Are you just starting out as a poker player? If so, one of the best things you can spend your time on developing is your table position. Your table position (early, middle and last) is an important determinant of how well your game starts out and plays along in terms of starting hand requirements. Fear not, for it does not take a rocket scientist – nor a soothsayer – to arrange one. This simple guide will be all that you need to follow.
It all begins under the gun, or to the left of the big blind, and work your way all around the whole table until it reaches the blinds. It is important to note that when you are “under the gun”, you should try to stick to the most stringent of starting hands requirements as possible. The reason for this is the whole table follows your lead and if you start off with a weak hand then there is a good chance a raise will follow and you will most likely throw away your weak hand. The only thing to play in this position is raising hands. In addition, try to add a big hand or a middle pocket pair in the mix for the first and as well as the second position.
In a table of ten, the third, fourth and fifth players are in the middle position. With this, you can breathe a bit easier but still need to adhere to the tight requirements if you can. Ideally, it is recommended to play mostly raising hands and keep the non-raising ones to a minimum (suggestions: suited connectors, low pocket pairs, etc.). Many poker pros say that playing 8-9s or even J-8s in a middle position is considered to be the worst hands, so steer clear of those.
When you are in the last position, try to play your loosest game and relax a bit since you most likely know all the hands of the other players at the table. This allows you to figure out which hand types will allow you to stay strong in this final position. You can confidently play all types of pocket pairs as well as suited connectors for as long as they are not worse off than 7-6s.
It is OK to play any combinations of face cards if you do not have an advanced strategy yet. Do not worry about the blinds anymore; at this stage, just focus on freely playing what you want because the money is already in the pot. However, what you should avoid doing is to raise the stakes if you are holding junk, since you have your chips in the pot. The same warning is given for a small blind; do not add another chip by virtue of it being half price, because it definitely adds up and you will find yourself wasting chips without anything to gain soon after. You may find that you will not get the hang of it right away, as it usually takes a bit of trial and error to figure out which hands are worth playing at every phase – but as with anything, practice makes perfect!