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Position in poker.

When you’re reading poker articles on the internet, you can’t help coming across phrases like: “when you have position on him”, “raise from late position”, “do not play small pairs from early position” and so on.

Obviously, this “position” thing is very important in Holdem, and certainly, it can mean advantage or disadvantage for a player.

At a poker table, position is always relative to the Blinds and thus the dealer button, or to the person who begins the betting round. The essence of having position on a certain player boils down to acting after him rather than before him. If you act after someone, you’ll do it considering what he’s just done in front of you. This way, your decisions will be more relevant and obviously, you’ll be able to influence the game’s outcome, through your actions, more than your opponent.

As long as you act after someone, you are in advantage. When you’re forced to act before a certain player, you’re at a disadvantage when going up against him.

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In reality, all this ain’t so black-and-white, however. Whether you want to act after a person or before him, depends on what kind of player he/she is, and on the strategy you’re about to deploy against him/her.

Omaha Hi presents players with about the same types of challenges Texas Holdem does. After all, it’s the same game with a few more pocket cards.

Stud, on the other hand, is a different matter altogether. In 7 Card Stud, position changes all the time, after 4th street. The guy who begins the 4th round of betting is the one with the best board hand, and there’s always a possibility that someone outdraws him for 5th street. This way, you don’t really know who you have position on. One thing is certain however, generally speaking, you’ll always have an advantage on the person sitting on your immediate right.

Now for the tough bit: Omaha Hi-Lo. Omaha Hi-Lo and generally poker variants which share the pot between two winners (the nut high and the nut low) make it extremely difficult to make heads and tails of position. Being last to act, does not necessarily mean you’ll have an advantage over all other players all the time, despite the fact that it will give you a certain edge most of the time. If you want to bluff against a set of good Omaha Hi-Lo players however, late position is the last place you want to be in. For bluffing it would be ideal to be somewhere in the middle.

That same position becomes very difficult if you’re in a different situation. Let’s suppose you hold the high nut, and another player, well in front of you, holds the nut low. In this case, the decision-making process becomes extremely intricate. Most people can’t handle the complexities of playing out of this position, even though the concept behind it is relatively simple. In pot-sharing games, you need to have those people contribute to the pot as much as possible, who won’t end up earning a share in it, in the end. In this respect, if the guy who has the nut low in front of you, raises, you have to call. There’s no use in re-raising him, unless there happens to be a third player coming up behind you who thinks he has the nut low. In that case, raising is the right thing to do as that’ll get one more bet into the pot from a party who is not involved in the final sharing.

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Generally speaking, in Omaha, it is best to be the one who acts first with the low nut, and to act last with the high one. Obviously, you don’t want to kill the action by acting first on the high nut, and sending everyone scrambling.

With that said, it is quite obvious that position in Omaha is far more complicated than in Holdem. Most Omaha players come from Texas Holdem, so they’ll be completely unprepared for what’s awaiting them, position-wise. If you know how you have to treat position in Omaha Hi-Lo, it’ll give you a further edge and make it easier for you to beat the game.

- by Jonathan Paig

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