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Position in No Limit Hold'em
Position in No-Limit Holdem refers to where you are in the order of betting either before or after the flop. The player with the ‘dealer button’ (to the immediate right of the blinds) will act last on each betting round once the flop is dealt. Acting last conveys many advantages in No-Limit Holdem games, the main factor being that you get to see what your opponents do before you decide on your own action.
The best way to look at taking advantage of position in No-Limit Holdem is that you are able to win the most when ahead and loose the least when behind. At the end of the day the strongest hand will win a showdown regardless of where at the table the holder of this hand is sat.
Before the flop you are able to take advantage of late position by playing a wider selection of hands. For example if you are in early position (one of the first to act) in No-Limit Holdem you may not be able to profitably play hands such as suited connectors, small pairs or unsuited high cards.
The reason for this is that all of these hands need high ‘implied odds’ to be profitable. They will not hit the flop too often and so need to be cheap to play in the early betting rounds. In early position most of your opponents have yet to act. The risk here is that one or more will raise you – forcing you to lay down your hand.
Compare this to being in late position – you have seen most of your opponents limp or fold and can now play these hands with little risk of a re-raise. Even when raised you may choose to call – having the advantage of seeing your opponents act before you do on the flop may also mean you can steal the pot.
The real advantage of position in No-Limit Holdem comes from being last to act on the flop, turn and river betting rounds. Compare holding a medium pair when first to act to being last. In order to find out where you stand you will need to bet. Betting when first to act risks being re-raised by any opponent, or even flat called as a bluff.
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Betting when last to act gives you the advantage of seeing your opponents check first, making your bet more likely to succeed. Sure, an opponent may be trapping with a strong hand – but check-raising you ‘out of position’ will show a lot of strength and allow you to get away from your medium strength hand.
If you completely missed the flop then being last to act may enable you to pick up small pots with a bet on the flop. If an opponent who is in the habit of betting every flop acts before you then you can even choose to call – taking away the pot with a bet on the turn instead.
With a strong holding last to act you are able to decide whether to check, enabling your opponents to ‘catch up’ in the hand. You may also be in a position to flat call a raise, thus building the pot, or to re-raise an amount that you expect to be called by at least one opponent. With strong holdings you want to build the pot, the advantage of being in last position is that you can do this without arousing too much suspicion from opponents.
To summarize, taking advantage of position in No-Limit Holdem involves being able to play hands you might otherwise have folded, steal pots that nobody has shown an interest in, build a bigger pot when you are strong and get away from a medium strength hand early when the action in front of you gets heavy. This is quite a list, and explains why profitable poker players make sure that they play the majority of their hands from late position.
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Position is a huge part of playing correct NLH poker. Once you know how to play correctly in every position, read our best site for no limit Hold'em page which lists the top NLH sites for winning money.