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Playing in Position in NL Hold'em

Position is one of the most underrated and yet most important variables in any game of poker. Players with position on their opponents will always have an automatic edge. Your position will often allow you to put pressure on other players that they just won’t know how to react to.

With that said, however, many players completely mess up their opportunities to play pots in position. Position will generally allow you to do two main things: make the most money with big hands and lose the least money with weaker hands. This is the entire basis of any successful poker strategy, so you can see why position is so valuable.

Position will also allow you to push players around and essentially control the entire tempo and flow of any game. There are many players who will shut down as soon as they feel resistance from a player who has position on them. This is the reason why 3 betting light is done in late position and not in early or middle position.

When you have position on other players, you can capitalize on other’s weaknesses without needing to dramatically improve anything you are actually doing. If there is one thing that will turn a break even or slight loser into a steady winner in poker, it is the ability to exploit opponents based on the strength of their position.

Hands to Play in Position

You can play any hand in position! Well, this is what some players think anyway. While being in position does allow for some greater flexibility than you might be accustomed to, it still requires that you know what you are doing. One false step will often send a player home packing, whether it is for a re-buy in a cash game or home in a tournament.

Pick your spots carefully whether you are in or out of position. Hopefully by now you realize that position is not a magical gift of free money without proper implementation. Execution is everything in poker. You can’t just make raises or re-raises in position for no reason, you should know why you are making any move and you should also have some type of hand to back it up.

Big Hands in Position

Big hands in late position are great. Of course, big hands from most any position are great. The best way to maximize on your position with big hands is to play them just as you would from anywhere else on the table. While there are certainly exceptions to this rule, it is almost always best to just go ahead and put in a big raise when you have a big hand like QQ, KK, AA or AK.

A lot of players like to get tricky in late position when they have these big hands, and while this approach can pay dividends on occasion, it will also often allow you to lose a lot of money. There is no easier way to lose a few buy-ins than to get a big hand, let someone catch up for a low price, and then commit to your hand. Big hands in late position should be played hard and fast - get maximum value and get out. It is as simple as that.

Mediocre Hands in Position

Mediocre hands in late position are very situation dependant. For example, if one player opens in middle position, gets a caller or two, then it gets to you with TK, it might make sense to put in a 3 bet. This definitely would not be a play that you should make every single time that you can, but it is a good way to balance your range and will often result in a stolen pot.

A big 3 bet from late position will be both intimidating and will allow for an easy exit if you happen to get re-raised. Plus, TK can still flop pretty hard. 3 bets like this should only be made with hands that are clear folds when re-raised, but can also flop hard if they get flat called. Tread these waters very carefully, especially in lower stakes games.

Weak Hands in Position

Weak hands in late position are much like big hands in late position. You do have more maneuverability with these hands given your advantageous position, but they are still weak hands no matter how you look at it. If you have something that is barely playable or is basically complete trash, look for super easy and uncontested steal situations.

Don’t start 3 betting or getting in big battles with these hands because they just don’t have the value behind them to back up any confrontation. Make some small open raises when the blinds are sitting there for the taking, but don’t force the issue when you have hands that are completely useless.

More NL Hold'em Strategy
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