Texas Holdem: Late Position

Much of the correct late position play is different from the early and middle position especially on the button and in the position just to the button's right (and sometimes in the position two to the button's right). One reason for this is that you will have excellent position on all the betting rounds which will allow you to make better decisions than you would make in the earlier positions. This is because when your rivals check or bet, you have figured much of the information about their hands, while they do not have the same information about your hand.

This certainly means that you should play aggressively if the pot is short-handed, unless the blinds and remaining players are loose. If it is a multi-way pot, you should however, be less aggressive unless you hold a hand that plays well in a multi-way pot.

You should know that if you are in a late position and are the first player to enter the pot, any hand that you should play is always worth a raise. This means hands in Groups 1-7, perhaps even Group 8, and even worse hands if you think your rivals are tight enough that have a fair chance to steal the blinds. However, if there are already callers, only raise with hands in Group 1-3 and sometimes with Group 4 hands (except if there are many players, do not raise with unsuited high cards but should also be willing to raise with hands as weak as Group 5 if they are straight flush combinations.)
Suppose if you have

And there are many players in the pot, it is better to call (if there has not yet been a raise). On the contrary, if you have

Several players are already in the pot and no one has yet raised then raising would be a good play.

But we should suggest that you should consider your rival before raising with a hand like 87. If you are against players who not only play too many hands, but go beyond with their hands irrespective of the size of the pot, there is less value to raising. The partial reason to make this raise is to attract your rivals to continue on if you happen to get a flop as you wish. But if you are somewhat sure that they will do that anyway, then you should merely call.

The other reason to raise is if you think it may "buy you the button." Acting last on the succeeding betting rounds is a great advantage. Hence with the average hands it may be worth raising if you think it will take that raise to get the button to fold.

You can occasionally raise with some weaker hands in late position. This chance occurs when you are against one or two callers who play badly and did not enter the pot from the early positions (and might possibly have weak hands). If you have playable hand that would prefer to play against a small number of rivals and you are sure that your raise will fold everyone out behind you, then you should raise. This would include hands like AJ's, KJ, QJ and even a hand as weak as QT. However, if you are not sure that everyone will fold behind you, you should not make this play and even consider folding some of these hands (example QJ and QT).

The reason for this type of raise is that against weak rival (and reiterated you should always consider your rival when making your playing decisions), it allows you to "take control" of the pot. This means if your rivals do not flop a hand and you bet after they have checked, then you will be able to pick the pot. This is true if a high card has flopped. If you choose not to bet on the flop, your raise may have gained you a free card. (More will be discussed later in the text.)

For example, suppose you raise a weak player who calls from a middle position and you have:

If the flop comes:

Your rival will check and fold, assuming that he does not flop anything, as he will fear that you will probably have a king.

You can also often make the same play with the small pair or a suited connector such as:

You can do it when you have very good control over your rival, you are very sure that everyone will fold behind you, and the blinds are tight.

Eventually, when deciding if it is correct to make such kind of play, you have to be sure of what your rival thinks of you. If your play frightens him, be prepared to go ahead with this kind of raise. But remember that these are volatile strategies that can go wrong especially you have misjudged your rival.

For calling a raise cold, you need a very good hand, even in late position. On the other hand, if several people are already in the pot, even though it has been raised, you can also play hands like:


You can play small pairs if you can expect at least five players. Even without this many you can still call the raise if you are against players who have the possibility to lose many bets. If these conditions are favorable, it becomes correct to call with all pairs down through deuces.

If the raise is from the middle or later position you can play a few more hands if the raiser is first one in and does not play well. (First in means that he is more likely to be raising with a weak hand and also because he may be trying to steal the blinds.) However, you have to be careful and never play a hand like:

Furthermore, always re-raise with Group 1 hand and as before, be ready to re-raise with hands as weak as AQ, 99, or 88 if it is a "loose raiser."

If the pot is not multi-way and you are against a legitimate raise you can rarely make it three bets with a medium pair or a hand like JT's. You necessarily need not be in a late position to make this play, but would be little better if you are. A play like this would be correct because if you only make it three bets with AK or a high pair you are giving much information. However, if you are against players who are not attentive, and tend to automatically go beyond with their hands, then this play would never be correct.

You can almost always re-raise with weaker hands, even those as weak as Group 4. This happens when your rival is the first one in from a late position and he may enter the pot with a raise. Observe that your rivals may be trying to steal the blinds, so a re-raise on your part, with fairly strong hands, becomes correct. On the contrary, with the exception of AJ and KQ, re-raise with a Group 4 hand only if your rival is a bad player and you think you have good control over him. Otherwise, you should limit yourself to Groups 1-3. If you and your rival do not flop a hand, your re-raise not only may stop him from trying to steal the pot, but also may allow you to do the stealing. Hence the correct play is to either re-raise or fold before the flop. It is not always correct to call.

The above play can also be correct with pairs down through sixes and rarely as weak as fours. However, to make this case, you need to be against someone who will release on the flop or someone who will check it down if they suspect over their hand. This means a solid player who is winning in the game (and hence is not steaming), or an extremely weak player.

If you have a hand like KT, QT, or JT (all offsuit) and one or two players have called from an early or middle position, you should in that case throw your hand away. This can be true if one of the limpers plays well. It will now be easy for you to hit your hand but still lose because you have made a second best hand. You can throw any of these if one of the limpers, especially the first player in, is about to limp with very good hands. However, against bad players who will come with many hands they are playable.

If you are last - that is, if you are on the button - and there are already callers, you can play hands in Groups 1-7. If you have small pair and are against four or more callers, the correct play is to raise sometimes. This is another example of making the pot bigger so that if you hit your hand, you rival will be prepared to call you with just over cards on the flop. They may also check to you, thereby giving you a free card and another (small) chance to make your set. This play is also correct with small suited connectors. Again, do not always play with these hands. But you can rarely make this play beneficial.

If you are on the button, many players are already in and the pot is not raised you can call with many additional hands. The hands include Group 8 and even more weak hands like

The reason is the big implied odds that you will be getting if the flop comes just as you would like it to come. However, this is not always correct. It is improbable that it would be correct to call a hand with:

As mentioned earlier, if no one has called, you can raise the blind from the late position (button) with any hand in Groups 1-8. With the hand like an ace with an unsuited weak kicker, you still should raise the blinds if they were either very tight or very weak players. Weak player we mean here is a player who will make you win at the showdown. For example, you raise with something like

and are called by the blind. If this player is willing to check on the river with nothing, even if you show weakness by not betting on the turn, then he is a kind of player you would be contend to play a lone ace against.

The same rule applies to a hand like K, but even more so. That is, against tough rivals, usually throw away Kx. However, if you do play with Kx on the button, make sure that you always raise. Do not just call the blind if you are the first one in. (There is an exception to always raising with Ax or Kx if you play them first in on the button. Refer "Playing Short-Handed" - "When the Blinds are Very Loose.")

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