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Let's talk a bit more about position, from the perspective of post flop action.  This is going to involve balancing initiative with positional advantages, as we seek to make the best judgements we can based upon what we have and what's going on at the table.  And no matter what we have, whether it's the nuts, pure garbage, or everything in between, we need to pay proper regard to both before deciding how to play our cards.

The tendency among most players, while giving some regard to considerations of their position in the betting sequence, is to not pay enough attention to these sort of things.  It's tough not to look at your cards and base your decisions too much upon what you have.  Now, of course this is extremely important, but we want to train ourselves to think things through more, in terms of what the other players in the hand are doing, may do, and our actions in regard to both.

So what are we talking about here really?  Well, the natural tendency is to focus on winning the hand, and often not give enough regard to all the players in the game.  Let's take an example.  There's 5 people in the pot, say, on the turn.  Player 1 bets it out.  It's over to you, and you have a hand that is worth a raise.  So you raise.  Now, the other 3 people behind you all fold, and the original better calls.  On the river, he checks to you, you bet, he calls, and you win the hand. 

Now, from the time we've entered the hand, you made 3 bets, all from the player you have position on.  And you made 0 bets from those who had position on you.  On the turn, you gave them some valuable information, namely, that you had a very strong hand.  You put them on cold calling 2 big bets, and no one wanted to play with you.

Now, let's say we get the exact same situation, at a different game.  Player 1 bets into you.  Although you have a strong enough hand to raise, you're now a little more trained in looking at all the circumstances, not just the fact that you have a raising hand.  You reason that 3 players have position on you here, and while they like to call, they will probably fold if you raise here.  And, if for some reason they end up folding, well the first better is likely to bet it out on the river again, and you can raise him there.

So, let's look into the different scenarios here, and see how they cash out.  You call, the other 3 fold (unlikely), you come out even. Now, for each opponent who calls after you (up to 3), you get at least 1 additional big bet from each player, and this isn't even counting what you can get out of them at the river.  And once we get to the river, depending on how many people are in the hand, we'll look at the situation again, and decide what the best thing to do is.  As you can see though, raising here was the wrong move.

Now, these are fairly loose players, so we'll say 2 of the 3 call.  Now we're at the river, the guy bets it out again, and you're deciding whether to raise or not.  Now, these players have come this far, and for one more bet they will probably call to see the showdown.  If you call and they both fold, you've lost a bet, since you know the original better will call a raise here.  If one person calls, you come out even.  And if both call, you're up a bet.  If you raise though, one or both may call the raise here, because they have more money invested in the pot, and are more likely to call a raise here than at the turn.  This is true both because they have shown an eagerness to stay with their hands, and the fact that the pot odds are better for them to call now, since there's more money in the pot.

So, you look at all the different scenarios, and decide more of them help the raise than hurt it.  You raise, one of the opponents folds, the other calls, it, and the original guy calls too.  Now, compared with the origninal plan of making 3 bets on the turn and river, you've now made 7, by using your head a little more.  And even a single extra bet made really adds up over time.

You may be thinking that in online games you really don't have time to do this much thinking.  For starters, players often don't use their time online wisely, but even considering that, you are right in that you don't have a heck of a lot of time to go over a lot of details.  However, simply starting to think things through a little more will develop your skill at this, to the point where this stuff becomes more and more second nature, and you are able to decide such things very quickly.

This is just one example of course in considering your position in the betting sequence and how your decisions will affect the overall amount in the pot.  Some are more obvious and easier to decide.  For example, say you had the same hand, but were last to act.  3 people are already in the pot, and like most online players, once they've invested in a round they tend to almost always call the extra bet when raised, then will look to check to you in later rounds.  So now, you put the raise in, and all 3 opponents call.  You've referenced your position to do this of course, which is the process you want to get into the habit of doing each time you act.

We want to be thinking ahead a little more with our moves though, and look to what our actions may do in later rounds.  The perfect example of this is on the flop, against a couple of opponents, in last position.  If you raise, you will get one small bet each out of them probably, but they'll be checking to you the rest of the way, unless they get lucky on you and hit something bigger than you have.  And you can count on someone betting the turn.  By raising the turn instead, you'll get an extra big bet out of them, and double your extra take with the raise.  So it pays to wait.

This analysis is something we need to do regardless of what position we're in.  We've looked at middle and late position, but does this come up in early position as well?  Yes, and here's an example.  You've got the same strong hand at the turn.  There's 4 opponents.  Your hand is not only worth betting out, it's worth raising with.  What do you do though?  In this case you're almost certain that someone will bet it out.  If you bet, you'll get 2 callers.  Let's look at what checking will do though.  Player 1 bets, someone folds, and someone calls.  Now, you can put in your raise, and since the other 2 opponents have already put money in the pot, they're probably going to call it.  So now, instead of 2 big bets, we have 4.  You got each of your opponents to put double in the pot this way.

Some of this may be second nature to you, but the important thing here isn't illustrating ways of playing hands, it's to bring to light that these are the considerations you need to be thinking about each time you act.  We'll be exploring this in more detail as we go, but for now, what you want to do before you act is to have a look at the effect of what different moves will have on your opponents, and not make the obvious move every time.  And as you practice this, you'll get better at it, and develop some very good habits in squeezing out extra profit from your opponents.
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