This is a discussion taken out of our very popular poker forum. A beginner was asking about what we mean by position and why it’s important. Some of our more experienced players eloquently described the importance of position in the game of Texas Hold’em.
You have position on the players to your right (since you act after them most of the time), players on your left have position on you (since they usually act after you.) Hold’em is a VERY positional game. Money tends to flow clockwise around the table, hence you want position on the players who are giving a lot and give position to players that aren’t taking much.
It means that you will go after them. Acting last is a major advantage because you can use the information they give you by their actions to make better plays.
Acting last is huge because many players will auto-bet when checked to as last to act. By acting last yourself, you have the option to steal or take the free card.
I’ll add my 2 cents.
Now that you know position means you’re the last to act. Here’s why it matters.
When you have position, then you have more information than anyone else at the table. You’ve seen what others are going to do (bet, check or raise, or fold to a previous bet) and you can infer the strength of their cards based on that.
Then you get to decide what you’re going to do. If it’s bet and raised before it gets to you, then you need really great cards to stay in. If everyone checks to you, then you might be able to assume they are weak and bet to steal (or take the hand) or check to get a free card to improve your hand.
You can play slightly poorer cards if you have position, because you aren’t acting “in the dark” (i.e. without information). BUT, and this is important, you have to act on the information you get. Don’t ignore it.
Advanced poker is a game of INFORMATION – getting information, giving information, giving false information, etc. How people bet and from what position they do it gives you information. How they played previous hands is information you can use. I just called a guy all in in a 3 table $30 tournament. I had trip 9’s. I have pocket 9’s and call preflop (because I’m out of position – position matters). The board flops a 9 and 2 clubs. I bet strong, he calls. The river is a 3rd club. I bet strong, he goes AI. I call and win the hand. HOW DID I KNOW HE WAS BLUFFING? I had noticed over the course of the game that when he hesitates for a while before doing an aggressive act (like betting or raising) that he had a monster hand. But when he DIDN’T hesitate before an aggressive move, he was bluffing or had 2nd best hand (like top pair with a bad kicker).
Another way to get information is to throw out a bet. Here you’re buying information. Preflop you have whatever (it doesn’t matter) and the flop misses you. But you think it missed the other guy too. You’re in early position. You throw out a bet and see what comes back – a fold, call or raise. A fold is good, a raise is good too! You now have information. A call gives less information.
INFORMATION = MONEY. Position = More information.