The importance of understanding middle position

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Playing in a $2-$5 cash game while in middle position, the two players to my right folded and I was holding 7-8 suited preflop. With only $7 in the pot, I raised to $15. Everyone behind me folded and I became the button from middle position.

Some of you may be asking why I would have raised to $15 with only 7-8 suited. There are several reasons I like to do this: I’m indicating I have a strong hand. Next, if any player behind me called or raised, I also know they like their hand and have strong enough holdings to call the raise. Also, suited connectors work extremely well for this type of a bet. If I connect with the flop, seldom will a player give me credit for any seven or eight or straight cards that go with the 7-8.

With no callers behind me, I have position for the remainder of the hand. When no one called behind me only the blinds remained in the hand and they must have a strong hand to make the call. If they do call, I’ll have position for the remainder of the hand. If they both fold (often the case) I’ve stolen the blinds, which is essential in cash and tournament play.

If the flop contains an ace or king and I’m checked to, I can represent the ace or king with an average bet or a large bet if I know my opponent. Once again, this bet will often win the pot.

On a dry board such as 3-8-J, it’s doubtful either of the blinds would have played any jack hand and called my raise unless they were holding A-J or K-J suited or even Q-J suited. If they were holding a jack and checked, my bet should indicate I’m not worried about any jack.

Finally, suited connectors have many possibilities for straights and flushes and the occasional full house. Don’t be afraid to try this play; I promise you’ll like the outcome.

— Antonio Pinzari has been playing professionally since the ’70s. He’s the creator of 23 Poker and Wild Tallahassee Poker, which you can learn more about at WildTallahasseePoker.com.