Secrets of poker Poker

The money or the gun?

Written by Ben Blaschke

The game of poker has so many bizarre terms to describe everything from hole cards to position to the value of a hand that it could just about be described as its own language. The nuts, pocket rockets, raising from the hi-jack – if you weren’t a poker player you’d have no idea what these crazy people were talking about!

A few weeks back we looked at the term “the nuts” and explained where it first originated. Today we’re going to look at “under the gun”, which is usually abbreviated to UTG. What does UTG mean? This refers to the player in each hand seated immediately to the left of the big blind. As such, after each hand is dealt, the UTG player will always be first to act in the pre-flop betting round.

In everyday life, UTG simply means to be under great pressure. This is apt at the poker table because the UTG player is at a huge disadvantage for the simple fact that he must act first without knowing what any of his opponents is going to do. Will they raise? Will they fold? Will they call? Even if the UTG player doesn’t get raised and we see a flop, they are again at a disadvantage in each subsequent betting round for the same reasons outlined above.

By comparison, the player on the button is at a huge advantage because they get to see exactly what every other player does before the action reaches them.

But it’s not all bad news for the UTG player. Fold your weak and mid-strength hands from this position and you can’t get yourself into too much trouble. And if you have aggressive players to your left who like to raise early position limpers – or have perhaps seen you raise then fold to a re-raise – it can be a wonderful spot to trap from when you do pick up a big hand.

UTG is certainly the most difficult position at the poker table, but if you play smart, fold your average hands and wait for the right spot you can avoid many of the pitfalls which cause problems for so many others.