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What Is the Hijack Seat in Poker and How to Effectively Use Your Position to Win
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If you are a poker player or would like to be, you have probably come across the term “hijack seat” at some point. “What is the hijack seat?” you may wonder.
This guide will not only define this popular term but also give you some tips on how to utilize the hijack seat to your advantage during your next poker game. Whether you have a weekly poker group comprised of old friends or like to polish your game at online casinos, knowing how to utilize the hijack seat can significantly up your potential to win. Continue reading to learn more.
What Is the Hijack Seat in Poker?
The “hijack seat” refers to the player who happens to be sitting two seats to the right of the “button” and just one seat to the right of the “cutoff.” At a six-person table, this seat would be referred to as “middle position” (MP).
The hijack seat is considered a late position in a full-ring game of Omaha or Texas Hold ’em, and it is important to distinguish that the term “hijack seat” is utilized most frequently by full-ring players. The term “hijack seat” evolved out of a poker trend wherein automatic button raises became quite common, resulting in cutoff players responding by raising more. As a cutoff player’s raises are thought to be regarded as strong, this gave rise to the unique opportunity of the hijack position.
The hijack position allows a player ahead of both the button and the cutoff to display strength by raising ahead of these two important figures and attempting to steal blinds. The central premise here is that a hijack player can raise with a weaker holding on the hope that it may cause the button and the cutoff to reconfigure their own raises if they have subpar cards. With this opening raise, the hijack player effectively “hijacks” the advantage by stealing the blinds.
How Can the Hijack Seat Be Used to a Player’s Advantage?
When any button player raises, it tends to send a ripple of suspicion down the table, as this is a position from which players expect to see stealing plays. When any cutoff player raises, the small blind (SB), the big blind (BB), and the button may have doubts, as opening raises among the cutoffs to steal blinds have also grown in popularity over the years. However, the waters of motive get a bit murkier from the hijack seat, as this position is far enough away from the button to allow other players to see a hijack seat raise as possibly more legitimate.
Entering the pot with a wide range is typically advisable when you find yourself in the hijack seat, even though lucrative scenarios certainly can pop up. You can bump into a premium holding fairly commonly, as there will be four players acting after the hijack seat pre-flop. If you get action from the cutoff and button, you will generally also find yourself out of position post-flop. However, should the cutoff and button both fold, the hijack seat gets to play in position against the blinds, which can be beneficial.
A few key features to learn and remember about the hijack seat:
- Your cold calls can get very easily squeezed or overcalled.
- You will act fifth-from-last pre-flop.
- You are highly likely to be out of position post-flop.
- You will more often than not confront strong open raising ranges.
- You will have limited access to the blinds because of the presence of the cutoff and button.
- You are considered the first in the category of “middle positions” at any table (short-handed or full-ring).
Aggressive play can sometimes represent a challenge for the hijack seat, as attacking open raises from earlier positions is always iffy. Cold calling and 3-betting should be utilized sparingly and with consideration of premium holdings when in this seat.
For example, if a person in the hijack seat decided to 3-bet the cutoff, this can result in the button, small blind, or big blind deciding to cold-4-bet pre-flop. Unless you have premium holdings, this would not be to your advantage. To prevent or best control these types of unstable scenarios, it is advisable to play a more reserved strategy when in the hijack seat.
Why Is This Position in Poker So Important?
Position awareness for poker players can be likened to an airplane pilot’s grasp of altitude and distance. Just as a pilot must gauge the longitude and latitude of the plane in relation to everything surrounding the plane, poker players must gauge their position at the table and how it relates to that of every other player at the table. The seat you have at a poker table can be every bit as important, if not even more important, than the cards you hold in your hands.
In the standard and accepted rules of poker, players have the “position” on competitors who are acting before them (early) and are considered “out of position” with regard to players acting after (late of) their own hand. This is so because the large majority of information you can gain about your opponents is restricted exclusively to their actions and the behavior they exhibit. A player seated in an early position operates with no information whatsoever about their opponents. In contrast, a player seated later in the table has more to go on by virtue of having watched any players ahead of them.
A player with good positional awareness is always trying to play the least amount of hands when out of position and more hands when in position. Being in position means it is easier to value bet and also to bluff.
As the early positions at a poker table make it exceedingly difficult to play hands out of position, the money in a poker game tends to flow clockwise in the direction of the button. Playing strong hands “out of position” means focusing what may seem to be counterintuitively on the late positions of the cutoff and the button.
The benefits of being in position and having the privilege to act last can be powerful because you can see what your competitors do before you make your own actions. It allows you more information within the hand than the other players possess. Being the final person able to act within a hand also gives you additional power over the manner in which the hand is played, as you can choose to raise, call, or fold with greater ease than someone in an earlier seat.
Because an early seat is a positional disadvantage, players in early seats require a stronger range of pre-flop starting hands. You can afford to be more speculative when you are in a late position for the opposite reason. Utilizing positional awareness means that you know how to play a larger spectrum of hands when you are in position and a stronger spectrum of hands when you are out of position.
Neglecting to factor in some sort of positional strategy into your poker game represents a waste of one of the most valuable assets you have at your disposal in an effort to win.
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