When one is discussing a hand, what position the player is in, in relation to the dealer button is almost certainly brought up. “Was he in on the button?” “Did he open from the cutoff?” “She 3-bet from the hijack seat”. Why is your position so relevant in poker? Also, what do “cutoff” and “hijack” even mean?
In a full ring game the positions are usually referred to as such:
- Under the Gun, or UTG: they’re on the left of the big blind, they have to act first pre-flop.
- UTG +1: left of the UTG, next to act pre-flop
- Middle Position or MP – not in the middle at all pre-flop, but they are in the middle post-flop. Left of UTG+1, they’re next to act pre.
- Lojack – left of MP, next to act pre-flop
- Hijack – left of LJ, next to act pre-flop
- Cutoff – left of HJ, next o act pre-flop
- Button – the person on the dealer button. The last to act pre-flop before the blinds; also post-flop the action starts on the left of them, so they are guaranteed to act last on the later streets.
- Small Blind
- Big blind
Out of these positions, the most strategically advantageous is the button. You should play most of your hands from there since having to act after everybody else post-flop gives you a big edge – you’ll have extra information about your opponents’ hands on later streets. You can play over 50% of the cards you get dealt from the button.
It’s important to know that you should open very tight from early position – that’s because you’re up against all the other ranges at the table who haven’t played their hands yet. The chances that you’re up against a big hand is a lot bigger than it is when it gets folded around to you on the button.
You can also play more hands from the big blind – that’s because you’re getting better pot odds than the other positions since you don’t have to put that much more additional money into the pot to see the flop. You should defend your big blind wider if the open comes from a later position and call tighter if it comes from an early position. As we discussed, players who are first to act should raise with a stronger range.
If you spot a player who’s folding their big blinds too often, you can raise basically any two cards in the small blind if no-one opened before you. This is called stealing the blinds – at higher levels you’ll see players attacking the blinds aggressively, so be prepared to defend.