A poker table is a table specifically designed for playing poker games. The need for a card table came about in the 1700s in Europe. The tables served as great home furniture and often had a folding tabletop that allowed them to serve as regular, console tables and end tables when not in use for a poker game. One could buy a poker table with wood or stone inlays, detailed carvings and extravagant veneers. A few folding poker tables even had playing token and cardholder areas marked out on its surface. The poker table top of this time, most commonly spotted in North America and Europe was semicircular and measured 36 inches in diameter.
The post-colonial and early American period witnessed this folding poker table taking on a simpler form with straight lines, ovolo corner and sleek tapering square legs. Then came the modern poker table that adapted from it’s folding poker table avatar. The nouveau poker tabletop featured a baize or felt or a Teflon coated fabric to ease the sliding of cards across the surface. They came as full-fledged tables or with a fold-out poker tabletop surface. With the broadcasting channel opening up in poker, the poker tables that featured in the telecast were fitted with pocket cams that allowed the spectator to view the hole cards dealt to players.
With televised poker becoming the need of the hour, poker table tops became fairly oval, with poker players sitting around the curve and the dealer facing them. The edges of the tables came with better cushioning giving players a slight elevation to rest their arms, colloquially known as the ‘rail’. The section of wood between the rail and the playing surface is called a race track and often features cupholders. The modern age poker table now measures 92-104” in length, 44” in breadth and 30” in height.
Understanding the positions on a poker table
Understanding the positions on a poker table is crucial for any poker player. It’s part of poker strategy to exploit the strength of your position on the poker table.
Position on a poker table
The positions on a poker table are vastly referred to in relation to the dealer. The position of the dealer is pivotal in knowing whether you go first or last. In poker ‘having position on you’ refers to the player seated to your left on the player and this player will act only once you’ve played. The deal moves around the poker table so that all players around the table are given equal opportunities in each position. Here’s a look at the positions on a poker table depending on where you are seated.
THE BUTTON OR DEALER
The button is probably the best position on a poker table. After the flop, the dealer or button is the last to act in every wagering round therefore giving you ample time to make a decision.
EARLY POSITION – EP
Early position on a poker table refers to the three seats to the left of the dealer or button. Players who are in early position need to act first making it the least favourable position on the poker table. Since you are also closer to the dealer you have worse EP since you don’t have the prior knowledge of how other players will play this hand. The three early positions on a poker table are:
SMALL BLIND (SB) 1ST PLAYER TO THE LEFT OF THE BUTTON
The small blind acts second to last pre-flop and is the first to act in all other wagering rounds that follow. Since a player is playing blind, it’s probably the worst position on the poker table.
BIG BLIND (BB) PLAYER TO THE LEFT OF SB
The big blind goes last when it comes to pre-flop action. However, in this position you become the second player to act in all wagering rounds following the pre-flop. The trade-off to play after the SB is that you’re double his/her blind. Barring pre-flop the BB position is a losing seat in the long run.
UNDER THE GUN (UTG) PLAYER TO THE LEFT OF BB
Acting first pre-flop is certainly like a gun being held to your head, therefore the term ‘Under the Gun’. A position of pressure pre-flop on any poker table.
MIDDLE POSITION – MP
The middle position refers to the 3 players seated to the left of the last early position. You remain at the middle of a poker table, neither a great nor a bad spot. While it means you can play a little lose you still have a few players to act behind you and should proceed with caution in these positions on a poker table.
LATE POSITION – LP: THE DEALER AND THE 2 SEATS DIRECTLY TO THEIR RIGHT
While the button is a great position so are the two players to the dealer’s right. These players have the best view of how a poker hand is going to play out and are in a strong position to decide whether to call, bet, raise or fold. If no wager has been placed the round late position players claim the pot by wagering. This is known as ‘the betting position’. The dealer button is one of the late positions on a poker table, the other two are:
THE CUTOFF – CO: PLAYER TO THE DEALER’S RIGHT
Cutoff position is probably the best position to be a little adventurous with your poker hands. Most players in this position raise aggressively to force the button to fold.
THE HIJACK – PLAYER TO THE CUTOFF’S RIGHT
The position is aptly christened since the button and cutoff steals are common. If you are in this position on the poker table, you’ll probably hijack the two later seat’s actions by stealing the blinds before them.
Poker tables play an integral role in a game of poker. Buy a poker table to get you started at home amongst friends, add a poker set and you are all set to explore the poker felts.