Much is made in poker literature about defending your blinds but less is said about defending your button. It is very important that you try and play as many pots as possible when on the button, as you can use the sledgehammer of position to really put your opponents to the test. In the current poker climate, where many players are starting to play a very aggressive and loose style, you will frequently have a raise in front of you before the action gets around to you on the button. It is important to send a message to the players at your table that you will not allow them to continually raise when you are in position.
By playing lots of pots on the button, you will quickly start to make it clear that you will not give up position lightly – players quickly notice that they always sem to be playing pots out of position with a specific player and try and adjust their behaviour accordingly. The button is an incredibly important position in any form of poker that has rotating blinds – the largest percentage of your profit will come from it (particularly if playing short handed where position is extremely important due to the much larger number of decisions players have to make).
If you want to see the effects of this for yourself, simply download any of the available poker tracking software and look at your positional statistics – you will quickly see that the button is by far the most profitable position, followed by the cut off, then the hijack and so on around to the blinds where your profit will turn to a loss.
Playing in position as often as possible is perhaps the most important concept that has to be grasped in order to become a successful poker player. Because of this, it is imperative that you do as much as possible to a) play as many pots as possible when on the button; and b) do your utmost to make the table wary of opening when you are on the button – giving you the best chance at not only being the first player to raise, but also to do it in position on the players holding the reason your at the table – those sitting in the all important blinds.
Remember that your time on the button will always be the most profitable of your time at the table. Protecting it and playing on it are critical to poker success and you forget this at your peril.