The importance of positionThis article was posted on July 18, 2007
In every turn-based game (like poker and chess) position is extremely important. What it basically comes down to, is the fact that you'd always like to see what your opponent does before you do something meant to harm his chances and to eventually vanquish him.
In poker, Position is also extremely important. the concept behind it is very simple: you want to act last, you want to shoot your ammo after everyone's fired theirs. The general picture of the game is always clearest to the guy who acts last.
While simple in essence, position can have a great many intricate implications in the strategies people around the table adopt.
If you're faced with a maniac, you might want to act after him provided the strategy you plan to use requires it, or in front of him, if you want to choke him with his own rope.
Basically, in a Texas Holdem game, - where mostly good players play - one can see how the money flows around in a clockwise direction, following the dealer's button.
In Omaha Hi, you have the same thing going. The strategy considerations linked to table position are about the same as in Texas Holdem.
Things are far more complicated in Stud and Stud Hi-Lo though... Here, position is relative. The player who holds the best partial poker hand (board hand) is the first to act from the fourth street on, so the later betting stages get all mixed up position-wise. On the fifth street, an entirely different player may act first, so you can't really count on having position on somebody for most of the game.
There are hands you'd like to act first on, (especially when you aim to intimidate) and there are other hands you want to have everyone act ahead of you on (hands that you want to slow-play) At any rate, you'll probably always have a certain advantage on the player on your immediate right.
The most complex implications position has on game-play, can be observed at pot-sharing games, like Omaha Hi-Lo. (Both the highest and the lowest hands win, with each of them taking half of the pot)
Let's look at the bluff for instance: how do you like your chances when bluffing in last position against a bunch of skilled Omaha Hi-Lo players? They don't look too bright, do they? A middle position is what you'd definitely like to be in when bluffing.
On the other hand, you can't specifically state that last position is something you really don't want to be in, generally speaking, because it still retains some of the advantages it has in Hold'em.
The same way, middle position is sometimes an awful tight spot to be in, especially when someone in front of you has the one of the nuts and you know you have the other one. Remember, you'll share the pot with this guy at the end of the hand, so it is in your interest that other players stuff more money into it than you. Most Omaha players cannot seem to grasp this relatively simple concept, so they re-raise the guy instead of just calling him. That will drive out pretty much everyone else behind our guy, and he'll end up splitting the pot with the initial raiser.
The correct call here, is to just call him, unless you know (or suspect rather) that one more player behind you could have something like a nut low. In this case re-raising works just fine because it'll land another bet in the pot from someone else.
Generally speaking, in Omaha Hi-Lo, you want to be up front with your nut low hands, and act last on the nut high.
If you're a Hold'em player, and you want to take up Omaha, I suggest you pay extra attention to position at the table, because of the above-named reasons.