If you’re a Texas Hold ’em novice, you might have found more experienced players discussing how their position affects their gameplay a bit perplexing; after all, what does your seating have to do with your strategy? Well, as you’ll see in the following sections, the answer to this question is a bit more complex than what you might’ve initially thought. So, what are the names of the different poker positions, and what do they mean?
The names of poker positions in a 6max game are Middle Position (or Lojcak), Hijack, Cutoff, Button, Small Blind, and Big Blind. A full ring game features three extra positions: Under the Gun (UTG), UTG+1, and UTG+2. Each position is determined by the location of the button and the blinds.
If you’re an amateur, this might seem like a lot of information to take on; however, there’s no need to worry. In the following sections, I’ll be delving into each of these positions, what they mean, and how they can affect your gameplay. Let’s get started!
The Importance of Poker Positions
Before exploring the different poker positions in more detail, I want to take a minute to explain why they’re important in the first place.
If you’re looking to perfect your skill and maximize your odds of winning, understanding that each position comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages is the first step to success.
Let me give you an example. The player who acts first (located right next to the button) is usually considered to be “out of position,” while the player who acts last is considered “in position.” As expected, being in position offers an advantage, as you’ll be able to gather information from other players before making a move. Moreover, you’ll be able to directly affect the size of the pot.
As you can see, your positioning can greatly affect your strategy and, therefore, your chances of success. Any player that has a position over another player (meaning they’re seated on the left of their opponent) has a slight advantage, as they’ll be able to make a move after gauging your strategy and reaction.
I know what you’re thinking: isn’t this unfair? Luckily, the rules of the game take into account the issue of this unfair advantage. Positions (or, more accurately, the benefits and drawbacks that they offer) are the reason why the deal constantly moves from one player to the next throughout the game.
That way, everyone has the chance to enjoy the perks of more coveted positions, and no one is treated unfairly.
Table Position vs. Hand Position
Before moving on to the following sections, I also want to clarify that there are actually two types of positions in poker. You have the table position, which refers to where you’re seated in relation to the button (these are the positions that we’re discussing in this article), which remains the same throughout an entire hand and changes with every new game.
On the other hand, you have your hand position. This type of position is determined relative to the position of your opponents. Depending on where you’re seated, you can either be in or out of position.
As I briefly mentioned before, being in position means you’ll be last to act, while being out of position means you’ll be first. The former is always preferred. Players who are in position are able to tailor their strategy to that of their opponent, have control over pot size, and are better able to bluff successfully.
Poker Positions Names and Meanings
Now that you know a bit more about poker positions, their importance within the game, and how they can be categorized, it’s time to delve into what you came here for: their names and meanings.
One last thing I want to reiterate before we do that, though, is the difference between a 6max and a full range game. This is because depending on what version of Texas Hold ’em you’re playing, there might be some slight differences in the positions you’ll be able to hold.
The good news is that the difference between these two versions is quite straightforward, as it only pertains to the number of players allowed to sit at the poker table.
While in a 6max game, as the name suggests, there’s a maximum limit of 6 players that can play each given hand, in a full range game, there can be anywhere from seven to ten players competing against each other.
As a result, you’ll naturally be able to hold a wider array of positions in a full range poker match or tournament, although the six base positions you can play in in a 6max game remain unchanged.
The positions in a 6max game include:
- Middle position (Lojack)
- Big blind
- Small blind
A full ring game usually features three extra positions, which are:
- Under the Gun (UTG)
In the following sections, you’ll be able to learn more about each of these positions, what they represent, how they can affect your playing strategy and more. So, if you’re interested in optimizing your playing approach by taking advantage of the position you’re in, make sure to keep on reading.
In Heads Up, where just 2 players play against each other, the names can be confusing at times. That is why explain in detail in the article: The Blinds and Button Explained in Heads Up Poker.
Middle Position (Lojack)
The first position we’ll be discussing is the Middle Position or the Lojack (MP or LJ). The player holding this position is located directly to the right of the Hijack, which you’ll learn more about in the following section.
Please be aware that nowadays many will refer to the first middle position (Lojack) as an early position in 6max poker, which will be followed by Hijack, Cutoff, and Button, and on top of that you have Small Blind and Big blind. Let the naming not confuse you too much.
Keep in mind that, depending on the type of game you’re playing (which, in itself, is dependent on the number of players partaking in it), the middle position can take on a wide array of names. For example, players that usually hold what is considered a “Middle Position” in a 6max game are simply called Lojacks.
