MCU poker tip: Maximizing positional advantage

By rule, the action goes clockwise in poker. That means, before you act, you’re usually going to see the decisions of players seated to your right.

I said “usually” and not “always,” because this sequence can be broken when, say, a player in the small blind acts before the player to the right who is in the dealer position. But that’s just temporary, and the positional action will return to normal on the next deal. The sequence can also be changed in games like seven-card stud where the high or low exposed card acts first. But usually you’re going to see what opponents on your right do before you make your decisions.

Lifelong profit

That’s an advantage. It is, in fact, such a great advantage that even world-class players make almost all of their lifelong profit from those seated closely to their right. And they lose money to those seated to their left. This truth applies to all reasoning poker players, at all levels of skill.

Get used to the fact that, even if you’re a somewhat better poker player, that opponent to your left is going to win your money eventually. The question is: How much money?

You see, that’s where skill comes in. Increasing your poker profit means extracting even more money from your positional advantage versus players to your right. It also means losing less money to players to your left.


Repeating: You will probably lose money to players on your left, because they always act after you and get to see what you do before they decide. This “positional advantage” in poker is so powerful, that you should neutralize it by making opponents on your left less likely to pick on you.

I do this by striking up friendly conversation, sharing information about my hand (after the pot is determined, of course), buying them coffee, and more. While I try never to irritate any opponents, I’m especially careful about never intentionally irritating players on my left. There’s no reason to motivate them to maximize their positional advantage.

I usually go to war with players on my right, where I have position working in my favor. I usually avoid going to war with players on my left. That’s what you should do, too. — MC

Published by

Mike Caro

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Known as the “Mad Genius of Poker,” Mike Caro is generally regarded as today's foremost authority on poker strategy, psychology, and statistics. He is the founder of Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy (MCU). See full bio → HERE.

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