Talking Poker: The Button
Each week, the Talking Poker series will highlight a particular poker term. We’ll give you a clear, to-the-point definition of the term and an example of the strategic concept to which it refers, so that you can start using the term and implementing the related strategy into your game. This week we will be focusing on the button which represents the dealer’s position.
To be “on the button” or in the “dealer’s position” means that you are the last player to act on all post-flop streets in hold’em and Omaha. The button is used in draw games as well. In games with a non-playing dealer (such as in a live poker room), a dealer button is still used to indicate the order of play even though the player with the button does not deal.
Hero is “on the button” with . Two players limp in front, and Hero decides to raise because he has position which greatly increases the value of playing this hand. In early position, Hero would most likely opt to fold this hand. However, because he has the advantage of seeing the other players’ actions before he makes decisions, he will play it.
After Hero raises the blinds fold, and both limpers call. The flop comes . Both players check, and Hero bets. Both limpers call. The turn is the . The first limper bets and the second limper raises. The two limpers can easily have fours, full houses, or straights in their range. Hero is easily able to fold his hand knowing that his top pair is likely no good with this action in front of him.
Poker is a game of incomplete information. However, as shown in the above example, position can greatly increase the amount of information you are able to use in a given hand. Being “on the button” in hold’em or Omaha is the most advantageous position to be in because after the flop you act last during each betting round. Keep in mind, though, that using positional advantage, especially with mediocre holdings, takes skill and hand reading ability.
Read and Learn
For more about playing on the button, read “The Power of Position: Getting a Free Card” which describes one benefit of having post-flop position on your opponent. See as well “Lessons from the 2014 PCA: The Importance of Position” which presents another example of a player utilizing positional advantage when playing after the flop.