However, as the number of players increases, the positions added will be named Under the Gun, UTG+1, and UTG+2. However, we’ll be talking about these in more detail below.
What the term “Middle Position” really relays is the fact that you’re located roughly in the middle of the table (in relation to the button), meaning you’re not first to act, but you’re not last either.
The Lojack is usually located three seats to the right of the button, two seats to the right of Small Blind, and one seat to the right of Big Blind.
By this point, the premise of the position should be clearer. However, what does this all mean for your playing strategy? After all, knowing how to tailor your gameplay is why you’re looking to learn more about positions in the first place.
Finding the right strategy as a Lojack can be a bit tricky. Some players describe a Middle Position as a no man’s land, as even though you’ll be at much better odds than your opponents in the early positions, those that get to take action afterward will still have a position on you.
Therefore, if you find yourself in a Middle Position, it’s always best to follow a conservative strategy. Never get too speculative with your bets as a Lojack, as that’s a risk much better taken when in a later position.
Even though a restrained approach usually works best when in a Middle Position, it’s still important to remember that you do have some hand combo options, especially compared to your Early Position opponents.
When playing Lojack, you’ll be making your move after several of your competitors, meaning you’ll be able to take better-calculated risks. As you’ll see in the following sections, most players starting out in Early Positions will inevitably fold. This is because they simply don’t have enough information to make any well-thought-out bets.
The only case when Early Position players do not fold is when they have a remarkably strong hand. Knowing this, you’ll be much better able to take calculated action. If they do fold, your odds increase, as the lowered number of players means there’ll be a lower chance of you being forced to play out of position and a lower chance of having to compete against a strong hand.
On the other hand, if they don’t fold, you now know that they have a strong hand and can adjust your strategy accordingly.
“Hijack” is a term that usually refers to a late position located right to the left of the Cutoff. However, in some 6max games where there’s a limited number of players partaking in the game, Hijack can also be considered a middle position.
The position got its name from the fact that Cutoff and Button steals are extremely common among poker players. Those holding this seat regularly “hijack” blinds off of the Cutoff and the Button, which led to them receiving their infamous name.
As discussed many times above, late positions are highly coveted by Texas Hold ’em players. These allow you to be significantly more speculative with your bets, leading to bigger winnings.
Therefore, Hijack usually allows for a more flexible strategy compared to Lojack. However, depending on the number of players partaking in your hand, you might want to adjust your gameplay accordingly.
The Cutoff is one of the most coveted seats in a poker game. This seat is located right next to the Button, meaning it’s the second-to-last position to make a move. In short, you’ll be able to observe almost all other players closely before having to take action. This allows you to become much more adventurous in your strategy, as you’ll be able to afford to take more risks.
The position gained its name due to the fact that the player that’s located here has historically been responsible for cutting the cards before the dealer starts passing them around.
If you find yourself in the Cutoff position, don’t hesitate to take calculated risks, as you’ll have all the tools you’ll need to do so at your disposal.
The only person who has a position over you is the dealer. However, by raising aggressively from this position, you might be able to make your upcoming opponent fold. This move is widely known as “buying the button,” and leveraging it successfully will drastically improve your odds of winning (as you’ll have a position over every player left in the game).
The Button (or the dealer) is the most coveted position in Texas Hold ’em. The player holding this position will usually be the one holding the deck. However, if you’re playing in a card room, you’ll be given a plastic disc with “Dealer” written on it instead.
The Button is the quintessential late position, as it’s the last seat that has to make a move. This means that you’ll have a position over every other player in the game, which allows you to craft and tailor your strategy in a way that maximizes your odds of winning.
The leeway you get from being in this position allows you to play adventurously, and if you’re looking to make some profitable (and, of course, risky) bets, this is your perfect opportunity.
Moving on to the opposite extreme, the Small Blind (SB) is the least advantageous position in poker. The Small Blind is located right to the left of the Button.
The name speaks for itself. Players seated in this position are basically playing blind, as they’ll usually be the first to make a move (the only exception to this rule occurs during the opening round when the Small Blind acts second to last), not having the chance to strategize or think over their gameplay depending on the hands of their opponents.
If that wasn’t bad enough, you actually have to pay a default fee every time you play in this position just for the privilege of taking this seat. Combine that with the fact that you’ll (almost) always be acting out of position, and you’ll get what most poker players consider the worst position in the house.
Big Blind (or BB) is the name of the position located directly to the left of the Small Blind. This is yet another highly disadvantageous position that many players hope to avoid as much as possible. Even though you’ll at least have a position over one opponent when playing from this seat, your odds of winning are still pretty slim.
