PositionThe most important concept to understand in Texas Hold'em poker is your position at the table. We're not talking about whether you're near the bar or toilets, but where you are in the order of play.
Put simply, if you can decide whether to bet, fold or call after your opponents, then your decisions will be easier, which will mean you will win more.
Here's some examples that will demonstrate the power of position;
You open in early position with KK and your opponent on the button calls. The flop comes out 72A, what do you do? The difficulty you face is that you have almost no information about your opponents hand at this point - he simply called your raise. He probably doesn't have AK, AA or KK as he would have raised (maybe), but does he have an ace? What about a pair? You have two choices, bet or check. Kings are pretty good so you bet, but you're not happy.
The BTNButton position. The player who has the dealer 'button' or marker. This position is the last to act on postflop now has an easier decision than you did. He knows you are willing to put money in either because your hand has strength or as a bluff. If he has an ace he can call or raise depending on how he wants to extract value from his hand. If he doesn't have an ace he can simply fold and all he lost was his preflop raise - poor value for KK.
Being out of position means a) you have to take a chance that either your opponent has a hand or doesn't. b) it's difficult to get value out of your hand - your opponent can fold at any time without risking any money, whereas you had to risk more money to stay in the hand.
You're on the button with KT (KTs). Everyone folds except the MP who opens with a raise, and you call the raise (the blinds fold). The flop is 72A, missing you completely. The MP checks. You haven't a hand, but the MP doesn't seem to either - you make a continuation bet and the MP folds. You're using that ace on the board as a scare card to fold out hands that missed completely, and probably even the hands that made a weak pair of deuces or sevens.
Being in position means you can gauge whether a bluff is a viable move. They may be faking weakness of course, but by doing so they'll also be losing the potential to make money with their hands - either way being in position is better.
You're on the cut off with QT, intending to enter the pot. The UTG'Under The Gun' position. Preflop this player will be the first to act on a betting round (on later streets the blinds will be the first to act) opens with a raise and you're now uncertain whether it's a good idea to call - the player in the UTG understands position as well and is probably playing a very strong hand. Then the MP raises again. Now it's an easy fold - too many players showing a lot of strength preflop, it's not worth entering this pot, and it's better to wait for another spot.
From the perspective of the UTG this is even worse - not only has the opponent shown a lot of strength with the raise, but for the rest of the hand the UTG will be out of position. If he misses the flop it'll be a huge risk to bluff with a pot that's already large and an opponent who's made a large bet. In other words his opponent will have all the initiative in the hand.
You're in MP with A8. You open with a raise and only the button calls. The flop comes out K29 giving you the flush draw. You only have a 30% chance of hitting it but if you do it'll be a monster. You check to see if you can draw out, and the button checks behind. The turn is the 4 and you make your draw! You bet to cash in on your monster, and the button folds. All you won was the preflop bet.
Being out of position make it extremely difficult to get value out of draws, especially when they're very obvious draws like flushes. As soon as the draw completes your in-position opponent can easily fold to any bet.
The Impact of PositionPosition will determine everything about how you play your hands.
Preflop it defines which hands you'll open with and which you'll fold (see the starting hands chart - the power of position means you can play many more hands from late position).
Postflop it will give the ability to value bet or bluff effectively. In position you will know if your opponent is showing weakness or strength, and your betting decisions will be easier. Out of position you're betting into a vacuum, and could be walking into a disaster.