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StrategyPoker Basics

The Basics: Position

Poker is a game of incomplete information, so every piece of information you can acquire is valuable in the game. The more players who have to act before you, the more information you can get. It is your position at the table that determines at what point you have to make a decision.

You have to differentiate between absolute and relative position. Your absolute position is the position you have relative to the button. You are in UTG, MP, CO, on the button or in the blinds. But what is actually more important, is your relative position. This means your position relative to other active players in a hand.

There are three relative positions: in position, out of position and sandwich.

If there is only one acting opponent left at the flop (heads-up), then there are two options:

  • You play in position (IP): This means you are last to act.
  • You play out of position (OOP): This means you have to make your decisions first.

The position is determined by the post-flop betting order. The small blind always plays out of position, even though he makes the second-to-last decision pre-flop.

However, when there are more acting players left post-flop, the situation is called a multiway-pot. Now you can sit in between two players, which is called sandwich position. When you are in the sandwich post-flop, you can never act last.

SB Must act first, so he is OOP.
BB Plays in the sandwich and has position relative to SB.
BU Acts last, so he is IP. He has position relative to BB.

In position is better than out of position

Your goal is to play most hands in position. This leads to an information advantage compared to the other players, since you can make the last decision on every street (flop, turn and river).

When you are on the button, you are always in position. You will always act last, which means that the button is the best position at the table.

The worst spot is the small blind. Even though you make the second-to-last decision pre-flop, post-flop you are always the first to act.

The other positions are open to all possible relative positions. The more players who can react to your actions, the higher your risk of having to play out of position post-flop. This makes the cut off the second best position at the table, because only the button can act after you post-flop. The earlier your position, the higher the probability that you will be forced to play out of position post-flop.

When you are in position post-flop, your competitors have to act before you on every street, which means you always have the information advantage of knowing whether they have checked or bet. Conversely, other players do not know how you react to a check, so you are in total control. You can either bet or check and thereby decide to see the next card for free – basically getting a free card.

In position, you can play more hands

Two factors are essential in determining your choice of starting hands:

  • The chance of a player behind you having a strong hand.
  • The chance that you will be in position after the flop.

The later your position is, the lower the probability of someone behind you having a strong hand. At the same time there is a better chance that you will be in position post-flop. Consequently:

The closer you are to the button, the more hands you can play.

There is one exception to this rule, which is the small blind. In this case the two factors are in conflict with each other. The SB is second last to act pre-flop. This leads to a low chance of someone behind him having a strong hand. Post-flop, however, the SB is always OOP.

Therefore for the SB you should be aware that you can play more hands than you can in early position, but far less than you can on the button.

You often want to be in position relative to weak players

Your relative position relates to your active opponents. Ideally you want to play against weak players (fish) and have position on them.

The closer you sit to a player to your right, the more often you have position on him post-flop. The closer you sit to a player to your left, the more often you have to play out of position. So your goal is to sit as close as possible to a weak player on your right, ideally just next to him on his left side.


Position determines who is the first to act and who may be the last to act.

There are three relative positions, determined by the post-flop betting order:

  • In Position (IP): You are the last to act post-flop.
  • Out of Position (OOP): You are the first to act.
  • Sandwich: You are in between two opponents. Against one of them you are IP, but on the other one you are OOP.

Due to the information advantage, it is better to play in position than out of position. In position, you can play more starting hands. When there is a weak player at your table, you should sit as near as possible on his left, because that is where you will be in position on him most of the time.

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Comments (45)

#1 kanpoker, 01 Nov 13 04:32


#2 yuli06, 10 Nov 13 13:56

Nice job

#3 Petersey611, 04 Jun 14 15:46


#4 piresromeu, 07 Jul 14 23:25

position, position, position :)

#5 wirra, 12 Jul 14 07:56


#6 deekay7, 22 Jul 14 11:03


#7 Dedees89, 29 Sep 14 00:39

Yeah 😃😃

#8 tashaleigh3, 09 Oct 14 09:58


#9 catblank, 14 Oct 14 08:59


#10 Chousen, 17 Oct 14 06:35


#11 BenBlakeIsTilting, 14 Nov 14 03:43


#12 AndoW, 20 Nov 14 16:03

nice, that makes sense

#13 yetAnotherUsername, 22 Nov 14 05:11


#14 azhardelisya, 11 Dec 14 22:07


#15 machichi, 02 Feb 15 08:44


#16 Dolja25, 15 Feb 15 14:58


#17 faberyajo, 04 May 15 15:41


#18 vaso014, 08 May 15 18:03


#19 CikaMisa, 22 Jun 15 18:31


#20 Karla9516, 06 Jul 15 09:59


#21 Arnalsan, 20 Sep 15 12:30

nice video

#22 LordNikola, 24 Sep 15 16:13


#23 Requiem555, 25 Sep 15 13:27

Easy to understand. THX

#24 gohomeman2690, 31 Oct 15 15:21


#25 Dan1ee, 29 Dec 15 18:20

Great Job :)

#26 jaskob93, 13 Jan 16 15:07


#27 bubamarasr, 20 Jan 16 18:07

Read it. Thank you.

#28 setyaida, 25 Jan 16 11:02


#29 hassux, 25 Jan 16 21:10

badi nik kiss emou

#30 Nhoxalone, 03 Mar 16 12:29

Cảm ơn

#31 sedinbsng, 01 Apr 16 18:20


#32 pharaonsgold, 07 Apr 16 00:31


#33 CroZoZo, 26 Apr 16 13:18


#34 mafi1968, 28 Apr 16 12:54

missing explanation of absolute positions and their abbreviations here. it should be part of this lesson!

#35 TetonSouix, 16 May 16 02:02

pretty good

#36 Tezza459, 25 May 16 15:20

I enjoy being on this site because I have been learning so much about Poker and is making me a wiser gambler

#37 juozasAK, 01 Jul 16 23:28

thanks, good lesson

#38 woowoo1966, 02 Aug 16 19:35


#39 Robinsko, 09 Aug 16 17:05


#40 Mosaicpao, 04 Feb 17 23:02

Slowly going through these.

Very helpful. :D

#41 njofra13, 13 Mar 17 22:45

Button rules

#42 mcvarga, 11 Apr 17 03:29

Helpful to know why position is so important!

#43 Strapo77RNMD, 02 Aug 17 10:18

Something I never really consider, but will in future!

#44 Mastegat, 17 Sep 17 16:03

Nice article!

#45 fickodejan, 26 Mar 18 09:14