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Importance Of Position

There are two main disadvantages of acting out of position. A player need not succumb to both of them, but he or she will always be subject to giving up at least one. This is why, all other things being equal, it is not only desirable to have position, it can be used as an effective tool against your opponents when used properly.

How to use position

The first of the two inherent disadvantages is the potential for giving up information. Poker is essentially a game of managing incomplete information and using it to make profitable decisions. So if you are to act before I do in a betting round, there is at least the potential for you to give some information to me that I can use.

Now if you are a good player you will be fully aware of this, and in fact it's not that difficult to avoid giving away too much out of position. Many players will pretty much always check if they don't have the lead, and only the most sophisticated players may look to be aggressive in spots here while balancing their ranges.

This often will come down to how players react to aggression in position, and the potential certainly exists to be aggressive out of position and exploit a player that way. The thinking here is that, while the player in position will have a natural edge, the edge in skill that the out of position player may be sufficient to exceed this, and this is not an uncommon situation actually if you are a good player.

In any event, all the out of position player needs to do post flop in order to eliminate this informational weakness is to check every time. However, there is a price to be paid for that, and that leads us to the second disadvantage, which is less pot control. There will be hands where you want to build the pot more, but by being forced to be passive out of position, you will generally be giving up some control here.

The more passive your opponent is, the more pot control you give up here. If you are playing against a maniac who will pretty much always bet when checked to, and is seldom afraid to go to the felt, then you're not giving up that much here, as you can most often easily get your chips in anytime you want to.

However, against less aggressive players, they are going to have more pot control than you do since they get to act after you. So for instance if you check to them, and they want to build the pot or not, they can act accordingly.

You're also risking giving away a lot of free cards here by playing passively, and this is something that definitely puts you at a disadvantage. You might have the best hand on the flop for instance, it gets checked down, and then your opponent may draw out on you for free.

In the end, I feel that too many players rely on the passive line out of position way too much. While you do keep from giving away information by checking, the price is pretty high, as you can see. I feel that players should put more thought into this, and when they do, they may discover that varying their approach a lot more here, and being selectively aggressive out of position, may be worth considering more.

The main thing that tends to scare players off from this is the risk of bet folding, however it must be understood that this risk exists equally for both players, and being in position doesn't make you immune from it, or even lessen it, unless your opponent plays too scared out of position and will back down too often.

Now you might not be able to remove the disadvantage of position through choosing the best approach, although you certainly can do this against weaker players. Regardless, we still want to try to at least minimize our disadvantage here, and at the same time maximize our advantages in position. The best poker requires both.

So what we want to do here is to think more about what we're doing in and out of position instead of just following through with preset ideas and conceptions of what we're supposed to do. Often we may not even have thought about the validity of these strategies much, if at all. More thought is generally better in poker though, and along the way you may learn that ideal positional play may not be what you thought it was.

You can practice position at Party Poker as they have plenty of players of all strength levels and a lot of fish who did not spend the time to study the importance of position.

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