Middle position players are located between the under the gun and cutoff positions. You are in position over the small blind, big blind, and under the cannon, while your other opponents are in position above you.
From middle position, you have a bit more leeway than from the blinds or under the gun. You should still look for good value and stay away from bad ones. It’s best to play a strong game when in middle position because players to your left will always know more about the situation than you.
The Middle Position Preflop Range
Showdown-valuable hands should make up a large portion of your preflop range. Your mainstays in this game will be Broadways, pocket pairs, and high Ax hands. A good starting point for an MP might look like this:
22+ A9s+ QTs+ J9s+ KQo+ AJo+ KQo+ 56s-T9s
Keep in mind that it is situationally appropriate to play subpar suited connectors. Reraising a gritty TAG’s UTG open with 56s, for instance, would be a bad move because you’d be up against a very value-oriented range. The odds of UTG having a better hand than 56s on the flop are too high for 56s to warrant fighting for it.
Take note: Have you noticed how frequently I use the word “probably” in these pieces? Poker is a game of imperfect knowledge, not because I am afraid to have opinions. It’s impossible to predict your opponent’s hand and always be right. All you can do is gamble on the odds and hope that you come out on top more often than not. Mastering this type of situational analysis is crucial to your success in poker.
Maintain an Aggressive Middle Ground
The key to making money at middle position, as in most other positions, is assertiveness. To maximize the value of your hand, you should open raise and pump the pot whenever possible. In middle position, you’re not going to maximize your earnings by avoiding open raising with solid hands.
In certain scenarios, you should consider limping instead of opening raising before the flop. In a passive game, for instance, if the player in front of you (UTG) decides to limp, you should think about calling with marginal hands that are suitable for multi-way pots.
For instance, if UTG limps before you, you should consider calling with 56s and most bottom pocket pairs. Limping here facilitates large multi-way showdowns by giving players behind an incentive to join the pot. These are fantastic for speculative hands, such as 56s, because they have a high implied value and a low buy-in.
Mistreat Your Counterpart in UTG When You’re in the Sweet Spot
It’s important to keep an eye on your opponent under the gun when you’re in the middle position. Observe his preflop play extremely closely. Is he usually the limp preflop player? Is he the type to give in to raises from behind? Make notes and put all you learn to good use.
The middle position benefits greatly from the presence of a chronic limper under the gun. You can put him out of the game before the flop by raising him to the limit. Either way, you come out ahead if your opponent is weak.
You may want to take advantage of a limper who is in a bad spot, but remember that you shouldn’t act like you’re on the button. Keep in mind that there are other players behind you who may have a strong hand. When abusing an under the gun limper, you can afford to widen your range a bit, but not so much that you’re caught with 27 offsuit if the cutoff decides to 3bet.
Taking the Lead
Not a fan of playing second fiddle? Just take it! A straightforward preflop bet in late position can often steal the blinds from a tight opponent to your left. In general, though, I wouldn’t recommend doing so. You’ve just bought yourself late position if you can get the cutoff and button to fold.
When there are two players in front of you waiting to act, it’s hazardous to try to steal the button. The benefit of raising in the midway position is that your raise will be given more consideration than a late raise. When you raise your hand from the middle position, people won’t necessarily think you’re trying to “steal” something.
You can cause greater trouble for your opponents if you’ve achieved late position. They’re all in early position (compared to you), giving you more opportunities to extract money from your made hands and get away with bluffs. You should use this strategy with caution, though. Getting stuck in the middle and starting to spout gibberish is the last thing you want to do.