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the importance of poker positions

Poker Positions - Learn How to Turn it to Your Advantage

Whether you're playing a casual game with your friends at home or strangers at a casino, knowing poker positions, their advantages and drawbacks, can greatly influence your strategy and, consequently, your winning chances.

After learning the rules and hand rankings, newbies to poker often ask What are the poker positions? This is the question we will try to answer in the lines below, and hopefully, it will help you fine-tune your game by shedding light on the importance of different seating positions at the poker table.

Sit to the left or right of the dealer makes a huge difference, one you should be aware of when playing poker. So, let's get down to business and explain those differences!

Different Table Positions in Poker - What Are They?

Once you get a grip on poker basics, the rules and the poker hand, the next thing to learn is poker seat positions and how they may affect your strategy.

Poker table positions refer to where a player is sitting at the poker table. In most poker variants, seating positions are relative to the dealer (aka the button) and the two blinds.

Apart from physically determining your position at the table, your poker seat position will also determine when it's your turn to bet, giving you certain advantages and disadvantages in relation to others.

Early Position

In games such as Texas Hold'em and Omaha, early positions refer to the three positions left to the dealer. As you may have guessed, early poker seat positions are considered the least advantageous because the players must act with the least knowledge about how others around the table will play their hands.

SB - The Small Blind

The small blind refers to the player to the immediate left of the button, and although they act second to last in every round after the preflop, they are the first to act in every subsequent round, making this position at the poker table the absolute worst.

BB - The Big Blind

The big blind is the player to the left of the small blind, and their compulsory bet must be double that of the small blind. This position is equally disadvantageous; although you will be the last to act in preflop, post-flop, you must act the second. In the long term, the big blind is a losing position; the best you can do is lose the least amount of money.

UTG - Under the Gun

The name of the position directly left to the big blind refers to the pressure you will be under if occupying this poker table position. In pre-flop, the under-the-gun player is the first to bet (not including the blinds' compulsory bets), meaning their betting range is pretty tight, thanks to not having a position on any players apart from the blinds.

UTG+1 - Under the Gun+1

The next position is slightly more advantageous, but plenty of players get to act after you, so UTG+1 boils down to being another early position on the poker table with little chance of winning the round (unless you believe you have the strongest hand!)

Note: In this article, we’re talking about the most common tournament setting of Texas Hold’em, which usually involves a maximum of nine players. In online poker, however, you will usually see tables with a maximum of 6 players, so some positions may be merged into one (e.g. Under the Gun+1 may serve as Lojack.)

Middle Position

Given that several positions are left to act after the middle-position players, this indicates that your betting range is still rather tight. Indeed, you can play a bit looser than under the gun, but you should still apply maximum caution, knowing you have a few players left to follow.

Should the late position players fold in preflop (which doesn't often happen, given their initial advantage over everyone else), middle position players can start playing more aggressively post-flop.

Poker Positions Explained


Lojack is the first of two middle positions, but it doesn't offer any substantial betting range; if you're playing in the lojack position and none of the players in position on you (aka players to your left) has folded, it's better not to be too adventurous.


Now that all of the early positions and the lojack have acted, hijack is in a slightly better position to act. Hence, the name hijack is known to often steal or hijack the blinds from the latter two positions. This is where you can allow yourself to be more aggressive as the number of players acting after you grow increasingly smaller.

Late Position

Now, this is where things start to heat up! The dealer and the players to the dealer's right undoubtedly have the position of all poker seats. This is because they are acting with the most knowledge about the game and are in the best position to either call, bet, raise or fold.

The Cutoff

This is where you can really exert pressure on your opponents. This position is called the cutoff because players occupying this seat at the poker table tend to "cut off" the blinds and take the pot.

The Button

As it's colloquially said in the poker community, being "on the button" means you get to act last in all rounds (post-flop). No wonder everybody likes to be on the button! This is by far the best of all positions at the poker table, and those serving as the dealer get to see all of the action before acting.

Why Are Poker Positions Important?

Poker seating arrangement determines the order of play and significantly impacts a player's strategy and potential success. Being "in position" (aka acting later in the betting rounds) offers distinct advantages: it allows you to observe opponents' actions before making decisions, feeding more information into your next move. This informational edge can lead to better judgment calls, such as when to bluff, fold, or bet.

Conversely, being "out of position" (aka acting earlier) puts players at a disadvantage, as they must act without knowing how opponents will respond. This can lead to more cautious and less profitable play. Additionally, certain positions like the dealer button, cutoff, and big blind have specific strategic considerations. For example, the dealer button is the most advantageous due to acting last in post-flop rounds, facilitating aggressive and flexible play. Understanding and leveraging position is a fundamental skill in poker, directly affecting a player's overall performance and profitability.

How to Make the Most of Your Poker Table Position

Here are key tips for optimising your play from different poker table positions:

Early Position (EP)

  1. Play tight. Acting first means you have less information about your opponents' hands. Stick to strong hands (e.g. premium pairs, high-suited connectors).
  2. Avoid bluffing. It's riskier to bluff from this position because you have to act without knowing others' reactions.

Middle Position (MP)

  1. Expand your range. You can loosen up slightly compared to the early position, adding hands like medium pairs and suited connectors, but don't go overboard.
  2. Observe opponents. You have more information than early positions, so take note of how players are acting before you.

Late Position (LP)

  1. Play aggressively. With more information about others' actions, you can play a wider range of hands. The cutoff and button positions are ideal for stealing blinds.
  2. Bluff more. Utilise the advantage of acting last to execute well-timed bluffs and put pressure on your opponents.

Blinds (Small Blind and Big Blind)

Defend Wisely. The big blind allows you to defend with a broader range of hands due to the investment already made. The small blind requires careful consideration because it is out of position post-flop.

Be Ready to Fold. Especially from the small blind, where you're at a positional disadvantage, it's often wise to fold marginal hands.

General Tips

Positional awareness. Always be conscious of your position relative to the button and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Steal blinds: From late positions, especially the button, aim to steal blinds with well-timed raises.

Post-flop play. In position, you can better control the size of the pot and apply pressure. Out of position, play more cautiously and avoid large bluffs.

By leveraging these strategies, you can maximise your position's advantages and mitigate its downsides, enhancing your overall poker performance.