Buying Position in Poker
Table position is a pivotal concept in poker. Your position can drastically change the EV or “profitability” of a hand. There are tons of move which are more profitable when you have position on your opponent. Semi-bluffing, floating and double-barrelling the turn for example are far more profitable from position when you are last to act in the hand. 3betting light and stealing the blinds can similarly only be done profitably from either CO or LP.
Because playing “out of position” can make certain hands unprofitable to continue going forward with, a new term known as “buying position” has become more important.
What is Buying Table Position?
Buying table position means that you are paying extra chips in a hand in order to force your opponent into a positional disadvantage.
In order to explain what the advantages of buying back table position are, let’s look at an example situation. Let’s say that you’re sat in MP with Q10s and your opponent raises 3 big blinds pre-flop from LP. You call his raise and now the flop comes K-10-6 rainbow. You now have mid-pair, which is a good hand but not something that you an throw your chips into at this stage. A standard move is to check the hand and see what your opponent does. However the problem with doing this is that if your opponent decides to raise the flop than it puts you in a very difficult situation. His 3bet pre-flop means that he could have your beat with a higher kicker (e.g. AQ/KQ) or he could have hit top pair or trips. Calling here would be dangerous play because ultimately you need to improve your hand by the turn to call another raise. Overall then, checking out of position initially was a bad idea.
By continuation betting first-to-act on the flop you can essentially buy back your position, forcing your opponent to make a decision based on your raise in front of him.
He cannot just bluff you off the pot this time – he has to actually consider what range of hands that you could be holding. Of course he may decide to float your bet and see how you act on the turn but your raise on the flop makes his decision more harder. Unless he has a top pair it makes calling you down harder. A typical hand that your opponent might hold in this situation is AQ+, Ax or pocket pairs. So unless he manages to hit the Aces or set on the turn his is going to have to fold to another raise from you and he knows it.
Another example of buying position is the re-steal. A lot of the time, particularly in MTTs when the blinds + antes are high, loose players will be stealing the blinds pre-flop from LP or CO with a wide range of hands such as suited connectors and J10+. If you have noticed that a player has been stealing a lot of pots however (you could do this by checking his Poker HUD stats) than you can attempt a re-steal. This is when you re-raise him (3bet or 4bet) in the hope that he will fold. The re-steal involves taking back position in poker because you are forcing your opponent to hesitate about calling an extra raise or not.