POSITION: A CRITICAL PART
OF TOURNAMENT STRATEGY
By KENNTH R. SMITH
When you take a seat at a tournament table, you should be armed with a basic strategy of how you plan to approach the game. But thereís one unknown about your round that wonít be settled until you sit down at the table. Seating position can have a big impact on your chances for success in a tournament round. Most tournaments assign seats in a random fashion, by having the player draw from a blind set of seating choices. However, some tournaments allow players to choose their seats. When available, this option can give you an extra edge if you know how to take advantage.
Letís take a look at why some seats are better than others. There are two main areas in which position matters. First, thereís the impact of the betting button. In tournament play, the first-base button moves around the table, and each player in turn must bet and act in sequence starting at the button. If youíre "on the button", that means youíre forced to choose your bet before the other players, and donít have the benefit of knowing what they will bet behind you. Also, during play of the hand, youíll have to play your hand before seeing any of your opponents play. By way of contrast, the player to your immediate right has a considerable advantage on this hand, being able to see all players bet amounts before making a decision.
By rotating the button around the table, each player has a roughly equal number of bets "on the button" and "last to act", as well as everything in between. But, not all hands of a round are of equal importance. In particular, the last hand is usually the determining factor of who advances and who is eliminated. With that in mind, thereís a big advantage to be gained if you manage to be last to act on the final hand.
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