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However, this point does bring out the fact that there are a few situations where it's advantageous to be first. In first or early position you get more check-raising opportunities. Furthermore, with a lock in first position you might win three bets by betting and reraising. Finally, you sometimes want to drive players out to make your hand stand up; only raising in early position, before opponents have had the opportunity to call the first bet, can succeed in doing this. Nevertheless, these first and early position advantages are minimal in comparison to the many advantages of being last.


There are times when your positional advantage allows you to win a pot you would not otherwise have won. Most of the time, though, the best hand wins, whether it happens to be first or last. So what we really mean by positional advantage is the extra bets that may be saved or gained by your being in late position a check after your opponent checks, a raise after your opponent bets, and so on. The importance of these extra bets cannot be overemphasized. Never forget that in poker we are trying to win money, not pots. Every decent player wins a fair share of pots, but it is the extra bets you can get into the pots you win and those you can save from the pots you lose that increase your hourly rate and the money won in the long run.

There is little you can do to secure last position from one deal to the next, but when you have it, you should make the most of it. In seven-card stud, for example, you should anticipate the position you will be in from one round to the next. If an ace or an open pair is to your immediate left, that figures to make you last in the next round. You may play your hand a little differently, a little more aggressively, a little more loosely, than you would if you were expecting to be first.

In contrast, when the bettor is to your immediate right, forcing you to act ahead of everyone else, you must tighten up considerably. It is extremely important that you fold almost all marginal hands in this position. The possibility of a raise behind you plus the chance of a reraise from the original bettor is devastating. Furthermore, you can frequently count on being in the same unpleasant position not accidentally called under the gun - for the remainder of the hand. If you constantly call bets with marginal hands in this position, you will have to fold so many of them either later in the same round when the bet is raised or on the next round when the bet is repeated - that you will lose an enormous amount relative to the occasional pots you might win by staying in.

Thus, in five-card draw, if a player to your immediate right in early position opens, you should throw away two aces in most cases. In the same position in lowball, you'd usually have to throw away a one-card draw to a 7,6 and possibly a 7,5, even though these are hands you'd gladly play if you were sure there would be no raises behind you. In seven-card stud if the player to your right raises the opener on third street, you should fold most middle-sized pairs when there are several people behind you who might reraise.

With any of these hands you'd almost certainly call in last position, a fact that underlines another of that position's advantages: You can play more hands. You no longer need to fear a raise from players who have not acted, and in most instances you will probably remain last on future betting rounds as well. Even in seven-card stud, when the bettor to your left happens not to be high on board and thus first to act, the other players will usually check around to that bettor on the following round.

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