Finding that preferred seat at a poker table

Mar 5, 2013 3:00 AM

When attending a play at the theatre, there is a “best seat in the house” from which you can best hear and see the performance. The favored seats at a sporting event often sell at a premium. So too, at poker tables, there are preferred seats.

Which are they? Do you have any choice? When called to the table to play at a game underway, you take whichever seat is available.

All not alike: Consider that the poker table is oval-shaped, with the dealer seated at the middle on one side. You can better see the board when seated just across from the dealer in seat No. 4, 5, or 6 at a nine-player game. If you have a vision problem, all the more reason for preferring these seats.

 You might have a bit more difficulty viewing the cards on the board from seat Nos. 2, 3, 7, and 8. That can lead to mistakes in reading your hand or guessing what hands your opponents might be drawing to. If you are in seat No. 1 or 9, the dealer’s body obscures your view of the player, his hole cards and chips on the opposite side.

These are factors you might consider when seated at a table. When a preferable seat is available as players leave the game don’t hesitate to announce to the dealer you will move into that seat.

There is an even more important issue concerning your seat position at the table. We all know seat position with regard to early, middle, or late position is important. But those positions rotate clockwise along with the button and blinds after every hand dealt, so it all evens out in the long run. So what could be more important than the visibility issue?

It’s quite common that there is an especially aggressive player at your table. He bets, raises and re-raises often. He may do it almost every hand. In the extreme, he is a “maniac!”

Consider that most of your starting hands will be “drawing hands.” They usually must improve to win the pot. The odds are against you. So, to make up for the bad odds, you need to see the flop for as little cost as possible. When the flop comes down on the board, you will be seeing over 70% of your final hand. But a double-bet is just too high a price to pay.

If you are seated to the right of the maniac, you dare not call the blind to see the flop for fear of a raise by the maniac seated to your left. But the maniac doesn’t raise every time. Still, in that situation, you are wise to call the blind only with hole cards that can “stand a raise.”

Better yet, if you are seated to the left of the maniac, you need not worry whether or not he will raise this time. You get to see how he bets before you must make your decision! That’s a big “edge” for you.

If the maniac does not raise, you can comfortably afford to call to see the flop with even a marginal drawing hand in a multi-way pot. And, if the maniac does his usual thing – raise – you can calmly fold hole cards that are less than a premium drawing hand.

Still better is when the maniac raises. If you happen to hold a made hand (pocket Aces, Kings, or Queens) or a premium drawing hand (A-K, A-Q, A-J, A-10 suited, K-Q, or K-J suited), you can re-raise him. The opponents behind you usually will fold rather than call a three-bet (the original bet plus two raises). Players in front of the maniac may also fold, faced with a double raise.

In any case, you have gained late position versus the maniac, and you may have isolated him. Most of the time, the maniac will hold a hand much inferior to yours; so you are a huge favorite over him.

Think about it.

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