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Position: An Essential Strategy in Poker

A characteristic that distinguishes poker from other card or gambling games is that it relies heavily on strategy, and less on luck. Essential to this strategy is the mechanism of the game, from how the cards are dealt to the sequence of the game. One such essential poker strategy that relies on the mechanism is position.

Position refers to the strategic implications the order of seating and of playing in poker has. There are two positions in poker and each has its own strategic consequences.

First is the early position. These are allotted to the players who act first. Because they are acting first, then it is advantageous for these players to play aggressively, so as to intimidate other players to fold. Also, players in the early position often dictate the tempo of the game.

However, the early position also provides risks because proper assessment of the situation could not be done, since several other players would act after them, and may have hands that are not of their expectation. For example, if a player in the early position plays aggressively, then they would not have a chance to know whether succeeding players hold better hands; if they play passively (by checking or folding), then there is also a probability that the succeeding players hold weaker hands.

Also, the small blind and the big blind, which is part of the early position, is of course the least strategic position because one is forced to bet, even if one has undesirable hands.

Second is the late position. These are allotted to the players who act last. Because they are acting last, then they have the opportunity to assess the situation of the game, and therefore make the correct decisions. Also, if opponents in the early position fold, then players in the late position have a higher probability of winning, since the probability of having the best hand goes up.

However, the late position also provides risks, because if preceding players all act aggressively or at least do not fold, then one has a higher risk of being intimidated into folding, or playing less aggressively.

Knowing the strategic consequences of each position would help one build and use the proper strategy. Having a good grasp of the implications of position, one would know when to fold, when to raise, and when to use poker techniques such as slow playing and bluffing. Just remember: early position serves as an opening for intimidation, and the late position gives one an opportunity to assess the situation. This, along with other poker strategies, would help one win the pot.

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