The Poker Button
Let’s get the basics out of the way for those of you who are completely new. The poker button aka the dealer button is a small disc that indicates who is the dealer in a hand of Texas Hold’em. Unless you’re having a poker night it doesn’t define the actual dealer, most casinos have professional dealers.
The two players to the left of the poker button have to post automatic bets known as the small and big blind. Being on the button means you are the last to act after every round of betting other than pre-flop where the big blind usually closes action.
Now the simple stuff is out of the way, I will explain why being on the button is fantastic.
Stealing the Blinds
One of the great things about being on the button is ability to steal the blinds and antes easier. When it folds to you on the button, often, you can just open raise two to three times the blinds and pick up pots every round. This may seem transparent to those in the blinds but consider their options. They can do one of the following:
3 Bet Lightly
This is a perfectly sound counter strategy to someone playing too many hands on the button. This is certainly something advocated by many professionals. However, they have to risk far more than the open raiser to pick up their raise. They are exposing themselves more. The problem with this strategy is that an astute player will call a 3 bet in position here a reasonable amount of the time, in the knowledge that they can pick up pots post flop or hit a hand and make money/chips.
Defend the Blinds
They may choose rather than 3 betting, to simply call a wider range from the small or big blind. This again is a legitimate strategy to employ as your range should be wider if they are opening wider. The problem is, you are out of position for the rest of the hand. This is not ideal for a beginner, intermediate or advanced player. The best players will play out of position if they think they need to, but even they won’t be thrilled about it.
Information is King
The poker button allows you to have more information at any point in the hand than your opponents. As I’ve said many times before, poker is a game of incomplete information. Players are acting on the information they have at hand and if you are acting after them all the time, you have more information than them.
This concept is not fully appreciated by beginners, they don’t fully grasp what a massive advantage this gives you. Instead, they will play their cards and fit or fold poker without a care or worry. The better players will utilise this advantage as much as possible. This informational advantage means you can play more hands and 3 bet before flop more liberally as players are often reluctant to play 3 bet pots out of position.
Pot Control is Easier
Being on the button allows you to control the size of the pots much better. You are able to manipulate the pot how you wish. This is not possible out of position. You can try blocker bets and probing bets but if your opponent re-raises you than you’re stuffed and have to play a bigger pot.
Value Bet More Accurately
Being last to act allows you to put in more optimal value bets. If a scare card comes and you are out of position, you are likely to check and often this will be a check-check situation. On the button, you get to see your opponent check more. Therefore, you have the opportunity to put in more accurate value bets that will get you paid and make more money.
More Bluffing Opportunities
No doubt about it, bluffing is far more prevalent on the button than anywhere else at the poker table. Consider a 3-way pot with a 4-diamond board and you’re first to act. You generally won’t bet out into the other two players on a bluff here as you’re betting into the unknown. Now, consider when you are the player acting after two opponents have checked. This is a pretty easy scenario to put in a bluff isn’t it? Our bluffing a course has a module dedicated to multi-way in position bluffs.
Being on the button allows you to steal the blinds, value bet more accurately, pot control and bluff more easily. All in all, it is the one position at the table that you will earn more money than any other position. This is not speculation, it’s fact. Ask any serious poker player to look at their stats from their poker software to find out which position they have made the most money from. It will be unanimous that the button is the best place – provided they have some decent volume.
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“Dealer Button – Poker” by pokerphotos is licensed under CC BY 2.0