As we have discussed over the last few articles, the more hands you play from out of position in NLH, the tougher the decisions are that you will have to make. The tougher the decisions, the more chance there is that you will make the wrong decision from time to time. If you are in a rut with your poker game, simply looking at the position you are playing hands from can be a revelation that will get you back on track. Today we will look at a couple more hands and how they play from out of position and how they play from good position.
Let’s take a hand like 8-7 suited. Most poker players love to play suited connectors because of the possibility of hitting a monster hand. However, what position you are in at the table makes a huge difference in not only how you can play the hand, but even if you will play it at all.
For the first example, let’s say you are dealt 8-7 suited in early position. You decide to play this hand but since you are at a table with a couple of hyper-aggressive players, you know that limping-in is out of the question, so you make some type of min-raise. If you get a couple of callers, that’s ok since you will be able to see a flop. The nice thing about hands like 8-7 suited is they usually allow for a fairly easy decision after the flop; you either hit it/have a good draw, or you missed big time and can fold. But, what if one of these hyper-aggressive players 3-bets you? Now what? You can’t really call as you don’t want to isolate with one player when you are playing hands like 8-7 that are usually drawing hands. The equity in these hands is playing multi-player pots so that you can get value out of the hand if you hit. 8-7 vs. A-x is not a good match up. Furthermore, you would be entering into a pot that you cannot control on later streets because you are OUT OF POSITION. No matter how you slice it, you are going to have a tough choice after the flop unless you nail it and flop your flush. Assuming you miss the flop, if you make a continuation bet, he can raise you with pretty much any hand and you cannot call. If you check, he bets with pretty much any hand. It’s a tough spot to be in and to make matters worse, you aren’t getting pot odds if you are on a draw because there aren’t enough players in the hand.
Contrast that with playing 8-7 suited from the Button. If you happen to get limpers in front of you, you can happily call knowing that you will be last to act on all subsequent streets. If there are a couple of min-raises in front of you, you get to make the decision to stick with them and see a flop or let it go. You can raise from the Button with this hand, but you run the risk of driving out too many of the other players and lessening your pot odds. However, when you are in position like this, there are many more ways you can win the pot other than hitting your hand. If the flop is some kind of redheaded-stepchild like 9-3-2, you very well might find everyone checking to you and you can take down the pot simply because you have position. This hand plays quite easily when you play it from position, but not so much if you play it out of position.
You might ask then, why play ANY hands from out of position? The answer is that you don’t have to. Especially in tournament play, you will find me playing very few hands from out of position unless I am at a weak table or I am big stacked. But, when I get into position or am the first to act in late position, I may play just about anything. If you want to simplify your game when you are in a rut, stay away from playing hands out of position and get aggressive when you have position. You will take down more pots much more easily this way and it will also give you the confidence to start making other plays as well.