Playing Out of Position

Playing out of position is one of the most difficult things
to do in poker. Sure, you can still make big hands, but they are
going to be much more challenging to play than when you are in
position. Playing in position is one skill set that was largely
brought to light in the more recent years of poker. Though older
players surely knew that position was valuable, only recently
have many realized that even weak hands can be quite profitable
if they are played in position. You can do so many things in
position that you just can’t do when you are first to act.

With all of this being said, however, playing out of position isn’t
something that you should totally abandon. There’s plenty of
value in it if you know what you are doing. It’s not going to
be the most comfortable way to play poker, but this doesn’t mean
that it can’t be profitable.

Out of position play isn’t something that you can really
choose. While you do have the ability to fold any hand that you
would like, it isn’t going to be logical to muck pocket aces
simply because you are under the gun. You’ll need to adapt to
the circumstances and find a way to play the hand to the best of
your ability. This could mean varying your raise sizes, playing
differently post-flop, or one of many other things. The simple
point is that playing out of position isn’t something that can
or should be avoided.

Of course, if you have a weak hand, your
position could decide whether it’s worth playing, but this
isn’t to say that all strong hands are completely devalued by
position. Poker is all about making the best out of the
situation that is put in front of you, and this is exactly what
it comes down to when playing out of position.

Weak Hands Out of Position

Weak hands tend to be the most straightforward in terms of
execution whether you are sitting in early, middle, or late
position. While there’s going to be some value in mixing it up
and making plays in late position from time to time with weak
hands, it just isn’t going to make sense when you are out of
position. The reason that you can make steal and re-steal
attempts from late position is found in your post-flop
advantage. You are playing the player while almost ignoring the
hand itself. In early position you aren’t going to have this
luxury. Don’t mess around with weak hands when you are out of
position, it’s really that simple.

Mediocre Hands Out of Position

Mediocre hands can be a bit tricky to play no matter where
you are seated, and early position is only going to complicate
things even further. The best move in this spot is to analyze
what’s going on. Are you at a table where
suited connector type hands have value post-flop? Can you
afford to limp and call a raise? These are the types of things
that you’ll need to consider with middle of the road hands
when playing out of position.

For the most part, raises are going to be out of the question
with mediocre hands in this spot. If you have a suited connector
type hand and want to get involved, the most optimal line will
usually be to limp in and hope to either play a limped pot or to
call a raise and see a flop. By raising in early position with a
moderately strong hand, you are going to be hurting yourself no
matter what.

Unless you can get few callers and fire a
continuation bet with success, a raise is going to be punished
by callers who are in position or by re-raisers who put the
pressure back on you. The most basic approach in this situation
is to look for ways to minimize your risk wherever possible. You
don’t want to be unnecessarily inflating pots when you don’t
have a big hand and you aren’t in great position for post-flop

Strong Hands Out of Position

A strong hand is a strong hand no matter how you look at it.
The types of hands that would fall into this category include
big pocket pairs, AQ/AK and so on and so forth. You shouldn’t be
mucking these hands for just about any reason, whether you are
last to act or first to act. With all of that said, it’s safe
to say that your strategy is going to be slightly altered. You
are going to be coming in for a raise, but a raise in early
position shouldn’t be the same as it would be in late position.

Think about what happens when you either open or re-raise in
late position with one of these hands. You’ll already see who
you are isolating, you have position, and you are essentially in
full control of the hand. To compensate for the lack of all of
this when out of position, your easiest move will be to increase
your bet sizes. Larger raises will thin out the field. You don’t
want everyone to fold, but you don’t want five callers either.

The real issues with these hands are going to develop after
the flop is dealt. It’s not that hard to make a larger raise in
an attempt to weed out the field, but it will be difficult to
remain deceptive if you are firing out massive bets on every
street. You’ll need to create new ways to be tricky in your
approach while also ensuring that you are getting value out of
your big hands. This is going to be subject to each hand that
you are playing and will vary from spot to spot, but it’s
something to keep in mind. You always want to be confusing your
opponents as much as possible, but be sure that you aren’t
digging yourself into a hole for the other players to take
advantage of.