The button is revered among new poker players but you can maximize its play and defend against it more easily than you think.
It’s common knowledge that in poker games like Texas Hold ‘Em and Omaha, being on the button is the best table position, since you’ll get to act last on any betting rounds. For example: three people from the nine other players at the table limp into the hand before you. This lets you know that they (most likely) have a weak hand so you can go in and try to steal the blinds. Vice versa, if you’re holding a weak to mediocre hand and everyone else bets, you know you can bock out for free.
Pretty simple, right? Not really. There’s more to playing against as and against the button than a lot of beginning players realize. While it’s a great spot to be in, you need to learn to maximize the button’s potential and learn how to play against the button.
Maximizing The Button
One of the biggest concerns you should have when you get to be on the button is your table image, especially in longer cash games where you see the same people for several hours. You’ll want to be careful in how much you use the power of the button. Whenever possible, play a bit more conservatively when you’re in the spots just before the button. When people see you raising from the button, they’re likely to take you more seriously if you’re trying to steal the blinds. However, below, you’ll see a way to get use the same position to kick the button out of the hand.
On the other hand, if you raise from the button each and every time other players limp in from the other positions, people will begin to notice and start to push back, costing you the advantage. If you’re careful and play the position well when it’s your chance, you can begin to manipulate the position and the other players with little trouble. Some players believe the game is made or lost on the button and it’s easy to see why this train of thought is so prevalent.
Raising Against The Button
Many times, button players are on cruise control because they believe they get to relax a bit at the table. This means that you can actually knock them out of the running with just the tiniest bit of strategy. Make notes and next time you see someone using the button lazily, try raising from a position before them if you can. This can get the other player to fold and create a situation where you, essentially, are on the button, acting last.
This tactic also builds your credibility at the table and helps set up a possible bluff for the next betting round. After all, if you were doing well enough to scare the button out of the round, you may well have more than the others suspect you do.