One of the first things that I stress whenever I teach poker is Position. Playing position in No Limit Holdem is the single most important aspect to become comfortable with and the first one that most novice players tend to forget. Even if you are a very experienced player and you find yourself struggling with your poker game or going through a bad run, I will almost guarantee that one of the problems is playing too many hands out of position. There can be many small leaks that creep into your poker game from time to time, but many players will overlook the fact that they are constantly playing our of position as they search for other, more difficult answers.
Poker players always want to start with asking me what hand selection they should be playing. Sure, there are guidelines that you can start out with, but my answer is always ‘it depends on your position.’ I can give you all the easy answers you want about playing A-K, A-Q, A-J, and not A-x, but the bottom line is, you can play pretty much any starting hand you like if you have position. I’m not advocating putting in huge raises with 8-2 off suit, but if you have position you can get away with a pretty large selection of starting hands.
Everyone knows that the player on the Button has the best position. Why? Because that player will be last to act on every subsequent street of the hand. This is important because you then have more information about how the other players are going to act. You don’t have to guess if your opponent is going to raise, you have already seen it happen (or not happen) So, if you are in position, the last player to act in the hand, you in fact have the MOST information available to you of any player in the hand because you have seen everyone else act. Poker is a game of incomplete information. Whenever you have more information than your opponent you can make better decisions and that gives you an advantage.
Sound simplistic? It is, but it is also very easy to forget.
If you want to improve your poker game, make better decisions. How do you make better decisions? By allowing yourself to make EASIER decisions. Think about it. If the decision is easy, you will make the right one a very high percentage of the time. If you constantly put your self in spots where you are forced to make tough decisions, sometimes you will make the wrong one. You are not a computer, you’re only human.
The best way to make easy decisions is to play more hands from position, thereby giving yourself the opportunity to have more information to process. Keep this easy tip in mind the next time you are at the tables and for the next few days I will go through specific hand examples that are made easy or difficult simply depending on what position you are playing them from.
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