Don’t over value position in the short term

empty poker table

I see a lot of statements regarding the value of position and I find much it to be misleading to be quite frank. Position is important… in fact it is vital to have it in a poker game and not much can really change that. However, and this is important… the advantage to having position is only seen over the long term and not necessarily in the short term. Also the weaker the player then the more he will fail to exploit a positional advantage and the stronger the opponent the more he will reduce a positional disadvantage.

So having position doesn’t just afford a player a definite and calculable finite edge in the short term. All we know is that we increase our EV in a hand of poker by having position rather than our opponent having it. However if we use a blackjack comparison for a minute then what I am trying to say stands out even more. Short of a player being able to card count in blackjack then the house edge will guarantee over the long term that the dealer wins…….simple!

So we can say that the dealer edge is “crushing” and a big advantage but this only applies under one condition and that is if the player that doesn’t have position stays around long enough. The dealer always acts last n blackjack and despite playing to a simple set of rules…..has an edge over the player. However this edge cannot be present all the time otherwise card counting wouldn’t be possible.

It is debatable if position offers a greater advantage in poker than it does in blackjack……I believe that it does for one simple reason. This is because the stakes can be very high later on in the hand compared to what it was at the start. In blackjack then if you place a $1 wager then you will never end up wagering $100 on the same hand later down the line. Even if you double then the risk only becomes $2. Even if you split and then double both hands then the risk is still only $4.

Only in exceptional circumstances where you split a total and then re-split both totals and also doubled would your initial wager stretch to as much as $10. In poker though you could go from not having placed anything to losing your entire $100 in a $0.50-$1.00 at no limit hold’em! Whether you win or lose largely depends on position most of the time. So it is clear that position is even more important in poker than in blackjack.

The bottom line in all of this is that we should never abuse our position simply because we have it. Position offers us long term advantages should the same positions be repeated tens of thousands of times. Skill plays a big role as well in deciding how big our advantage is.

White is by no means certain to beat black in a chess game anymore than a tennis player is not certain to win a game simply because they are on serve…….just that it is more likely to happen. When something is more likely to happen or it offers us advantages then we can continue to pursue it but not at the expense of our overall strategy.