Before delving into the various stages of MTTs, let’s examine the enormously important value of position.
In no-limit hold ’em, the value of position can’t be stressed too strongly. When you have the advantage of acting last on the flop, turn, and river, you have critical information at your disposal to use in decision-making. Acting last allows you to pick up a lot of pots when both you and your opponents have missed the flop.
The best players in the game play a wide range of hands when on or near the button. They’re betting their position rather than their cards. If they happen to hit the flop—great! If they miss, though, they’ll look for opportunities to win the pot by using their position, combined with the power of their chips. often, a well-timed bet or raise, based on information gleaned from acting last, is what makes this type of effective manipulation possible.
Even inexperienced players should play a wider range of hands on or near the button than they’d play from earlier positions. From the button, I recommend limping, even with Category 8 hands, if several opponents have already limped in. you can also call a small raise from mid-position or later, with hands as weak as Category 8. If your opponent checks on the flop, bet about 70% of the pot whether you’ve improved on the flop or not. If your opponent bets the flop and you’ve completely missed, fold.
If your opponent bets and you’ve caught a piece of the flop, whether to call, raise, or fold depends a lot on your hand and the texture of the flop. For example, if from the button you called a small raise
by a player in mid-field with 7h 6h, the flop comes 7d 4s 2c, and your opponent makes a half-pot-sized bet that’s often a continuation bet as he would with two overcards, consider raising. A raise in a spot such as this usually wins you the pot if he does, indeed, have two overcards to the flop. If he holds an overpair instead of overcards, he’ll generally re-raise you and you can now safely fold, knowing that you hold the inferior hand. As you can see, position gives you the flexibility and information needed to select the appropriate play to win the pot.
Against straightforward players, if you’re on the button, call a raise from any position, and after the flop it’s checked to you, you should bet regardless of the strength of your hand. I also recommend calling
a post-flop bet from a pre-flop raiser, if you have second pair, so long as the bet is half the pot or less.
Many players have now read Dan Harrington’s excellent poker book, Harrington on Hold ’em Volume 1, in which he recommends for players who’ve raised pre-flop to continue betting post-flop, even if they completely miss on the flop. He recommends betting about half the pot, whereas I’m suggesting you bet 70% of the pot until you get a better feel for the different situations that arise. These continuation bets, as Harrington refers to them, have now become so popular that the value of hands such as second pair should now be upgraded against a single opponent making a bet of around half the pot. If you call and he checks to you on the turn, bet about 70% of the pot; he’ll usually fold.
If he bets again on the turn, you’re faced with a tougher decision. If the bet is 2/3 of the pot or more, I’d fold, but if he makes an undersized bet (say 1/3 of the pot), I’d interpret that as weakness and would probably raise. Because he’s made such a small bet, I don’t have to raise much, relative to the size of the pot, to have the raise appear significant. For example, suppose your opponent bets half the pot
on the flop and you call, now bringing the pot up to 1,000. on the turn, he now bets 300. This tiny bet usually connotes either weakness or a monster. But it’s much more common to have a weak hand than to make a monster, so I presume, until proven otherwise, that he’s weak. With second pair and this betting sequence, I’d probably raise that 300 bet on the turn to 900, if I had second pair. If he’s weak, as I suspect, he’ll fold and I’ll pick up a nice pot. The minority of the time when he’s got a big hand, he’ll re-raise me and I’ll fold. But as I said, this will happen far less frequently. on balance, I’ll make money by raising players who show weakness.
Better still are those less-experienced easy-to-read players who bet when they hit the flop and check when they don’t. As Amarillo Slim says, “you bet, I fold. you check, I bet.” Against players who don’t know how to disguise the strength of their hands, such direct thinking works like a charm!
Buying the Button
Position is so important in no-limit hold ’em that sometimes it pays to buy the button. Let’s say you’re two seats to the right of the button, two players have already limped in before the action gets to you, and you have a hand such as Th 9h or 44. With these hands, you’d normally follow suit and limp along, but if you do, it’s likely that at least one of the two players with a positional advantage (the cut-off and button) will be tempted to call, taking away much of your positional advantage after the flop. In situations such as this, consider raising. you’re not raising based on the value of your hand, you’re raising primarily to “buy the button.” your raise will probably chase out the cut-off and button, making you last to act post-flop, effectively making you the button. Even though these types of hands should generally be played as cheaply as possible pre-flop, being last to act on every round from the flop onward justifies a raise to “buy the button.”
- Position is of great importance in NLHE tournaments
- Position gives you the flexibility and information to make the best play.
- Learn to recognize and defend against continuation bets.
- In some instances it pays to “buy the button” so that you’ll have the advantage of acting last
on each round of betting after the flop.