poker, the basic step in playing & winning poker is merely to not play too many hands. You should choose those hands which is best enough to win and stick with situations where you have an edge. This need to limit your play to only those hands in which you have a benefit means you won't be able to play many hands when you are one of the early players to act. You usually do not have enough information. The more information you have about the strength, or the lack of strength, of your rival's hands, the better you will be able to evaluate about the strength of your own hand. Keep in mind that hand strength doesn't come from being the strongest hand at that moment, if it comes from being best draw. The hand strength depends entirely on the game conditions. In Hold'em and all other forms of poker game, your hand selection should depend on your position in the betting.

What Is Position?

The player acts in turn, at every rounds of poker betting. The first player to act is at great disadvantage because he has to take the action before he has any kind of information about the strength of other players' hands. This is what we call as positional value. The first player to act has a reduced hand value because of his lack of information about his rivals' hands and the last player to act has an increased hand value because he has to act at last after getting all the information about his rival's hands. Every time another player acts (calls, bets, raises or folds) you get information about the value of his hand and accordingly the value of your hand. It is a different concept of evaluating accurately that information.

Risks of Early Position

The first player to act has to do so with no information about the hands the other player holds. In a standard ten-handed game, the under-the-gun player has to decide whether to bet, call or fold while facing a field of nine other players who have given no indication of the strength of their respective hands.

The below shall summarize the effects of this lack of information on the decision to open the betting. Note that the percent of hands you can safely open with goes up significantly only after four or five players in the game have folded.

You should play only strong hands from an early position. It takes a powerful hand to beat nine other players. Speculative hands without big card value should not be played from an early position. You want to see the flop as cheaply as possible with speculative hands and playing them in early position takes you to risk a raise. The exception is when the game conditions are loose or very loose and you know that there will many callers with their weak holdings.

When you are in a poker position with more towards the middle or late position of the field, you can loosen up somewhat. If four players ahead of you have folded, and no one has yet bet, you only need to beat five random hands and can possibly open with much weaker holdings.


Percent of hands that are generally playable under a struggle for ante perspective by the number of players left to act

Number of players who haven't acted
Percent of hands that you can open with a raise
9 6%
8 7%
7 8%
6 9%
5 11%
4 13%
3 17%
2 24%
1 50%

Note: The percent was calculated based on a comparison between the odds you are getting from the blinds and the probability that you can beat an random hands, where is the number of poker players left to act.

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