October 10, 2011

Fix Your Ailing Redline – Position

Your red line is hurt by a whole bunch of factors, among which playing hands out of position is quite probably one of the biggest. Telling you not to play out of position may indeed seem like beating a dead horse, and a good player should know all about the woes that accompany out-of-position play. Still it happens, either because of lack of discipline or simply because it just does.

Playing from early position is like climbing into the ring with Mike Tyson: you position yourself at a great disadvantage, you're basically cruising for a bruising. Your opponent will have full control of the hand and the pot, therefore your non-showdown winnings will suffer greatly from early position.

The best way to give you a glimpse of how playing out of position hurts your red line is through an example. The situation presented in this example is so common it happens several times in every session.

In a $1/$2 game, with $200 effective stacks, you pick up an As, 10s in the BB. You're in the BB, itching to mount a defense, and you have a hand which isn't exactly the worst staring hand you can imagine, so you decide to go for it. Everyone folds and the button – the position most likely to attempt to steal your BB – makes it $7. The small blind gets out of the way and you decide to keep the guy honest. After all, he's quite certainly abusing his position. The flap falls J, 10, 2 rainbow and you're in a bit of trouble, especially after you see that your opponent fires out a $12 bet. You make another call and a K lands on the turn. This is where you're in real trouble. You have two options out of this situation and none of these options is a good one.

You can fold right there and then and give up 10BBs while giving your opponent the satisfaction that he did indeed got the better of you thanks to nothing else but his position. The other option is to call and hope that your opponent doesn't fire a third barrel on the river. If he fires that third barrel, you will be forced to fold, and in that case, you'll drop 23 BBs. It's the definition of a lose/lose situation, for which only poor position is to blame.

Playing out of position creates tough decisions for you, and tough decisions come with a high error percentage in poker.

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