Texas Holdem Poker Lessons: Table Positions

After describing starting hands in the last lesson, we will now look at table position. Novices are apt to get obsessed with their cards and forget about their seat relative to the dealer button. This Texas Holdem Poker Lesson explains the different player positions in a round, and why they are important.

Table position is designated clockwise from the dealer button's left. First is the small blind who posts half the minimum wager prior to the flop. Next is the big blind who posts the full minimum wager. To their left is the one "under the gun." They and the rest of the players including the button are divided into early, middle and late positions. If it is a full 10-player table, we can picture it like this (clockwise):

Small Blind > Big Blind > Under the Gun > Player 4 > Player 5�. Player 9 > Button

Early Position

The first three - SB, BB and UTG - are in early position. It is disadvantageous for the player since they must act before the others. Those who act early are vulnerable to attack from later players.

Middle Position

Starting with the fourth player to the button, this is middle ground. One has seen some of the players act, but not all. It is better than early position but still disadvantageous. Players here can get caught in a squeeze, a predicament in which they want to call a bet from an early player but run the risk of being raised by a later player.

Late Position

The button and the two players to their right are here. This is the favorite place of many poker players. If the button has folded, the others are in even later position. When you are in late position, you get to read your opponents first. Judging by how they have acted - call, raise, fold or check - you can gauge the quality of their hands and the overall strength of the table. If you are holding a dubious hand and other players have raised and re-raised before you, you know it's time to fold. On the other hand, there was a lot of checking, you can move to steal the pot.

Below are recommended hands for a full 10-player table.

Hands by Position

Early Position

Pairs: eight pair and higher Suited ace-king to ace-ten, king-queen, king-jack, queen-jack, Unsuited ace-king, ace-queen

All of the above can be played by middle and late players as well.

Middle Position

Pairs: five pair, six pair and seven pair Suited ace-nine, king-ten, queen-ten, jack-ten, ten-nine, nine-eight Unsuited ace-jack, ace-ten, king-queen, king-jack

All of the above can be played by late players as well.

Late Position

Pairs: the lowest pairs two-two, three-three, four-four Suited: ace-eight to ace-two, king-nine, king-eight, queen-nine, jack-nine, ten-eight, eight-seven, seven-six, six-five, five-four, Unsuited: ace-nine, king-ten, queen-jack, queen-ten, jack-ten, ten-nine

Be sure to read the section on Starting Hands as well.

This concludes the Texas Holdem Poker Lesson on table positions.