Poker Out of Position Sucks Doesn’t it?

Playing poker out of position can feel like your playing blind folded or in the dark, not knowing what your opponent will do!

Introduction to Poker Out of Position

The majority of poker enthusiasts have heard playing poker out of position is worse than in position, but they don’t truly understand the reasons why.  Why is it such a bad idea to play pots out of position? Why can’t I win as much playing out of position? This article will look at three reasons why playing poker out of position sucks.

Lack of Information

Poker is a game of information; you’re trying to find out what your opponents have while hide the hand you have. You’re trying to gain information throughout a hand intuitively so you can make the best decisions possible. The truth is, when you are out of position, you lack information on your opponents. You are always acting before them and don’t know what they are going to do. You are left with two main options, check and play carefully or bet into the unknown. Neither are great options, you’re either inflating the pot at times you don’t want to or playing passively.

It’s Difficult to Pot Control Effectively

As discussed in a previous article, pot control is very important to the expert poker player. They want to play poker on their terms, manage pot size how they want, relative to their hand strength, opponent and position. This is a challenging task to say the least when you’re playing pots out of position.

How can you control the pot when you’re the first to act? Bet and they can raise, check and they can bet still. When you’re in position, you are closing the action on each round of betting. This is better as it affords you the opportunity to check back, call, bet or re raise at your discretion.

Hard to Maximise Value

Another problem with playing poker out of position is the times you make your hand and want to get value; you will find it is hard to get the maximum. You’ll often find your opponent is just calling you, checking back or folding. You may make a turn call on a draw, hit your hand and then the dilemma comes on the river. Are you going to bet into your opponent? If so, how much is right to value bet? Are you going to try and check raise? Woe when your opponent checks back and you get nothing.

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Conclusion

There are times when you have to play out of position in poker, perhaps your hand is strong or you’re getting great pot odds against a weak player. But don’t look to play too many pots when you are learning as you will find it very difficult. Even the best of players doesn’t enjoy it and recognise most of their profits come from playing poker in position. Don’t handicap yourself playing pots out of position with questionable hands.

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What is Small Ball Poker?

Introduction to Small Ball Poker

A poker strategy that has exploded in popularity in the last few years, small ball is an overarching poker mentality used successfully by professionals, yet often misunderstood and poorly used by novices. There are several components to playing small ball; hand selection, bet sizing, position and table image.

Hand Selection

Small ball poker dictates playing a lot of poker with a variety of hands. If you want to attack many unwanted pots, you need to widen your opening range. This varies player to player, but most professionals accept that suited connectors, suited aces and the paint cards have the most play-ability and equity to warrant including in opening raise ranges.

Bet Sizing

Small ball poker is what you expect, small bets. Professionals understand that a smaller, probing type bet accomplishes the same thing as a bigger bet and for less risk. This means many cheap bluffs.

The underlying concept is that the player is consistent though. It’s no use sizing your bets differently based on hand strength, otherwise your opponents will correctly read your hand. It doesn’t take long to figure this out.

Consistent bet sizing is critical to small ball poker. It means you can accomplish cheap bluffs but also extract value.

Position

As always, position is important. Small ball experts will play as many pots in position as they can. They understand there are an abundance of chips to be picked up in pots that people aren’t interested in contesting. As such, they will be opening an incredibly high amount of pots in position when it folds to them and also be calling raises in position if multi way and cheap. The reason being they can risk few chips to gain many. They understand the implied odds. They can play the three four of hearts for a small raise when stack sizes are 100 bb + because they are risking 2.5 big blinds to bust a weak player who is prone to overplaying their pocket Aces on a 3s 3h Kd type flop.

Table Image

The beauty of small ball is the image you project to your opponents. By playing many pots you are giving the illusion you are a bit wild and almost certainly a bluffer. After all, you are playing many pots and often betting and winning without showdown.

On close inspection though, the small ball expert is not betting crazily and big amounts. They are often betting 30-50% of the pot and carefully wagered, often heads up pots or when the time is right. In short, the table image a small ball player projects is perfect! An opponent may notice after hours of lost pots, take a stand and then bust out when they finally realise that the small baller is only playing big pots with monster hands.  

Warning

Small ball requires a player to be expert before and after the flop, experienced and attentive. Don’t try this style of poker if you are not confident playing many different scenarios. It’s also worth pointing out this is not the ideal strategy for most cash games and is mostly utilised in tournaments to build a stack without much risk.

