AngusD switched from pro chess to poker two decades ago and has been professionally involved in the game on numerous levels since the very beginning of online poker, including playing as a poker ambassador both online and at major festivals around the globe. He has written much about the game over the years, and brings to YPD a wealth of experience in all aspects of the poker industry. Meanwhile, his many years on the pro chess circuit (he’s an International Master and prolific author) afford him an interesting perspective on the psychology of poker.

· Published 19.08.2021 · last updated 19.08.2021

We can never stress enough the importance of position in poker, the concept cropping up time and time again in countless situations and strategies. This article focuses on the implications of position in post-flop play. Ideally, we’d like to approach those hands in which we do decide to get involved with a hefty dose of aggression.

It stands to reason that, when trying to engineer a strategy aimed at using aggression as a means of assuming control and taking down a pot, our position in relation to the opposition in terms of the sequence of play is going to be significant.

When contemplating a course of action it should be a natural part of our thought process that we think ahead, in this context this would be formulating a plan revolving around aggression on successive streets. Having a positional advantage might not necessarily be a decisive factor, but it certainly adds – at the least – potentially important flexibility that affords us additional options. Incidentally, if you’re reading this and the notion of thinking ahead when playing poker is alien to you, then you’re practising a multi-level game with a single-level approach is seriously holding you back!

Before thinking about the benefits of position, let’s take a look at how life is made that bit more difficult for us when we don’t have such an advantage at our disposal. One example of our influence – and, consequently, choices – being more limited when out of position is that in our endeavour to win a pot we can find ourselves resorting to bluffing when it might not be a move that’s sufficiently justified. This is because checking is a much less desirable option when we’re not guaranteed to immediately move to the next street. Instead, if we are to stamp our authority on proceedings, we turn to bluffing which, typically, can lead us into trouble. Moreover, to compound the problem, we might have to bluff a couple of streets.

This is in stark contrast to the options available when in position. Position guarantees us, for instance, the option of taking a free card when checked to if this is a more prudent course than bluffing. Meanwhile, position can be a crucial factor when looking to value bet, particularly when we have a good but not great hand. Being out of position in a situation that lends itself to value betting means proceedings can become – along with the size of the pot – problematic, often requiring a leap of faith by the River. It’s a different kettle of fish entirely when we have position. In fact, with a positional advantage, we can ramp up the aggression when value betting the next two streets because we know we’ll have so much more control of the pot on the River (note the importance of planning ahead here).

Pot control – and planning around it – can never be underestimated, both in the negative aspect of not having enough and the potentially positive results when we’re in control. Position, then, can have a decisive influence on how we go about either engineering a practical approach as we devise and execute a post-flop plan when we don’t have it, or a powerful weapon in our armoury when endeavouring to maximise the potential at each street, including the River when we are fortunate enough to have position on our opponents. Note how what we’ve featured here should make the often tricky subject of Continuation Betting easier to get our heads around…

Post-flop, multi-street betting can be an intimidating prospect but it really should have a place in every would-be serious player’s box of tricks. The more we appreciate the role of position in this equation, the easier the game will become.

Have fun at the tables…

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