The term early position in poker refers to the first two or three seats at the poker table which act first on the preflop betting round.

In short handed (6-max) games the term early position applies exclusively to the lojack seat (so only one position at the table). 

In full ring games the term early position can apply to either first two or first three positions depending on whether it is a 10-handed or 9-handed table. If the full ring table becomes 8-handed there will now only be one early position seat at the table. 

In this guide we’ll learn the following - 

Why is it Called Early Position in Poker?

It is named early position in poker because players in these seats act first preflop. The early positions are to the direct left of the blinds.

What is Early position in 6-handed Poker?

The term early position applies exclusively to the lojack position when talking about 6-handed poker. The most common name for this position amongst 6-max players is ‘Under the Gun’ (UTG). The UTG position is to the direct left of the big blind. 

What are the Early positions in Full Ring Poker?

The three early positions in full ring poker are the under the gun, EP1 and EP2. (Sometimes UTG, UTG+1 and UTG+2). There will eventually be less than three early positions if players leave the table. For example, an8-handed table has just one early position known as ‘under the gun’. (The first position at the table is always referred to as ‘under the gun’ no matter how many players.)

What is a Good Early position Winrate?

Players do not expect especially high winrates from early position but they do expect positive winrates (since folding is considered break-even). A rough guide might be a winrate of 5 to 10 bb/100 hands from the early positions. 

How Should we Play Against Early Position Opens?

Early position opens are generally very strong and should be given a decent amount of respect. While we can still cold-call and three-bet against early position open raises we should use a stronger range than we would when defending against later position opens. 

Is it Possible to Steal the Blinds in Early position?

The early positions are not typically considered good seats to try and steal the blinds from. While we can sometimes open slightly wider if there are weaker (or especially tight players) behind, the overall open-raising range should still be very strong from this position. 

How Aggressively Should We Open-Raise from Early position?

On a 6-handed table, professional players usually open-raise with around 14% of holdings from early position (the lojack). On a full-ring table it will be much tighter. The average raise-first-in frequency across these positions will be closer to 9%. Raising wider than this runs the risk of being non-profitable because we have so many players to act after us preflop. 

Early position – Final Pointers

We should look to play a very tight range of holdings from early position since we have many players still to act after us preflop. When facing open raises from early position we should treat them with caution since our opponent is unlikely to be raising with a weak range of hands.

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