Poker positions are the seating arrangement around a poker table. A player’s position is important as it can determine how to act during a hand.

Professional online poker players play most of their hands when in position. They often fold more hands when forced to play from out of position and get more involved when they can have position. This is because they know the advantages to having position on an opponent following the flop.

Keen to learn more? In this guide, we’ll explain to you what the different positions are and why they’re used. Join us for this guide to poker positions and getting the most out of your poker game.

Poker Positions Explained

The seats occurring around a standard Texas No Limit Hold’em table are usually described in the following ways:

  • Early position
  • Middle position
  • Late position

The position refers to where a player is seated at the poker table and the location of the button and blinds that determine each of these positions, as you’ll see below.

Early Position*

Also known as EP, the early position usually refers to players who have to post the small blind (SB) and the big blind (BB), as well as the player who is sitting on the left of the big blind. It is that position which is often titled as “under the gun (UTG)”.

If you’re playing poker at a table with nine or ten hands, the next seat after that (UTG+1) may also be considered as an early position. This is because most of the table is noted as later positions, making this one relative to earlier positions.

Even though the SB and BB act last preflop, or after the UTG player and everyone else around the button, these still exist as early position seats. That’s because they will be acting first on every betting round that follows on from the flop.

Middle Position*

Unlike early position, this is the proceeding two or three seats at the poker table, leading up to the last two or three seats, that go by the name of middle positions, or MP.

Late Position*

Of course, everything else remaining on the poker table is then considered as late position seats, or LP. This includes the button, the cutoff (located to the right of the button), and the hijack seat (found to the right of the cutoff position).

It is prominent to note, of course, that in short-handed poker games (for example, those that feature a maximum of 6), the hijack would likely be better designated as one of the middle positions, rather than a late position.

Players who are proficient in No Limit Hold’em poker will usually opt to play most of their hands when in a late position, a smaller number when they are in middle positions, and rarely from an early position at the poker table. It remains the case that these players also tend to win most of their poker money when playing in a later position. Thus, it isn’t surprising to see the top poker players show up as net losers when gaming from an early position.

*Early Position – players sitting to the left of the big blind who will act first during the betting round.

*Middle Position – players seated between the early and late positions who will act second in the betting round.

*Late Position – players closest to the dealer button who can act after most other players have played their round.

Know the Different Positions in Poker

So, what are the poker positions? We’ve talked about their importance and what the positions at a poker table mean for you as a player. Yet we haven’t investigated the different positions in detail. That’s what we’ll provide details on now.

It is key to note before playing poker that most poker tables host anywhere from two to nine players. That depends upon both the format and the circumstances of the game itself. Most online real money poker games operate in a 6-handed format, for example. In comparison, most online and live tournaments at casino sites are played in a 9-handed format.

The former of those formats, the six-handed example, features six different positions for you to experience. Meanwhile, the latter has nine positions. These fall into the following categories:

Small Blind

The small blind sits to the left of the dealer at the poker table, and anyone in this position may have the privilege of seeing what others do before them. However, this isn’t enough to compensate for the fact that the small blind will also be the first player to act on each street following the flop, and this position won’t close the action either, thanks to there being a big blind. The range of the small blind is much narrower than the button for this reason. Small blinds must also put money into the pot before being able to see their cards, and that puts them at a disadvantage.


  • If all players fold to the SB, there is an excellent opportunity to steal
  • SB win rates are almost always higher than BB win rates


  • Has to invest before seeing their hole cards
  • Will always be out of position postflop
  • First to act in every round

Big Blind

The big blind follows on after the small blind, and this player must put the full big blind in before being able to see the cards. The big blind is the second player to act on each street after the flop, and this makes their position the worst at the table overall. In this position, you will need to play a wide range and up your defense. That is especially true when antes are in play, as you won’t be able to make up for putting the whole big blind in before being able to see your cards.


