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Poker Relative Position

Relative Position In Texas Holdem

The majority of players at a beginner to intermediate level will be fairly familiar with the importance of position in a game of Texas Holdem. In general, if you are one of the last to act in a hand, you will have the advantage of seeing how your opponents act before you. Therefore you will have the ability to make a better play based on the extra information you have been given through your opponent(s) actions. However, there will be a few occasions where your apparent 'late position' in a hand will not be as beneficial of you think.

A concept that few players take into consideration during a hand is the principle of 'relative position'. If you are in late position, you may think that you are in a great spot for the rest of the hand. However, problems arise when an opponent to your immediate right makes a raise before the flop, and yourself and another player after you call.

It is very common for players that have called a raise preflop to check to the initial raiser to see how they react. This is because the continuation bet has become an increasingly popular play over recent years, and so players that have to act before the preflop raiser will check in anticipation of this continuation bet. Therefore, it is not possible to gain any information on players that have checked to the preflop raiser, as they could have quite easily checked with either a strong hand, a drawing hand or no hand at all.

If we are acting after the preflop raiser, this can put us in a very sticky situation. We are essentially sandwiched between a continuation bet and a player that has shown us no information by checking. Therefore despite the fact we entered the hand with the belief that we would have the advantage of having the extra information by acting last, we actually have very little knowledge about what our opponents are holding.

If we are sandwiched between these two players, the last thing we want in this position is a mediocre hand or a drawing hand. This is because if we call the continuation bet from the initial preflop raiser, we may get raised by the player that checked in the first place. Hands like these can get very expensive, and when you compile this with the fact that we are unlikely to know whether we have the best hand or not, it is fair to say that we are usually in an unprofitable situation.

It is all too common to simply call the continuation bet in the hopes of improving on the turn, only to be reraised by the player that checked at the start of the round. Now we're in a really sticky situation where we have to decide to either play on and hope for the best, or to cut our losses and get out of the hand. The best move in these particular situations however is to not get into them in the first place.

Conversely, in hands where you might be in an early position, the effects of relative position can work to your advantage. If you call with a drawing hand before the flop, and find that one player has raised and another has called after them, you will be in a much better position than you think. You will be the last player to act on the flop betting round if the initial raiser makes a continuation bet, as they will effectively be resetting the action for the hand, as the action will come back to you to make your play when faced with the bet.

It may seem a little confusing at first, but relative position isn't too difficult of a concept to grasp. On paper it can be a little tricky to explain, but all you have to watch out for at the poker table is calling a preflop raise, and being sandwiched by another player that calls after you. Just be aware of when relative position will be coming into play, and avoid calling with a mediocre hand if you are the first player to call after a raiser.

Relative position is undoubtedly an important concept to take into account at the poker table, and is not one that should be avoided. There are so many players that fall into similar traps as the one above without suspecting a thing, so make sure that you are not one of them. It is all well and good to know how good late position might be, but it is simply dangerous to play in a hand where you are unlikely to have the faintest idea about what your opponents are holding, regardless of whether you are acting last or not.