Value of Position in Early Levels

Position in the early stages of tournament play is going to
matter. Your position is going to be ever changing and it will
be the primary factor in what types of hands you’ll be able to
reasonably play. For example, you aren’t going to be limping in
pots under the gun with random suited connectors. It’s too
early and too risky to be putting money on the line in these
sort of spots. However, you may have a chance to play in this
same hand if you were in late position with a number of other
players involved. Each situation is going to be different.

The important thing about early stage play in tournaments is
that it’s not likely to completely cripple your chances of
success. When you are in the middle or late levels, each
decision is going to be amplified. Because of this, you’ll be
able to get away with more mistakes than you would otherwise be
privy to. The easiest way to look at position when a tournament
first starts is that, while it matters, it isn’t likely to make
or break your chances of a deep run. In the end, it’s just
another one of virtually limitless elements that you should be
taking into consideration.

Early Position

Early position is almost always going to be the least profitable
position at the table. You are going to have minimal control
in hands and you’ll generally get stuck in a lot of tough
spots. With that being said, it doesn’t mean that there won’t be
plenty of times where playing a hand is still logical. One of
the first things that you should do, especially when in early
position, is to consider how you’ll react to a raise. If you
are only going to be mucking to any moderate size raise, there’s little point in limping into a pot.

The reason for this is that limped pots are usually going to end up being small unless
a cooler vs. cooler situation arises. You might think that they
are better than raised pots when you have already limped, but
they really aren’t. Limping in early position and calling a
small raise will put you in much better shape to potentially win
a large pot than if it simply limps the whole way around.

For tournament play, raising in early position should be
reduced when an event has just begun. You don’t want to be
unnecessarily putting chips at risk because the post-flop
dynamics won’t cater to this type of strategy. Continuation bets
have reduced value when they are being used to fight for
essentially meaningless pots. It’s much better to see a lot of
pots and to let your opponents bleed away their chips than it is
to aggressively go after them. Of course, this strategy will be
tossed out the window as play progresses.

Middle Position

Middle position will allow for more raises with generally the
same type of hand selection that you had in early position. You are still
not seated where it’s viable to be opening a lot of pots
because re-raises from late position players will make
everything more difficult than it needs to be. Instead, the best
plan is to simply pick your spots. What this means is that you
can play in more or less pots depending upon the situation that
you are in.

If a loose player to your right is continually
playing, this would be an example of a time where it makes sense
to start getting involved. If your table has been very tight,
limping into pots with the hope of flopping hard and getting
paid off is all but useless. Middle position is the area of the
table where you can go one way or the other without much issue.

The one thing about middle position is that it’s going to
put you in some very unique spots. In late position, you’ll be
able to control the play at hand without much challenge. You can
bet, raise, and call hands without putting yourself at risk. In
middle position, however, calling a raise means risking a
re-raise. Limping in means the pot is likely to already be dead,
and so on and so forth. You are basically being pitted in the
worst part of the table. Sure, early position is worse, but at
least your decisions are more clear-cut. Middle position is
going to force you to make some tougher decisions.

Late Position

Late position is where things should be getting easier. You’ll have the advantage of controlling the play as much as
possible. One of the first moves that players think about in
late position is stealing the blinds. While this is a viable
play in the later stages of tournaments, it’s not going to make
much sense at this point in the game. You are going to be
chasing after blinds that really don’t matter now and are
certainly not going to matter later on. Use your position to set
yourself up for big post flop action, not small and
inconsequential pre-flop pots.

Late position is best taken advantage of by players who know
when the price is right. Even if you have a pretty weak hand,
calling a raise when in late position could be very reasonable.
You’ll have the benefit of acting last, you know who is
involved, and backing out of the hand won’t be difficult to do.

Think about a hand like 79 suited in early or middle position
vs. in late position. You don’t want to be raising and then 3
bet in EP or MP with a suited connector, but calling a raise in
late position is great. You will have the price to play set in stone, you know who you are up against, and you’ll act
last after the flop. Everything is just going to be easier when
you are in late position. In the early stages of tournaments,
use late position to execute as effectively as possible during
post-flop play. Later on in the event you can use this position
for steals and re-steals at a time when they really matter.