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When you sit down to play poker several questions should be going through your mind during the game; "How much money am I willing to lose?" "Should I leave this table yet?" "What is the right bet to make in this situation?" There is more going on in mind of any decent poker player at any given moment than most people realize, especially when it comes to betting on poker games. Of all the questions you should be asking yourself during the game, one should be asked before any of them...
"Should I play this hand in this position?"
Let's take some time to discuss an important bit of strategy. Not how to play poker hands, but how to play poker positions. Poker is not just about the hands you play, but when you play them. In fact, some of the pros would argue that position is often even more important than the hand you hold when you play poker. One would be remiss to discuss poker strategies and not mention the importance of positional play.
Whether playing a full nine handed cash game, or getting down to the last three to four players when playing a tournament, where you are sitting in relationship to the blinds should be taken into consideration with every poker hand you play.
Sometimes referred to as the hot seat, the position directly to the left of the BB is most commonly known as early position, or being under the gun (UTG.) When you play poker from here, you are at a higher disadvantage than anybody at the table because you are the first to act. Everybody behind you can see how you are playing your hand before they have to make a decision on how to play theirs. As such, exceptional care should be taken when deciding to play a hand from this position. Many players will not even play poker hands as good as pocket kings from the hot seat. And two over-cards should definitely be folded when sitting under the gun. UTG+1 and UTG+2 are not much better and you should really only play poker hands like big slick or better from those two spots as well, if at all.
Care should also be taken when in middle position, but you should start to feel comfortable playing face cards from here.
The button, (the dealer chip) is the best spot on the table. When you play poker, play on the button as often as you can. From this position, you can see how everybody on the table is playing before you decide what to do. This can often lead to winning a hand even if the cards you're holding are worthless. Remember, you don't have to have the winning hand when you play poker to win. You just have to make everybody else think you do!
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