Poker Theory Fundamentals I: Meet The King

Poker Theory Fundamentals I : Meet The King - Position in Poker - Spin & Go Strategy

There are very few things more important to becoming a strong poker player than understanding the power of position in poker. Perhaps you’ve witnessed this phenomenon for yourself in a low-stake cash game; a couple of inexperienced players will just call the big blind as opposed to raising (aka limp) from early position and the player on the button raises (aka iso).

Generally, if the first limper goes ahead and folds, the rest do as well and the button takes down the pot uncontested. Alternatively, if the first limper calls a chain reaction of additional calls follows and, when the flop comes AA4 everyone checks to the button and s/he makes a small bet (aka cbet) and, more often than not, takes down the pot. Is the button holding an ace? Maybe. But if the player is a positionally aware one, he could be isoing nearly any two cards in that situation and cbetting the vast majority of them on the flop.

This is also why the button is the most powerful position in poker; because s/he will get to act last on every street (and third to last preflop, before the SB and BB).

The positionally aware player in the above example can control the size of the pot by checking after everyone else has checked, thereby getting to see a turn card for free, or he can begin firing away and potentially putting his opponents to multiple tough decisions. And the more tough decisions you force your opponents to make, the more likely they are to eventually make a mistake (or multiple mistakes).

Essentially, being out of position is like being in a boxing match where you have to warn your opponent before every single punch you throw.

Doesn’t sound like a very good game plan, does it?

Because while you may slip a lucky shot through your opponent’s defences every now and again, more often than not you’re going to end up laying on your back seeing stars wondering why you even agreed to enter a fight at such a massive disadvantage.

Yet, in poker, people voluntarily accept this disadvantage over and over again and wonder why they never seem to win a fight.

So now that we understand why position is so important, how do we utilize this tool to increase our edge in games such as Spin & Go Tournaments? Well, the obvious first thing to do is to find out where the positional advantages are actually found.

This is quite easy to do with Spin And Go SNGs as there are only 3 positions to consider: BTN, SB & BB. And since we already know the BTN is the most powerful position of all, we immediately recognize that each and every time we are in this position our opponents will be at a large disadvantage and we should therefore exploit the situation by raising a wider range or, to oversimplify, we should be raising a lot of hands (remember, range refers to the entire collection of hands we, or our opponents, are likely to have in each situation).

Notice too that limping on the button is a viable option because unless one of our opponents goes all in, we will still have the option to just call their iso raise and play the remainder of the hand in position.

For this reason many players choose to limp the button with hands that they would like to see the flop with but can’t call an all-in reraise with, hands like KTo or Q9o, for example.

Next is the SB position, which is actually the worst position of the three due to the fact that it will be playing out of position for the entire hand both against the BTN and the BB.

One way to minimize the inherent disadvantage against the BTN is to call a relatively tight range (meaning, fewer hands) and reraising (aka 3betting) more to take the initiative away from our opponent and exploit the fact that we know s/he is likely to be raising a relatively wide range themselves and will therefore often be unwilling or unable to put up much resistance against our aggression.

And while we know we will be at a positional disadvantage when playing as the SB against the BB (aka bvb), we actually usually want to widen our range (aka play more hands) in this situation since we only have to get 1 person to fold as opposed to 2 and the fact that most recreational players simply do not defend the BB enough when facing a raise.

However, when playing a more experienced player who we can expect to fight for every chip, tightening our range from the SB will often be optimal (as well as employing plays like floating, or limping and then reraising the BB’s iso raise).

And finally, the last position we need to worry about in the Spin & Go games is the big blind.

Although this position is at a similar disadvantage against the BTN as the SB, it is a much more preferable position since we will always have the positional advantage against the SB and we can also call BTN raises with a much wider range since we no longer have to fear someone else reraising behind us (the act of getting the last bet is known as “closing the action”).

Additionally, we can call an ever wider range against a SB raise when the BTN folds since we know we will have positional advantage throughout the hand and can often call cbets with relatively weak holdings (aka floating) with the intention of taking the pot away from our opponent at a later point in the hand .

For these reasons and many more that are covered in much greater detail in our poker training videos. We can see that, in poker, position really is King.

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