Mastering the positions in online poker is essential to shape a successful strategy. Everything depends on them: your odds calculation, the strategy you are going to choose to attack the pot, the reading you make of the game, how the moves of those next to you can affect you…
That is why having in your mind a mental scheme that allows you to position yourself quickly during the critical moments of the game is so important. And that can only be achieved by mastering the positions in poker. So: what does UTG in poker mean? What does playing from this position entail? Let’s see.
What is UTG in poker?
UTG in poker stands for Under The Gun, one of the least unanimously loved positions in online poker. The name comes from an English expression that reflects the pressure to which the player who occupies this position, located just after the blinds, is subjected.
Being the first of the starting positions, he is the one who speaks without having a single piece of information about the opponents. Nor can he begin to shape a sketch of the tells of the players, because he barely has time to settle some of their critical aspects. That is why it is the most hated position as a rule.
The level of risk involved in a UTG varies depending on the point of view of the person explaining it. Normally, the one who has the least to lose is the one who risks the most, but the UTG, having to make a preflop bet with only the SB and BB data, has nothing to hold on to as a reference. You can be conservative or ambitious, although better the former than the latter so as not to unnecessarily put yourself in a compromising situation.
A UTG in poker is always at a disadvantage, regardless of the modality, variant and type of game being played. However, the rotation of positions means that all the players at the table reach this position sooner or later. Therefore, it is necessary to be clear about the premises:
- Any move you make can go wrong. You lack data, so it is like flipping a coin.
- At full ring poker tables, your play will directly influence what UTG +1 and UTG +2 do. They have a disadvantage, but nothing compared to you when you occupy the UTG.
- Trying to camouflage your play is absurd from the UTG position in poker. You have nothing to hide because you are totally blind, so you will have to devote yourself to limiting damage by speaking only when your cards give you a strong hand.
- If you have a powerful hand, don’t let it show too obviously either. A UTG who bets aggressively is either a fish who doesn’t disguise his good luck, or is very bad at bluffing. Always keep a low profile and stay in the game if your cards allow it, but don’t overplay.
- Playing from UTG in a poker tournament, going all-in can be a good idea. Considering the unfavorable situation, it can be a good way to intimidate the villain and make him fold the round.
Best hands UTG poker
The best hands playing from UTG in poker are always going to be the ones formed with premium cards: A A, A K or K K are perfect for playing from UTG. Ignore 10 10 or J J, pairs that you should have them judge conservatively from this position. Anywhere else at the table they would be a strong pair, but at UTG they don’t give you the support you need.
Take a look at the blinds. If the big blind equals about a quarter of our stack, we can extend the range of hands. Here we could use 10 10 and J J, but also K Q and A J, to name a few examples.
UTG position poker
Under The Gun, UTG, is the most complicated position in poker. Both at full ring tables and in shorthanded poker, speaking the first without having any information about the rest of the players in the round is going to be bad for us, especially in the preflop betting round, when we have not even had time to gather the minimum amount of data about the players to try to know something more about their style of play or the possible cards with which they are shaping their hand.
Going in blind means taking more risks, although it is always best to keep a low profile and, obviously, not to boast of a good hand if we are lucky enough to have two starting cards that put us in a privileged situation. In this way, we can keep our game somewhat opaque, avoiding exposing ourselves to a series of folds that make us win a small pot.
In case you are lucky enough to have a premium pair of cards playing from UTG, your intention should be to enlarge the pot at the expense of the bets of others, always looking like an unwary fish who does not know when to stop losing.
But such cases are remote. Normally, playing from UTG implies to be always on the defensive, but not too much. Losing, but without making a hole in our stack. Limiting damage is the most sensible thing to do, although you should never miss a possible semi-bluff if the cards put you in a position to risk.