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Late Position Starting Hands

Late Position: Pre-Flop Basic Openers

Hopefully you are beginning to get the feel for a Texas Hold'em Freeze Out Tournament. It is my wish that you have not only spent time observing but have decided to roll up your sleeves and jump in with both feet in playing a tournament. If you have, congratulations!

If not, that is all right. As you learn more and more about the game, you will find the time that is right for you. I highly recommend that you observe games as often as you can if you don't feel ready to play. The first four lessons dealt with the hardest positions to play in Texas Hold'em. That was the cake. Now we are going to look at the icing.

I know you are most likely getting tired of hearing this, but I remind you to remember that survival is key in a freeze out tournament. Although you are sitting in one of the two proverbial "catbird" seats, this is survival. The thought has to be up close and personal for you at all times. Therefore, the thing you must concentrate on is chip management, conservation and with a bit of luck, growth of your stack.

Reiterating, the following advice is not set in stone. There are many variables that might allow a player to do something different than follow these basics. As you improve and develop more skills, you will understand this statement. You will also find articles and advanced lessons in the school that outline more liberal play for Late Position. Remember, in a freeze out tournament, you cannot go back for more chips. Once you are are out!

Pre Flop Basic Openers by Position

Lets talk about Late Position Play:

This position is a very stimulating position for most players. The number of hands that you can play increase dramatically. Of course, this doesn't mean you can go crazy with the hands you jump in with. There will have been 8-9 players who have acted before you, and there will be much decision making to do. You should consider playing a few more speculative hands only because for the subsequent hands you will be the last or next to last player to act, and that is what makes late position so powerful.

Seat 1 and 2 are the blinds. Seat 3, 4 and 5 are considered early position pre-flop. Seat 6,7 and 8 are middle position. Say there was a blind bet in seat 1 and 2. And seat 3, 4, 5 6, 7 and 8 have acted. You are in seat 9 or 10. Here are the pre flop basic openers for late position:

  • If there are no raises in front of you, and there are more than 3 callers before you, you can call with any pocket pair. Remember, these small pairs have a possibility to play well against many players. However, you would never call with a small pair against a large raise.

    As we have discussed before, suited connectors also play well against many callers. It is also important to remember we are talking about pre-flop and we are talking about many callers, not raisers. For example, if Seat 5 raises the pot by half his stack, then it would not be prudent to call this raise with a pair of threes or 89 suited. If you have more than 3 players in and they have only called, then you have a potential hand pre flop to play against these players.

  • No matter how many players are in the hand pre flop, you could raise or re-raise with AA or KK. As a beginner, taking the pot at this point is a good idea. If you feel comfortable enough in calling and waiting to see the flop, then do so. Be prepared for other players to remain in the pot after the flop. As an advanced player, the rationale and playing strategy will be much different.
  • If you are the first to enter the pot after the blinds and you hold AA, KK, QQ, JJ, TT, AKs, AQs, AJs, KQs and AK, you should raise. You would most likely win the hand right then and there because your only competition are the blinds. Again, depending on the type of players in the game, you could raise with 99, JTs, QJs, ATs, KJs, and AQ.
  • If there are only a few players who have called, big cards can do well, unlike the little pairs and suited connectors.
  • If there have been 1-3 callers before you, you could call with 99, JTs, QJs, ATs, KJs, and AQ.
    • It is always beneficial to know how these callers execute their pre flop hands. Hopefully you have taked notes on their playing habits (as suggested in Lesson 2) and may discern whether you are up against a good hand or not. Think about whether you want a lot of callers or not. Would it be wise to call a player when you hold a 67s and are heads up with this player? Would it be judicious to call with a AQs against 3 callers? How about an AA? Food for thought.
    • You have learned enough now about the game to start being aware of stack size. This is another "awareness" that should come to your mind every time you think about survival. It is important for you to be conscious of everyone's stack size at all times. Big stacks are going to be trying to eliminate small stacks.

      Even if you are in late position, if a player makes a huge raise before you and you do not hold a very powerful hand, such as AA, KK, then you will need to lay your hand down if you are in a vulnerable position of ending up a small stack. Discipline is the tournament "make it or break it" drive to winning. For example, Seat 6 pushes in his entire stack You are holding ATs. Yes, you are in prime position. But, would you rather call, and "possibly" win versus being the aggressor with AA or KK some other time. Just a thought.

    • A small stack goes all in and you have a big stack. You are in late position and you are holding an 88. If you feel you can take the chance of losing the amount the player has risked, then you should call. You have the upper hand at this point if the raiser has anything other than a pair bigger than yours. If you feel the call would make you lose a large portion of your stack, then it is prudent to release your hand and wait for another time to take this player down.

Starting Hands in Late Position

s = suited

Re-raise AA, KK, AKs
Raise if no one has called before you AA, KK, QQ, JJ, TT, AKs, AQs, AJs, KQs, AK, 99, JTs, QJs,ATs, KJs, and AQ
Raise (at least 4 times the bet) if 1-3 Callers before you AA, KK,QQ, JJ, AKs, AK
Call if 1-3 Callers before you TT,99, 88, AQs, AJs, ATs, KQs, KJs, KTs, QJs, QTs, JTs, AQ, KQ,
Raise (at least 4 times the bet) if more than 3 callers before you AA, KK
Call if more than 3 callers before you QQ, JJ, TT,99, 88, AQs, AJs, ATs, KQs, KJs, KTs, QJs, QTs, JTs, AQ, KQ, 77, 66, 55, 44, 33, 22 T9s, 98s, 87s, 67s, J9s, J8s, T8s, and AXs (X=any rank)
Fold All other hole cards


Be very careful with any player who limps in ahead of you in early position and then puts in a substantial re-raise if someone else has raised behind them. This usually means the player has slowed played an AA or KK hoping to suck in a raiser. Discipline should come into play here. For example, although you have already called with your 55, it will be time to release them in this circumstance.

If you try this slow playing limping ploy, and you are the one who limps in with the AA or KK, be aware that you might be engaging in a really bad joke if someone calls with a hand that he would have folded and then draws out on you when the flop comes. Are you willing to take that risk?

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