By: Paul Hewson
One of the first concepts new poker players need to understand is position. You have to take turns when you play poker, and since poker is a game of incomplete information, it's usually best to go last. That way, you can react to what your opponents do with at least some idea of what cards they might have. You, meanwhile, could still have anything.
Unfortunately, you don't get to choose whose turn it is. Someone has to go first, and when you're playing Hold'em, Omaha or Omaha Hi/Lo, that person is the player seated under the gun. If that player chooses to open, he or she will always be out of position against everyone else post-flop – everyone except the blinds, that is. If the player is in the hand, the small blind always acts first post-flop, then the big blind. That makes playing out of the blinds difficult, even if you're getting a good price to call.
Difficult doesn't have to mean complicated. When you're playing out of position, your options are limited, and many of the best decisions you can make are quite standard. For example, if you call someone's opening raise from the big blind in Hold'em, your best move on the flop is almost always to check. Making a lead bet out of position (also known as donking) should be saved for special situations that don't come up very often.
Here's another move you should avoid: calling out of the small blind. You don't get as good a price to call as you do from the big blind, and you're going to be out of position post-flop. Plus, there are only a few hands you could have where calling would make sense – medium pocket pairs and weak suited Broadways are the obvious candidates in Hold'em. If you call, your opponent can put you on a very narrow range of cards. Might as well just 3-bet or fold instead.
But what if you open from under the gun and the button 3-bets you? Don't panic. Again, this is a good spot to either 4-bet (if you have, say, pocket Tens or better, Ace-King, or Ace-Queen suited) or fold in Hold'em. Things will get more complicated in later position, where you might call OOP with suited connectors and such, but even those situations can be studied, practised, and made second nature. That's the best position of all to put yourself in.