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Playing on the Dealer Button

[ Posted December 15th, 2006 ] by admin

What’s easier than taking risk-free money at the poker table? Not much is easier and as risk-free but this is pretty close! Learning and incorporating good button play is very profitable at the poker table and is usually very risk-free.

Many tight players don’t try button steals at all, in fear of being re-raised. But to be a winning poker player you really can’t afford not to use this technique. Loose players however, don’t need the button to make bluffs at the pot. They’ll raise it up from any position. Now, I’m probably talking about a whole bunch of button plays that you already know or have read somewhere else before. But let’s dig a little deeper and maybe look at a few different plays which you may or not have heard before.

Books will tell you all about making the most of your position. They would suggest when it’s folded to you to prey on weaker shorter stacks and raise to steal the blinds and antes already in the pot. This is excellent play when in the right circumstances. So how do you know when the times right? There are always things to consider when raising on the button to steal the blinds…

Time your bluffs. If your image is tight use this to your advantage, don’t steal every round, unless you feel the big blind is very tight and weak. If you like to play a lot of hands, button raises are fine until you get re-raised. This isn’t a bad thing, because when you do pick up a big hand that one time and the big blind has had enough of your steals, they will re-raise with a weak ace or something similar.

Don’t try to steal against calling stations. Your objective is to steal the pot there and then. Pick off tighter players, they’re easier.

Know your players to the left of you. Watch their play, monitor their chip stacks and bet accordingly.

Be careful your bluffs aren’t committing too many of your chips to the pot. Keep it relative to the blinds and your stack.

With all this considered you should be well informed to make the right decision of when to try and steal the blinds.

But button play isn’t all about stealing the blinds. It’s much more than that. You have the best position in each betting round after the flop. So let’s have a look at an example of how this could be helpful.

It’s a short-handed 6 player Sit’n’go. We start with one under the gun minimum raise 400 to you on the button, you hold 8s 5h, a rubbish hand. The blinds are starting to grow 100-200 and are the shorter stacks at the table with the raiser who is average stacked. Any other time you would probably fold this hand, but on the button you might be able to take the pot down with your position so fearing a re-raise you just flat-call. Calling also makes it difficult for anyone to put on any real hand. The small blind folds and the big blind calls with the value. You’re hoping the flop will slow any action and it comes AsKsQs, and it’s checked to you. The pot is 1300 at this stage and you bet 450. The big blind folds and at this point your only real concern is the raiser. But you feel with just a minimum raise pre-flop and check on the flop, it seems a little too much slow playing for any big hand, you could almost put him on K10, KJ or possibly a smaller pocket pair, either way with weakness being shown, this is your time to take the pot from him. What you do know is he couldn’t have J10, AK, AQ, KQ, KK, AA, QQ because with the flush draw it’s unlikely he would slow play this hand. With a reasonable sized bet, 450 should be enough to make him think fold his pocket pair or at best, marginal hand as its small enough in terms of pot size for you to buy it cheaply but also make the raiser feel like he would be risking too much chips to call. Since the blinds are so high, he wouldn’t be able to call you if he hasn’t hit or only has a marginal hand. Any re-raise usually is enough for you to get out of the hand.

Your call pre-flop wasn’t really to hope for a miracle flop but more to hope for no action on the flop and you to take the pot down using your position. This play is great to use when the blinds are high and the players aren’t super aggressive or play is on the bubble.

Look out for super tight players to your left when they are on the button, they’ll be giving their position away to you a lot, simply by folding all the time.

Keys to look out for are:

Weaker or tighter players, especially on your immediate left, when they are in the blinds or on the button.

Flops that are unlikely to hit for other players

Be careful with re-raises

Stack size of opponents in the pot

Don’t bet too much. If someone wakes up with a big hand and check raises you or even calls you, be very careful. Keep your bets relative to the pot size, blinds and opponent stacks.

Keep in mind your position next time the blinds are growing and there are tight players vying for position. Because it happens almost every time you sit down to play.

‘Action’ Dan G – Winner of the AAP Poker Article Competition

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