What is the Button in Poker

Button in Poker

Playing poker on the button position is a prime example of how knowledge about your opponents' actions aids in making favourable decisions, regardless of whether it's in cash games or tournaments, online or offline sessions. And we bet all savvy players unanimously agree that having information on rivals is the key to success in the game.

This seat is considered the most advantageous at the table regarding profitability, and we explain why. So, let's delve deeper into how it can assist you in making money.

Explaining the Poker Button Term

The word ''button'' (BTN or BU) refers to a table position and designates the individual who will act as a conditional dealer. The seat in question stands out for a chip labelled "Dealer" or simply "D". Depending on the game format – virtual or live – it can be plastic (wooden, metallic) or virtual.

The chip (and therefore the position) moves clockwise from one person to another in each hand, allowing everyone to deal cards.

In brick-and-mortar casinos, cards are dealt by a specially trained person – a croupier. It is done for visitors’ convenience so that they can focus on the game. On the Internet, a computer program manages this process. Yet, the discussed position remains essential since it defines a small and a big blind (SB and BB) – those two individuals to post blind mandatory bets.

Did you know?
Did you know?

In heads-up matches (one-on-one), there are only 2 positions: button and big blind. The BTN posts the small blind as forced bets remain in play. Then, participants traditionally switch roles.

Order of positions at the poker table

Let's review the standard seating arrangement, focusing on the setup around BU and its place in the action sequence. So the blinds are first to contribute, followed by the UTG (Under the Gun) player making the initial pre-flop decision. Assuming we're playing at a 10-people table (aka “full ring”), we have seven seats left. Five gamblers occupy early and middle positions, while BU and the one before it (cut off in poker / CO) are in late ones.

Button in Poker

Please be reminded ☝
Please be reminded ☝

BTN, SB and BB are the last to act pre-flop. On the post-flop, however, the participant on the button has the final say – this is where the core tactical advantage of this position lies.

Playing on BTN: Position Advantages

As mentioned above, being on the button means a poker term that implies a specific seat at the table. And it is rightfully regarded as the most advantageous from a financial perspective. Its value is undeniable due to its multiple merits. Let's consider some of them below:

  • Late position provides information on what moves participants before you made.

Playing in an early position, we move first preflop and among the first postflop – hence lacking information about what our adversaries plan to do (and this is worth its weight in gold here). Seating on BU, we know everything, so we should get the most out of the available data. In slang, this represents playing "in position" (or IP).

By acting last, we become aware of the following:

  • how many people are clashing for the pot;
  • who limped (called the BB's bet);
  • who raised and to what amount;
  • how many participants called the raise;
  • current number of chips in the pot.
  • You have the power to affect the total pot size through your actions.

BTN can freely raise the previous bet, and consequently, all other participants will need to contribute up to that amount to continue competing for the pot.

If someone has initiated an open raise pre-flop and one or several rivals flat-called, BU can adhere to a tactic known as a squeeze play. Its objective is straightforward: attempt to seize a substantial pot or create a massive multi-way pot for subsequent betting rounds.

There's a chance to see the turn (and/or river) card for free if the player before you checks. In other words, you get to determine the pot size you want to fight for.

  • You have a chance to fold, keeping your stack.

Unlike SB and BB, you do not make a mandatory investment in the pot. Knowing your opponents’ decisions, you gain a rough idea of where you stand in the hand – ahead or behind the rest. If no one folds, several people demonstrate strong hands through their behaviour while you have trash, it makes sense to refuse further participation and safeguard your stack.

Did you know?
Did you know?

Besides blinds, there's another mandatory betting format called ante in poker. It refers to a bet every participant pays before they receive pocket cards. These two systems are used separately or mixed. In MTTs, for instance, antes are added at certain blind levels.

  • Great opportunity to steal blinds & take down pots nobody bid for.

When BU initiates action on the pre-flop, i.e., everyone else folds to them, only two players are left to move. This offers an opportunity to steal the blinds, even with marginal and weak cards.

Another key point to remember!
Another key point to remember!

Be ready for seasoned players in the blinds to counter your aggression by either calling or restealing (re-raising).

Rivals’ small investments and checks often signal that they have bad cards, which means you can attack them with raises and big bets. Such spots allow you to seize unclaimed funds, generally known as dead money. However, remain vigilant and wary of potential check-raises.

  • This seat allows you to enter the pot with a broader range of hands.

Here we talk about profitable play on the button meaning a poker player can win pots even if they have weak starters.

The privilege of having the last word empowers you to bluff in poker and semi-bluff by demonstrating premium hands (the main thing is to keep a poker face 😑).

Scenarios & Relevant Hand Examples

Using your position to grab uncontested pots.
Using your position to grab uncontested pots.

Post-flop, three people are involved in the hand.

Flop: 573. BU holds AJ, and it checks around to them. Despite not hitting the flop, they bet. The other two players fold, and BU takes the pot.

Using positional advantage to steal blinds.
Using positional advantage to steal blinds.

Button holds J4o (offsuit), and it folds to them preflop. They deduce that SB and BB are weak-tight players. BTN bets 3 big blinds, and both adversaries fold. Thus, they leveraged positional advantage to take blinds with a weak starter.

Using information on rivals’ bets to determine your position in the hand.
Using information on rivals’ bets to determine your position in the hand.

BTN holds A9; 9 players remain in the game. Flop comes down AKQ. The one in the early position bets 500, followed by a raise and re-raise. Despite hitting the top pair, Button folds as they realise their positional disadvantage.

Preflop Range to Play from Button

Your position significantly impacts starting hands you play. Being on the button provides a highly favourable spot – where you'll often win in the long run.

The game strategy here is straightforward: the closer to BU, the broader your poker ranges should be. Let's explore an appropriate spectrum for playing hands from the dealer seat:

  • 22+
  • all KXs and QXs
  • J8s+
  • double gappers 96s+
  • gappers (semi-connectors) 86s+
  • connectors 34s+
  • A8o+
  • K9o, Q9o, J9o, T9o+

Of course, this range will depend on the situation, but you should enter pots with as vast a spectrum as possible. Take advantage of this position correctly, and you'll witness a positive outcome in your game.

🤔 What does button mean in poker?

This term refers to a person who takes on a dealer's responsibilities (each participant does this in turn). It is also one of the most beneficial positions at the table.

🎯 Does the button play in poker?

The seat is marked with a special chip. In live games, this identifying marker prevents confusion and ensures no one misses their turn. As for online battles, a virtual chip moves automatically thanks to a computer program. On the pre-flop, such a participant acts nearly last (only SB and BB move after them) and has the final word on subsequent streets.

💵 Is the button the best position in poker?

Yes, many hold this view. This seat can influence the hand and offers the chance to dictate decision-making order. It's also the prime spot for stealing blinds on the preflop. Moreover, you make informed choices based on opponents' actions.

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Cardmates editor since 2018.
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