Understanding Relative Position in Poker and its Importance
Relative position in poker is an important factor in any hand, especially in Hold’em poker. When you go last and have a chance to see what your opponents are doing before you play, this is a huge advantage. However, relative position doesn’t have to do with when you get to go, but where you are at the table in relation to the player who raised pre-flop.
Why is Relative Position So Important in Poker?
When someone bets on the flop, it starts the cycle of actions all over among the players who are still involved in the hand. If you’re on the button, and there are two involved players before you, here’s how it might work:
Player #1: Check
Player #2: Check
You (on the button): Check to close the action.
It could also go this way:
Player #1: Bet
Player #2: Fold
You: Call to close the action
However, when the betting doesn’t go that way, then the position changes like this:
Player #1: Check
Player #2: Bet (starts the cycle over)
Player #1: Call to close the action
Even though you’re on the button, the bet by Player #2 means that you don’t get to shut the action down in the hand. This happens occasionally, but it’s not always important because you can still see everyone’s decisions at some point before you make a decision. However, when it comes to continuation bets, there is one additional factor to think about.
Keep this in Mind the Next Time You Play Poker
In just about any hand of Texas Hold’em, there will be a pre-flop raiser. A lot of times you’ll see that same person make a continuation bet on the flop, if they bet first or if the others checked up to them. Because pre-flop raisers often make continuation bets, the rest of the table should expect this and often check to them, giving that player the opportunity to make the first move. So if you act after the pre-flop raiser who has just made the continuation bet, you have a sticky wicket if there are others who will act after you. Those who checked could have anything in their hands, and you’re stuck in the middle. The pre-flop raiser could have a solid hand and has made the continuation bet to push up the pot. The player who checked could have just about anything.
The best spot to be in when this happens is just to the right of the pre-flop raiser. This means that your action will end the betting of that round when the continuation bet comes down. The worst spot you can be in is to the raiser’s immediately left. You have to act first after that bet, and you have people sitting behind you who could have anything at all. Always keep an eye on your relative position, as it could influence what happens to you going into the flop and for the rest of the hand.