Playing In Late Poker Position

The more players there are in the hand, the more possible variations there are in the way the hand will be played. Two players who have the four options of folding, calling, raising, and reraising could play a betting round one of sixteen different ways (4×4=16). Eight players who have those same options could theoretically play that same betting round one of 65,536 different ways! Of course, not every option is as equally likely as all of the other options. For example, I don’t think you’ll ever see everyone reraise and then fold!

In any event, if there are a lot of players in the pot to see the flop and you’re in late position, your best strategy is to play defensively if you don’t have a premium hand. You can do this in a few ways:1. Not raising with two big unsuited cards. The only big hand you will normally make with these two cards is a straight, which is unlikely given that you haven’t yet seen the flop. Besides, it’s already too likely that you’re beat before the flop. The most common outcome is that you’ll pair one of your hole cards and your kicker will be useless.2. Raising only for just the right reasons, andfolding after the flop if you miss. If your cards are suited and connected, then you have two ways to win. If you feel that the game conditions are to your liking, you can consider raising from late position to get value from your hand. You have to be sensible about it, however. You have to be willing and able to make a superior, professional-quality play when you see the flop: throw the hand away on the flop if you miss or only get a small piece of it. For example, if you have 6#5± and the flop is A*JV7*, do not try to make the straight.

Being able to raise for the right reason before the flop and then throw the hand away on the flop is one of the characteristics of a great player. Do not become committed to defending the hand just because you raised before the flop, as you will see bad players do.

Remember, once money goes into the pot, it’s as if that money came from nowhere. It’s just there. It did not come from you. How much money you personally have put into playing a hand is not a factor to consider when making any subsequent decision regarding that hand.

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You can also raise with small pocket pairs before the flop in late position, if you can also throw these hands away on the flop if you miss. If there are eight other players in the hand, you will be getting 15-1 odds on your preflop raise. You can afford to miss quite a few times on the flop and still make a big profit in the long run if you play these hands the right way.3. Not playing all hands just because you’re in late position. Too many players think it’s okay to play every hand from a late position. There are a lot of great advantages to playing in late position, but the mere fact that you’re in late position cannot turn purely garbage hands into premium hands. Do not play hands like K*6V, 7*2*, 9444, Q*5*, J43* or 10*4*, just because you’re in late position and you’re getting big pot odds.

Here’s a little secret: you can never get big enough pot odds to play garbage hands like these unless you’re in the big blind and no one has raised. To slightly paraphrase that old saying: “You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken crap.”

Jolice Armstrong