  • Mostly superior to the SB, but overall worst position at the table
  • One of the most important positions in poker, with a good defense strategy
  • Big blind player can see where other players stand prior to community cards arriving


  • Difficult to overcome the disadvantage of being forced to place a large bet
  • Big bet has to be made before hole cards can be seen

table positions in poker

Under the Gun

This serves as the worst position to be in preflop because anyone under the gun (UTG) has the least information of all players at the poker table. This is the player to the left of the big blind, and the player in that position can only decide what their move is based on the hand he or she holds. It is for this reason that the UTG has the tightest range of all players seated at the table. Yet, if you are short stacked, the UTG position can provide an opportunity to go all-in and steal the blinds, made even more possible should you have a good hand.


  • Opportunity to go all-in and steal blinds if you’re short stacked


  • Worst position at the table, as you have no information on the other players’ intentions
  • Tightest hand range of all players

Under the Gun 1 and Under the Gun 2

This position is marginally better than the UTG position. You know how the UTG position has acted, but there are still 7 opponents waiting to have their turn (if you’re playing 9-hand poker). Of course, they will also know what you decide to do, providing them with more insight. While you may be able to add a few extra hands in your opening range, you must continue playing in a relatively tight way.

Both the UTG +1 and UTG +2, alongside the standard UTG, are considered early positions at the 9-handed poker table. These are the hardest ones to play before the flop. Again, the least information about the opponents is present in UTG +2, only being slightly better than UTG and UTG +1. Try limiting your range to around 15% of hands with it.


  • Ideal for those adept at playing tighter in early positions
  • Possible to gain back some edge by playing a better range of poker hands


  • Hardest positions to play before the flop
  • After the flop, all players not in blinds will have a positional advantage


The lowjack at a 9-hand poker table operates in roughly the same way as the UTG in 6-handed poker. That’s because there is the same number of players left to act behind. It is also due to this that the players’ range of hands from the lowjack position remains relatively tight.


  • Possibility of setting the tone for the remainder of the game round
  • Players in this position often know immediately whether they have a strong enough hand to enter the pot
  • Helps to reduce the risk to your bankroll


  • Faces strong open-raising ranges
  • Limited when it comes to stealing from the BB and SB
  • Early positions subject lowjack to highest competition
  • Less knowledge of the state of your opponents’ hands
  • Cold calls can easily be overcalled or squeezed


The hijack position is a slightly better location to be in, as you get to see what early position players do prior to making decisions. Furthermore, there are fewer opponents after the hijack. This means that you have the chance to start adding more off-suit hands with blockers into the opening range as a result. Often noted as one of the middle positions in 6-handed format, it serves as an advantageous one due to more players taking their decisions beforehand.


  • Provides insight into what the early positions have done in a hand
  • Fewer opponents seated after the hijack position
  • Button and cutoff steals are common


  • Cold calls can be overcalled or squeezed by proceeding players


Situated to the right of the dealer, this position at the poker table allows you to be more adventurous. Cutoff players stand to get the most out of raising in an aggressive way, often forcing the button to fold. The button is the only position left to play after the cutoff, so if you make this fold, you are in position against the blinds throughout, and can therefore control the action.


  • Potential to start stealing blinds in an aggressive way
  • Forcing a fold by the button puts you in a controlling position
  • Chance for more believable bluffs
  • You can employ the 3 bet strategy
  • Potential to isolate limpers by raising over them


  • The button remains a more powerful seat


Of all positions, it is the button (BTN) that has the best of these at the table. This player has the privilege of seeing what the first three positions do, so can adjust accordingly when playing poker. Not only that, but the BTN is the last player to act on each street after the flop. As a result, it has the widest range of all players at the table. Most people would love to stay in the button position, thanks to how advantageous it is.


  • Best position at the table
  • Ability to see how everyone acts before you do
  • Last to act on street after every flop
  • Widest range of all players seated
  • Allows for highly effective bluffing


  • Doesn’t allow for an early bluff to occur

Why Are Poker Positions Important?

It’s not only important to know about the best positions, but to know why these positions are important. If you understand why these positions stand out, then you know how your gameplay can improve. Below, we have highlighted a few reasons why poker table positions are important to players.