When playing Small or Big Blind, it’s usually unnecessary to craft a winning strategy, as even a conservative approach can result in significant losses. Therefore, if you find yourself playing in one of these positions, your goal should simply be to lose as little money as possible.
However, this can be tricky when playing Big Blind, as you’ll have to add a whole big blind into the pot before you even get the chance to see the hand you’ve got. Therefore, unless you’ve got some remarkable cards on your hands, the best way to survive playing in this position is to fold and wait for the next round to start. That way, you’ll at least minimize your losses.
Having said that, there are a few rare instances where holding this position might pay off. For example, if the Small Blind calls a raise, you’ll have the opportunity to reraise them, leaving them in a difficult position. However, this is a risk that should be well-calculated.
Under the Gun (UTG)
Now that we’ve gone over some of the most common positions in a 6max game, it’s time to delve into a few extra positions you might encounter when playing full range Texas Hold ’em.
As mentioned above, the difference between a 6max and a full range game lies in the number of players partaking in each hand. When switching from the former to the latter, the increased number of players requires a few extra seats to be added to the table, seats that all come with their own specifications and characteristics, just like the positions discussed thus far.
Generally speaking, the new seats are added to the beginning of the table (as always, in relation to the button). Therefore, the Under the Gun positions we’ll be discussing in this and the following sections can all be considered early positions (maybe aside from UTG+2, depending on the number of players partaking, but I’ll discuss this in more detail later on).
Under the Gun is located directly to the left of the Big Blind, and as a result, this seat is far from advantageous. The name of the position derives from the fact that when playing from this seat, you’ll be under immense pressure. After all, you’ll be the first to act before the flop (Small and Big Blind both act last preflop).
Following a very, very conservative approach is the only way to avoid significant losses when playing Under the Gun. In fact, when in this seat, it’s generally best to sit out the hand altogether. However, if you have an extremely strong hand, you can consider entering the pot.
As the name suggests, UTG+1 is the seat located right to the left of Under the Gun. Generally speaking, this UTG+1 is also considered an early position, which means that playing from this seat will inevitably limit your gameplay.
Again, the term “Under the Gun” that’s in the name of this position refers to the pressure that the player holding the position will be in. Imagine having to make the opening move in a freshly dealt hand–that’s a lot for any poker player to navigate, especially if you’re an amateur.
Therefore, if you find yourself in this position, it’s best to tread lightly and take on a conservative approach. Unless you’re confident in your cards, it’s still best to sit the hand out, just like your Under the Gun opponent.
Think about it. When playing full ring Texas Hold ’em, you’re playing against at least seven or eight opponents, meaning that most of the time, you’ll be playing out of position. Therefore, only stick to the game if your hand is well worth the risk.
Having said that, you can be slightly more daring in your approach than your Under the Gun opponent, as you’ll have a position over them.
As long as you’ve read through the previous sections, this is a pretty straightforward position to understand. UTG+2, as the name suggests, refers to the position held by the player who acts immediately after UTG+1.
Even though (depending on the number of players) UTG+2 isn’t usually considered an early position, the player holding this seat is still advised to play a pretty limited range of hands. Your strategy should resemble that of the UTG+1 player, but you can afford to be a bit more adventurous.
However, these tips presume that you’re playing a full range game. In 6max Texas Hold ’em, the strategy you should follow will ultimately depend on your distance from the button. Here’s where your trained eye and intuition should come into play. The later you have to make your move, the more flexible and liberal you can be when it comes to your strategy.
For example, as mentioned, when there are nine or ten players in the table, the strategies for UTG+1 and UTG+2 will be fairly similar. Considering that both seats are considered early to middle positions, you’ll want to play conservatively and only enter the pot when you have a strong enough hand.
However, when there are only five or six players in the game, UTG+2 is always considered a late position, meaning you’ll be able to bet much more adventurously. Therefore, don’t think of the tips and strategies linked to these positions as strict rules.
Instead, view them as general guidelines that can help you tailor your strategy depending on the number of opponents you’re facing on each given hand.
When it comes to poker, positions play an essential role in your gameplay, strategy, and overall odds. Luckily, by reading through this comprehensive guide, you’ll be able to quickly familiarize yourself with some of the most common positions you’ll find yourself holding in a game.
This will allow you to think on your feet and tailor your strategy depending on the position you’re holding to optimize your odds. Therefore, if you’re looking to perfect your poker playing skills, studying different positions and what they entail is the best way to start.