Pre-flop poker positions are a very important part of poker strategy.
There’s two reasons for that. One, how many people are left to act after you make your first move in a hand is important. The more players are left, the less equity your hand has. Second, your poker positions pre-flop tell you whether you’re going to play in or out of position post-flop. Being in position means going after your opponent has acted, which is very valuable in poker strategy.
Therefore, whenever you hear a professional or a good, winning recreational player recant a hand, they tend to start with which position they were in. Meanwhile, less experienced players often neglect that key piece of information, and focus on their and their opponents’ hands alone.
Pre-flop poker positions are always dictated by the placement of the button. This dealer button goes around clockwise, getting placed in front of a new player every hand. The player to the immediate left of the button has to post the small blind; while the player to the left of them has to post the big blind.
Pre-flop poker positions are so important, in fact, that they have specific names. You can often hear poker buffs say words like “I was in the cutoff” or “the player in the lojack seat”. These may sound esoteric for a new player. However, we’re here to explain.
Under the Gun
The first player to act pre-flop is called Under the Gun, often abbreviated to UTG. They sit to the immediate left of the big blind. This is the least advantageous position, as not only do they have the whole table to go after them, but they’re also likely to be out of position after the flop. They only have position on the blinds. Therefore, you need to play the smallest amount of hands from this position.
The names of the following pre-flop poker positions depend on how many players are at the table. Let’s start with a full-ring, meaning a 9-handed table.
The next player, sitting to the left of the UTG seat is often called UTG+1. Then, the Middle Position player, MP for short, sometimes referred to as “UTG+2”. The next one, however, has a unique name: it is the lojack seat.
It’s got named after its relation to the next position at the table, the hijack seat.
The hijack seat is called that because of its ability to “hijack” a hand. In most cases, players with a high level of understanding of poker strategy tend to expect the first pre-flop raises from the poker positions of the cutoff and the button at a full ring table. These two are the two most tactically advantageous poker positions – more on that later. But the player going right before them can derail those expectations by putting in a raise themselves.
However, this isn’t to suggest that raising from a position before the cutoff and the button is too loose, or even out of the ordinary. You should definitely raise the top of your range from there, as well as a balanced amount of bluffs. It’s just that in most hands, the first raises come from the CO or the button, hence the name of the lowjack and the hijack seat.
Cutoff and Button
So, we’ve already given away the name of the next seat, the cutoff (sometimes abbreviated to CO). Then, the most important of the poker positions comes: thebutton.
Why is it the most important one? It’s because whoever sits in this position gets to act last after the flop. This is a huge advantage, as this player will have additional information about their opponents’ hands; as well as be able to close the action. This, coupled with the fact that you only have the two blinds to play against pre-flop if it gets folded around to you, means you should play most of your hands from this position.
The player to the left of the button is called the small blind. They have to post a certain amount, usually half of the big blind, every hand before the cards are dealt. This player is guaranteed to play out of position in the hand. Therefore, if someone already opened before you, you should call tight. You should also 3-bet a bigger part of your continuing range than in other positions, and to a bigger size.
While you should be generally tight in the SB if there has been a raise, if it folds around to you, you can raise as wide as the button, or even a little wider. That is because you only have one player remaining in the hand, and the chance of them having a premium hand is very low. You can profitably try to “steal” their blinds often.
The last position at the table is the big blind. They too have to post a blind pre-flop. However, they also go last before the flop and get better pot odds because of their blind raise. If there has been no more than one raise pre-flop, they can close the action or go for a raise themselves, sometimes called “a squeeze”.
These are what all the poker positions are called at a 9-handed table. If you play 6-handed, the first, Under the Gun position is immediately followed by the hijack seat. From then on, the order remains the same.
If you play heads-up, the small blind and the button merge into the same position. In that case, you can play as wide as 80-90% of hands. This is because not only are you up against only one range of random hands, you also have the positional advantage in the hand too.
Knowing what the pre-flop poker positions are called is just the very beginning of a sound, winning poker strategy. If you wish to learn more about it please visit https://www.pokerclarity.com/special.