Poker School

How to play 'late position' in poker

In this lesson we’ll get you up to speed on:

Position is as important in poker as oxygen is to breathing. It’s as simple as this – late position is where you want to be.

In late position everyone acts before you so you can pick up info on what kind of hand your opponents have got before you’ve even touched a chip.

Where is late position?

Late position is the button (or dealer), the player to act just before the button (known as the cut-off) and sometimes the previous one to that too. After the flop, late position could be any seat where you act last.

What to play?

In general, you can play any hands that have some playable value, like pocket pairs, any two high cards above 10, any two consecutive suited cards. Basically, it’s fine to play pretty much any two cards that have a relationship to each other.

Top late position tips:

Change with the times

You should adjust how you play depending on how the action started:

  • Fold most of the time when there are a lot of players in the pot and you have a hand like A-9 off-suit
  • When a tight player opens the pot with a raise, you need to become tighter and only go in to a pot when you’re making a play
  • If the pot is unopened you can think about going in with a wide range of hands

Pot limping

If you’re on the button and one or more players limp into the pot, you’ve got lots of possibilities.

  • It’s a great time to play small pocket pairs or suited connectors because they work well in a multi-way pot
  • You can even whip out a ‘pot sweetening’ raise because you’re in a very favourable situation
  • Another option is to punish the limpers and try and take the pot right away with a decent sized raise. Follow that with a largish bet on the flop to make it really look like you’ve got a good hand. Remember that this move will become obvious to observant opponents after a while
  • You could also limp on the button with any two cards. This works really well in games where the other players have plenty of chips. The idea here is that there’ll be a lot of pots after the flop that you can grab when the other players fail to make their hand.

Blind stealing

Swiping the blinds should be an important part of any poker player’s strategy.

Being in late position is the best place to pull off this chip heist because there are fewer players between you and the goal of taking the blinds without a struggle.

Warning: short and big stack danger

It’s risky trying to nab blinds off of short-stacked players because they’re looking to make bold plays. Players with big stacks can afford to come at you or see the flop, so avoid them too.

That best players to rob blinds off of are one’s with medium stacks.

Calling early position raisers

This can open up a lot of possibilities for later in the hand. So, if a player is weak and often gives up their hand after the flop, you can call when you have hands like 6-7 suited. That’s because you’ve got the combined possibility of your hand coming good – and them just giving up – in your favour.

Re-raising before the flop

If an aggressive player opens the pot from middle or late position when you’re on the button, you can re-raise with any two cards because it’s a great chance to take the pot away by acting the way someone with a really strong hand would.

Stay strong on the flop

Keep using your button position to dominate and put pressure on other players.

Flop floating

‘Floating on the flop’ is when you call on the flop – often knowing you have nothing – with the intention of taking the pot. You can only really work this tactic in late position when you’re playing against one other player for the pot.

This move is great for when other players are making continuation bets on the flop and then checking the turn because they’re nervous about their hand.

Watch out though – your ‘story’ needs to be convincing, so this technique works best when the turn gives your opponent a reason to be worried. For instance, if there are two flush cards on the flop, you call, then the third flush card comes on the turn and you jump into the action – other players will think their great starting hand doesn’t seem so hot.

Pot stealer

You should constantly be on the lookout for pots you can take away that no one else wants.

The players who act before you are handing you hints and information on a plate, just with the actions they chose to take. Hunt down weaknesses like checks and small bets, then attack with bets and raises.

As always, you need to consider what kind of players the people in the pot with you are. If they check raise a lot, you should bluff less.

You don’t have to be aggressive on every hand you play in late position. If your opponents hate to fold in the game you’re playing in, then cut down on the moves you make. Remember though, your general mind-set should be to stay alert and play strongly.

The golden rule…

If you only remember one thing from this late position section:

The button is everything in poker. Play often when you’re on it and be aggressive towards tight/weak players who act timidly before you.