You should learn to play position

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In a class I taught, Texas Hold’em Poker 101, Hold’em for Beginners, we met for three consecutive Wednesdays, two hours at a time. On the blackboard behind me in large letters I wrote: Position In Hold’em Is As Essential To Winning As Water Is To Life.

I re-emphasized that playing out of position is like bringing a knife to a sword fight or starting a wrestling match with the opponent’s foot on your neck.

It’s such a powerful concept that to explain the math would take about 100 pages of complicated formulas.
I might have a slight penchant for drama, but one thing is for certain: Any student who took my class would be well on their way to playing a position-aggressive style of play.

Early position usually is described as the first three seats. However, many experts are simplifying matters to include all seats as EP, unless in Seats 7, 8 or 9 (hijack, cutoff, button). I agree with this approach.

Remember, if action folds to you, our preflop raising hand range should expand. On the other hand, many players are expanding their raising range and coaches and books are encouraging this.

If you’re in a loose, fun $1-$2 game, be careful of finding yourself in multiway pots out of position because that will be your downfall.

If you had the ability to chart your profitability from play on each seat, the step graph demonstrating the profit increase ratio to position would be obvious.

The chips flow toward the button. Players who find themselves in position 85 percent of the time are winning players. If this sounds a little bit oversimplified, think again. In the land of poker, he who is in position is king. Are you listening? You can take this to the bank.

Incidentally, after the class was coming to an end, I would ask, “Does anyone want to guess what next week’s topic will be?”

After one or two students would take a stab at predicting the answer, one bright person would respond, “Position?”
Correct! Indeed, position is the elephant in the room and is covered in one aspect or another in every class.

TIP: Often I run into players who defend their blinds to a fault. When we defend our blinds because we like the price, we end up playing the hand out of position. This is a common leak. Don’t make this mistake.

— Mark Brement has spent 15 years teaching and coaching all facets of poker, including at Pima CC. Email him at brementmark@gmail.com.