The Opportunity for More Free Cards

If you have position on your opponent, there may come a time when you can take a “free card”. This can occur if your opponent checks while you are on a draw, thereby checking behind to see what the next community card is.

Let’s say, for example, that you decided to play suited connectors. You own the 9 of spades and the 8 of spades. The flop, meanwhile, stands at the J of spades, the 7 of hearts, and the two of spades. It is your opponent who must act first, and they decide to check. You could take the chance to bet at this point. Yet, you could also check behind, taking a “free card”. This gives you the chance to see if you can complete your flush. Securing any extra spade card would do that for you.

If you had been first to act in this circumstance, you are in no position to assure your opponent won’t bet and make you pay for sticking around in the hand in play.

Knowing Your Opponent’s Actions

This is perhaps the main advantage of having tabletop position in poker. You know precisely how your opponent has played before you determine your next move. That’s important information to take with you during gameplay. Whether they opt to check (frequently being an indicator of a weak hand), place a small bet, or place a big bet, you then get valuable information.

Many people explain poker as being a game of making the best decision based on imperfect information. Thus, the more information you have in a round, the better the decisions you can make. This is why having a better position grants you more knowledge for the game.

Pot Control

If you’re the player to act last on every postflop, then you are usually able to control how big or small the pot is that you end up playing for.

For example, if you have the intent to play a small pot and an opponent checks, you can proceed with checking behind. In that same scenario, if your opponent bets, then you can use the call option and close the round. On the other hand, if you want to play for a bigger pot, then you have the power to bet or raise when it’s your turn.

If you’re out of position, then you don’t have the chance to check and then be certain that your opponent will also check and let you see the next card for free. In addition, you cannot bet and be sure that your opponent will proceed with folding or using the call option.

More Opportunities to Engage in Bluffing

In poker, bluffing is one of the biggest strategies that a player can use to get the upper hand over their opponent(s). That’s why having position on an opponent can be so valuable – because it can frequently make up for you holding a weaker hand. So, even if your poker hand is weak, you are getting to act last, and therefore have the upper hand when trying to represent stronger poker hands.

So, you have many more chances to engage in bluffing if you hold a good position at the table. We highlighted how checking by an opponent will often demonstrate weakness. Thus, you can utilize the opportunity to insert a bluff at such key stages.

Let’s say, for example, you raise from the button and then you are called by the big blind. The flop comes out as ace of spades, king of hearts and 6 of diamonds. At this point, your opponent checks. Should you place a bet at this point and your opponent does not have an ace or a king (or maybe a six), you will be quite likely to earn a fold. Therefore, your actual hand strength is somewhat irrelevant by this point.

You could hold any kind of hand at that point in the game. It doesn’t really matter, because you utilized the table positions to turn the hand in your favor, not the cards themselves. A good bluffer can always take advantage of their position at the poker table.

Calculating Pot Odds

This point is best described with an example. Let’s say that you are in a four-way hand, and you hold the king of spades and the 10 of spades. The flop comes out at the queen of hearts, jack of hearts and five of spades. Your position at the table means you are second to act.

In the middle of the table is 1,500. The first player to act leads with a bet of 500. You have an open-ended straight draw with your hand, so you’d like to call and see the turn at this point.

If you had been last to act in this circumstance, you would know for certain what the immediate pot odds were. You’re trying to win 2,000 and only need to call 500, meaning that the pot odds stand at 4:1 in this situation. Of course, because our example dictates that you are second to act, you cannot make such a calculation.

You have no knowledge on what the other two players in the hand will do. Maybe they will also call, making the pot odds much better. Maybe one of them will opt for a raise, forcing you to add even more into the pot yourself to stick around. Of course, that could make the pot odds a lot worse.

Yet if you were acting from the final position in poker, you would have more insight into what your pot odds are going forward.

Put Yourself in an Adequate Position

We hope this guide to positions in poker explained has proven to be informative for you. Through it, you will always know where you are seated at the poker table and how best to tackle your gameplay. Consider the pros and cons of each one and set about your decision-making as a result. We wish you an enjoyable and enhanced poker session.


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