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Position

 

   This is an advanced but fairly straight forward concept. As was mentioned in starting hands, the true value of a hand is directly related to the number of other hands it is competing against. If you are in ten handed game and seven players have folded in front of you, the net result is that value of your hand has gone up by virtue of the fact that you are no longer competing against nine other players but only two. Clearly a mediocre hand like Kd 8c is more likely to be the best hand out of three than the best hand out of ten. This is somewhat offset by the "bunching factor". This means that since seven people folded what is presumed to be garbage cards, there are more good cards amongst the unknowns. This increases the likelihood that the three who are left will have better than average hands. In spite of this, it is often correct to raise on the button or in the cutoff position, in an unopened pot, with hands you might not otherwise play.

   The other aspect of position is being last to act throughout the hand. Acting last is almost always an advantage as it gives you the opportunity to gather more information and more information means better decisions. This is why the defense presents it's case last in court. Seeing what your opponent is going to do (or not do) before you have to act is large benefit. Specifically, if everyone checks to you, you may decide that none of them have a hand and try to buy the pot, something you would be unwise to try in first position. You may also decide to bet a marginal hand for value and get called by someone who thinks you're bluffing because of your position. If you are last to act, you may call with a weak draw since you don't have to worry about anyone raising behind you.

   There are, in fact, may hands that should be called or even raised with in late position that would be correctly thrown away in early position. Any advanced strategy or hand ranking chart would have to factor in this concept.

The pros know it, and now, so do you!

 


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