Poker Positions: Their Names and Origins

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Poker experts might use a lot of nicknames and abbreviations for different positions and seats at the poker table. UTG, cutoff, the hijack, and others are all things that the casual player might not understand. Here they are gathered together so we can go around the table and learn each position's nickname when they have one. These are for a ten-handed table but will also work nine-handed, as the middle positions are kind of lumped together, and the others count out from the button in either direction.

Early Position

The first four seats to the left of the big blind are collectively called Early Position, which is often abbreviated as "ep" in shorthand or internet poker conversations.

Seat 1: Directly to the left of the button

Name: Small Blind

Abbreviations: SB, sb

We all know the names of the blinds, but you have to start somewhere. The small blind, though it acts second to last on the opening round, has to act first in every subsequent round. Add to that the fact that you have to pay money blind for the privilege of sitting here makes this the worst position at the table.

Seat 2: Directly to the left of the small blind

Name: Big Blind

Abbreviations: BB, bb

Paying double the small blind is bad, but at least you have position on one person at the table, and you get to act last pre-flop. Still, having to put money in blind guarantees that you will always be a long term loser in this seat; you just have to try to lose as little as possible.

Seat 3: Directly to the left of the big blind

Names: Under the Gun, First Position (rarely used)

Abbreviations: UTG, utg

The term under the gun didn't originate with poker. It is actually from medieval times when infantry storming a castle's walls would be literally "under the guns" of the defenders when they did their bloody work.

Seat 4: Directly to the left of under the gun

Name: Under the Gun Plus One

Abbreviations: UTG+1, utg+1

This one is as self-explanatory as it gets.

Middle Position

The next three seats are collectively known as middle position and less often referred to by specific names. On occasion, you will hear reference to "early middle" or "late middle" position, but those can be pretty amorphous. "MP" is used to denote in shorthand.

Seat 5: Directly to the left of under the gun plus one

Names: Under the Gun Plus Two, Early Middle Position, Early Middle

Abbreviations: UTG+2, utg+2

Under the gun plus two. Real creative, guys.

Seat 6: Directly to the left of under the gun plus two

Name: Middle position

Abbreviations: MP, mp

Since the seat name and the area name are the same, this lonely seat kind of gets lost in the mix.

Seat 7: Directly to the left of middle position

Names: Middle Position, Late Middle, Late Middle Position

Abbreviations: MP, mp

This seat doesn't exist in a nine-handed game, and like above, mostly gets lumped in as middle position or late middle position when referred to.

Late Position

The last three positions are counted backwards from the button and are excellent places to play cards from.

Seat 8: Two to the Right of the Dealer (seat 7 in a nine-handed game)

Name: The Hijack

Abbreviations: None known

With button and cutoff steals so common, this seat became known as the hijack when players in this position began "hijacking" the two later seat's action and stealing the blinds before them.

Seat 9: Directly to the Right of the Dealer (seat 8 in a nine-handed game)

Name: The Cutoff

Abbreviations: CO, co

It has been posited that this seat gained its name by being the seat that cut the cards when the actual deal passed around, rather than a button denoting where the dealer would be.

Set 10: The Dealer (seat 9 in a nine-handed game)

Names: The Button, On the Button, Dealer, Dealer Button

Abbreviations: BTN, btn

The most advantageous position in poker. In a home game, you know you're on the button because you're holding the deck. In a card room, there will be a big plastic disc that says "Dealer".