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Relative Position

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Table position is really important in poker Texas Hold'em, if you are an experienced poker player you should know it. Getting to see the way in which your opponents play when you are acting last will give you an advantage and will help you decide how to act.

In general, the most profitable positions are the button and the cut off and they are the most coveted ones too because you'll have position over the other players in the pot.

However, the concept of "relative position" is another important factor when it comes to the value of your current position at the poker table.

What is relative position?

Relative position refers to the position you have compared to the pre-flop raiser.

In a Texas Hold'em game you'll always find a pre-flop raiser, and your position at the table compared to this raiser may be good or bad and it will depend on the place in which you are sitting and how many players act after you.

Relative position sometimes plays such an important role in a hand that it could make your current position look worthless no matter if you are on the button and you are the last player to act. As a result, you should be familiar with these following principles.

Relative position and continuation bets

As we said before, there is usually a preflop raiser in any poker hold'em hand. At the same time, this preflop raiser usually will make a continuation bet after the flop when they are first to act or in case opponents have checked to them.

They do this because they represent a good poker hand and as a result they have the possibility to win having or not a good hand. The fact that a preflop raiser will make a continuation bet on the flop is the basis of the principle of relative position and its significance.

Since preflop raisers usually make a continuation bet, the other opponents generally expect this and check to the preflop raiser when they are the first to act, just to see what the preflop raiser does.

You'll be in a tricky situation if you are the player who has to act after the opponent who made the continuation bet. The opponents who checked the raiser can have any kind of hand, from a strong hand to a weak hand and you'll be sandwiched between:

  • An opponent who may have a potentially monster hand making the continuation bet
  • An opponent who checked to the raiser and who may have a wide range of hands.

An example of relative position

Suppose you are on the button and you hold QClover JHeart , and the opponent in the late position raises 3.5BB. The other opponents in late position decide to fold to you, and you decide to call because you have a decent poker hand. The small blind decides to fold and the big blind calls and as a result three players get to the flop. The flop is QDiamond 7Spades 6Clover , and you get a decent top pair. The BB checks to the raiser, who in turn decided to make a ¾ pot size bet.

No matter what play you make, you won't close the action and this is a problem because the player who is behind you will have the chance to act again. You are now between a player who may have a strong hand and has made a continuation bet and a player who may have a strong hand because the fact that he checked does not represent strength or weakness.

If your relative position is a poor one, your actual position at the table will not count as much.

The check made by your opponent does not count as a sign of weakness or of strength because they know that the preflop will make a continuation bet and they check because they intend to raise when the action gets back to them. Here is what is happening:

(big blind) Player A: checks
(preflop raiser) Player B: bets
(us) Player C: ?? <-- Sandwiched

Calling is not a bad option in this situation but you could lose chips to the player in the SB if they choose to check raise. Besides, if the small blind chooses to call too, you'll go to the turn and you'll face the same tricky situation you faced on the flop.

In this situation, you could potentially lose a lot of chips since you have a decent hand but you don't have much information about what your opponents are holding. You can, however, raise the preflop raiser's bet to collect more information but the price would be a large number of chips for each small blind or preflop raiser who has a better hand than yours.

Relative position evaluation

Your position relative to the preflop raiser can influence your actual position at the table. The right to the preflop raiser is the best relative position to have at the poker table since you'll close off the action in the betting round if the raiser does not make the usual continuation bet.

You'll also have the opportunity to see the reaction of the opponents who checked to the raiser when the raiser makes the continuation bet and this will give you more information about where you stand in the hand. You should always evaluate your relative position in a hand because it may have a big impact on your hand.

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