This article has touched on just a few parts involved in small ball poker. If you are interested in knowing more or want mentoring in small ball, email us at info@texasholdemquestions.com.

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Under the Gun is No Fun

What does under the gun mean in poker?

Don’t worry it doesn’t mean there’s a rifle above your head. Under the gun is a phrase in poker referred to the position when acting first before the flop in Texas Holdem. From a strategic point of view, it is the worst position to be in as you have the least information available at that point. You have 8 players to act behind you before the potential to see the flop. For this reason, it is usually identified as a position that requires playing fewer and stronger hands. Even the loosest of of loose aggressive (LAG) players know that it is unprofitable to play a wide range of hands from under the gun.

under the gun
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Why do I need to play tighter from under the gun?

It is not just about having less information before the flop. One must remember that Texas Holdem is played across multiple rounds of betting. By playing from under the gun, you will often be the first to act on each street or between players. This makes it very challenging to play hands and pot control how you wish. Look at the example hand below to illustrate this.
 

Example Hand from Under the Gun

You decide to raise from under the gun with:

You are called by 1 player in mid position (loose), a tight aggressive player on the button and the big blind too. Everyone has deep stacks.

The flop comes:


The big blind checks. What do you do? You are in a tricky position as you have 2 people behind you but you also have 2nd pair and a good kicker. Betting and check- deciding both seem reasonable but what about the turn and river too? What is your plan? You are prone to getting bluffed out as your hand can’t take much resistance and you can’t expect to value bet with impunity.

Unless you make a very strong hand that is easy to play or you are heads up against one of the blinds, it is not an appealing option to be playing weak or medium strength hands from under the gun. This is only desirable if you can paly post flop excellently and have a weak table.

Final Thoughts

Strong players are opening their range of raising hands when in early position. They have correctly read that players will fold reasonable hands when facing an open raise. There is also deception in open raising the suited connectors and suited aces from early position. A word of caution of to you though. This is only profitable to the most experienced of players who are confident in awkward post flop scenarios. Playing a wide range of hands from under the gun will place you in tricky scenarios that can cost you chips.

So, next time you have K-T or A-8 under the gun, think twice!

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Battle of the Blinds – Tips to Win

Battle of the Blinds Introduction

People don’t talk about blind battles much and I don’t know why? Every round you have a decision to play from these positions and a reasonable amount of the time it’s just the two of you.

How many times does it fold to the small blind and you pray he will give you a walk? Or you’re in the small blind and dreading raising but do it anyway?

Let’s start with some reasonable assumptions about how our most players play in battle of the blinds.

  1. People always assume you are stealing in blind battles.
  2. Players generally try to bluff more in the blinds both pre and post flop.
  3. Your opponents don’t like to fold a pair heads up in blind battles.

Now we have some basic facts and assumptions, we can adjust our strategy accordingly.

Playing From The Small Blind


As people often think we will be stealing; we need to be more straightforward. Our strategy for playing in the small blind is obviously to win the pot…But what is the best way to accomplish this?

I suggest playing the strong hands for value by raising and betting. We should be more cautious and try to show down our weak showdown hands like Ace or King high by checking and bluff catching.

As weak as it sounds, with weak hands, we should only complete the big blind. We can then make probe bets after the flop; hoping our opponent has missed. This is a realistic way of winning the pot. The big blind will respect the fact we have not just tried to steal pre flop and often just fold post flop.

It is not in our interest to raise and inflate the pot from the small blind with junk hands. The only time this is profitable is if the opponent is very tight or disinterested and likely to fold. The majority of players will defend wide from the big blind. Therefore, we need to be more careful as they suspect we are stealing the blinds.

Playing From The Big Blind


We will be in position throughout the hand so we should defend wide either by calling pre-flop raises or putting in a 3 bet pre-flop ourselves. Both strategies work very well as we have 2 things working for us before the flop is even dealt. We are the pre-flop aggressor and we have position. When we have strong hands, we also have the mathematical edge on our side too.

In the big blind, you should intend on playing as many hands against the small blind as possible. They will often be raising pre-flop just to steal with no consideration on how they will play post flop. In fact, many of these pre-flop raisers will give up on the flop and an even greater give up when called with a continuation bet. This is an effective strategy to countering both strong and weak players.

I hope this article has made you think about the battle of the blinds more. If you use the tips in this post, you should fare better in the future.

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