Profit by Position in Poker

Profit by Position in Poker

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As we discussed in the poker strategy article about position at the poker table, the closer you sit to the right of the small blind, the better your position is. This should be obvious for anyone who has played at least a few hands in online poker. The more interesting question however is: how much does the position affect profitability? The quick answer is: very strongly. A player seated in late position (cut off, button) earns twice as much per hand as a player seated in middle position.

Analysis Profit (in BB) per Hand by Position at the Poker Table

For our analysis we have used the statistical data published by PokerRoom, a poker site from the Ongame network which has now been integrated into BWIN. The data comes from millions of real money cash games played at full ring tables (10 players per table). Even though there are some differences between cash games and tournaments, we are convinced that you can use these findings also for beating poker tournaments such as Sit and Go or Double or Nothing games. We have analyzed the raw data (profit in BB by starting hand and by position) and calculated the weighted average profit by position. The data included over 120 million played poker hands and, from our understanding, excludes rake.

Relationship between Profit and Position in Poker

The following chart displays the strong correlation between position and $EV (expected value in dollar): while the blinds are losing money, the profit per hand strongly increases the closer a player is seated to the button:

Profitability of Early, Middle and Late Position

To display the effects of position in poker more clearly, we have eliminated the loss-making positions small blind, big blind and UTG from the previous chart and indexed the winnings to the best position, the dealer button. As you can see, the two late positions are by far more profitable than the other seats at the poker table. Cut off and dealer button are twice as profitable as the middle positions and seven times as profitable as UTG+1 and UTG+2.

Explanation of this Difference

There is a simple explanation for this huge difference in profit between early and late position at a poker table: the later you have to act, the more information you have compared to the players acting before you. This gives you the following advantages:

  • It is easier to steal the blinds (if all the players before you folded)
  • You have a better indication of the hand strength of your opponents (giving you the chance to fold semi-strong hands against a raise of a very tight player)
  • You can limp with speculative hands such as QTs or 65s, as the risk is small that there will be a preflop raise, forcing you to fold your hand
  • It is easier to bluff
  • You can drive limpers out of a pot with a strong raise and steal the pot
  • Re-steals against possible blind steals from middle positions or from the cut off are only possible in late position

For these reasons, you can play more starting hands in late position, and you will have a higher profit per hand.

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