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Accurate Read: Poker Play against Early Position

What chances do we have with playing Holdem from an early position? The popular answer would be a slim poker play. But we still can do something about it.

Here's an example of an early position poker play. Suppose we're playing at a Holdem table with 8 players. We have an A10 starting hand, decide to limp into the pot and call the big blind which has a 50. Because we're under the gun we wait for our turn again. While waiting the button player raises with 300 total. It isn't clear if the raise was done for poker play positioning or due to a really strong hand. With the pot being enlarged with all the wagering, plus our own 50, we think of calling with our hand.

Our call was followed by another one which sends the blinds folding. Then the result on the flop shows unsuited A36. We have a good poker play because we've hit a top pair AA. But because we're in early position, the good poker play may not last. The button player may mess everything up anytime this player decides to raise us---and there's no way we can hand-read this player - or any other for that matter. If the button player raises we have no other poker play option but to call---having hit a high pair during the time the pot was raised.

We decide to try a feeler wager, to weigh where our poker play really stands at this point. Then the button player calls while another player folds. Is the button player just slow playing a monster hand, buying time, or just bluffing? The play reaches the turn which flops an 8. We check and button player bets a thousand. We call. On the river we check and button player finally goes all-in---with 3,000 additional. There's some 1,500 now to win at more than 2 to 1 on our money. So we call. But the button player shows an AK.

There goes our money, down the drain. Why? The hand A10? Nope. The poker play? Kind of. It was positioning, to be exact. The hand A10 could have still made it, but the positioning of being an early player provided the killer blow against the overall poker play.

Hand-reading the button player could have saved our bet, but there was no way to make this happen while being first to act each round. This is how early position can mess up a poker play.