Pre Flop Strategies by Position – Middle Position

There you are smack dab in the middle of the table in spot number 4, 5 or 6 waiting for the Early Position limpers to call so you can take the pot up another notch and watch them fold away their QJ suited while you hold something ugly like 8 7 off suit (we definitely wouldn’t suggest this move out of middle position but it made for a good opening.) You’ve seen what a few players have done, now it’s your turn to act. What cards should you play, you ask? Well, anything from the Early Position playbook as well as a good number of hands you would have quickly mucked had you been in Early Position. Your playable hands now include pocket pairs from AA-66, Ax suited (except A7 and A6 because they have weaker straight draws and make lower pairs), and a couple others that you can check out at our play list chart.

You are still at a disadvantage in the hand but you aren’t as bad off as the players in Early Position. Come flop time you will be somewhere around the 6th to 8th person to act, leaving you in great, but not the best position to act. The majority of hands on the play list now consist of drawing hands so you are more of an implied winner than a real winner. Depending on which hand you are currently holding will determine whether or not you should raise.
Raise with AK-AT suited or off suit, KQ suited or off suit, Pocket Pairs down to JJ, and if you really want to QJ suited. Depending on which of these hands you hold you’ll want to raise varying amounts with the pocket pairs, AK, AQ, and KQ being the larger raises. As for the rest of your drawing hands and middle pairs it’s probably best to call and hope no one raises (or at least doesn’t raise too much to take away your pot odds.) Kickers will definitely come into play when the king flops and you start betting wildly with KT off suit against an opponent holding KJ off suit. Raising pre flop won’t rid you of players holding the KJ either. Your best-case scenario with the KT is to either catch a straight draw or catch two pair. Flopping two pair could spell disaster though as well if someone is on a straight draw or worse, caught the straight on the flop.

Raising from Middle Position is also dependant on how other players view you at the table. A loose aggressive player is much more likely to be called pre flop than a tight player. The great thing about being in Middle Position, however, is that a lot of players know that Middle Position is where you are supposed to start playing those middle pairs so a small pre flop raise from Middle Position (3x the big blind) will tell everyone at the table you hold a middle pair and set you up for a bluff known as “Representing The Flop” come flop time. Representing The Flop means making a large raise on the flop when something along the lines of a 7, 8 or 9 shows up and you act like you’ve made trips. Don’t do this too often though because opponents are sure to catch on to your rouse and start catching you on your bluffs.

A good percentage of the hands you’d call with from Middle Position you’d never call a raise with. Basically every hand that is a drawing hand you should fold unless the pot odds or investment odds tell you to do otherwise. The trick to playing drawing hands successfully is being able to see cheap flops and folding them when you do not flop an 8 out straight draw or better. Don’t throw away unnecessary chips preflop hoping to get lucky and bust out your opponent. It might happen occasionally but in the long run you’re going to be down money and upset with the world. Also calling large raises with hands like Q T and K J will cost you more chips than it’ll win. You have a semi-strong kicker and your opponent doing the raising most likely has a better kicker with the high card as you.

Playing 1 card gapped straight cards aren’t as great as they sound either. Check out our straight odds to see for yourself. The problem with the 1-card gappers is they will typically flop more 4 card straight draws than 8 out straight draws. 4 card straight draws are typically costly and don’t reap the reward the player was seeking. You should (most likely) muck your 1-card gappers to any raiser, unless it’s an aggressive player. Even then, the play is most likely a fold because you should never call a raise with cards you wouldn’t raise with yourself.

We would suggest breaking the Middle Position playing list into 3 parts then playing 1, 2 or all 3 parts depending on where you are in Middle Position. If you are the 4th to act in the hand (1st person in Middle Position) play 99-88, A9-A8 suited, T9 suited, AJ and AT off suit, KJ, QJ, and JT off suit. If you are the 2nd person in Middle Position add 77, J9 suited, 98 suited, and KT off suit to the list. If you are the 3rd person in Middle Position play the entire list. The reason for this is because as each player acts your cards become stronger starting cards. Still stick to not raising with anything below AT, KJ, or QJ. Avoid calling large raises as well. Small raises are fine and are actually welcome as this will make your drawing hands more powerful when it comes to pot odds.

Do not rely too strongly on pot odds however. Just because you have the correct pot odds to make a call does not mean you should chase every straight and flush draw you have. Each event is independent from the previous event just like in Roulette. If the Roulette wheel is black 25 times in a row that doesn’t mean it has a better chance of being red the next time just as your straight and flush draws will not improve to straights and flushes based on the number of times you have missed them. The easiest way for a player to go broke in poker is by drawing to every straight, flush, and 3 of a kind when they hold a pocket pair. The odds against these events happening are there and should be seen as a warning to those who wish to chase their money away.

The other reason you should not constantly chase is because your opponents will label you as a ‘Fisherman.’ If they know you always fish after straight and flush draws they will alter their betting patterns to A) give you better pot odds to increase the amount of money in the pot when they hold a favorable hand or B) give you worse pot odds to pick up pots right off the bat. Your opponents may also make a bet favorable for you pot odds wise on the flop, then if nothing hits, raise an insane amount at you to destroy your pot odds and take your chips from you 1 turn card at a time. Of course you can use the exact same strategy against an opponent that you have determined to be a Fisherman.

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