UTG: Under the Gun Position in Poker

The Earliest Position and First to Play Before the Flop

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The under the gun position in poker is the player in the earliest position, the one required to act first. It is abbreviated as UTG.

In games with blinds, such as Texas Hold'em or Omaha, it is the player seated just to the left of the big blind. The under the gun player must act first pre-flop in a game with blinds. After the flop, the under the gun player is then the third to act, after the small blind and big blind.

UTG is also used as a shorthand for the other early positions, with UTG+1 being the next player to the left of the under the gun position, UTG+2 the second player to the left, and UTG+3 the third player to the left.

Disadvantages of the Under the Gun Position

The term under the gun implies that you are under pressure, and that is true for this position. Everyone is awaiting your play before the flop and you don't know what the others are planning to do.

Pre-flop, all of the players at the table will have the option to call, raise, or fold after the UTG position. When you are in this position, you have no information about the strength of the hands of the other players. You don't know whether any of the other players will be calling, raising, or folding, and how many will still be in the hand after the flop.

If you raise under the gun, other players may see this as a signal of a very strong hand and may decide to fold, so you may not get any action. The action you get is liable to be from players who also think they have a strong hand.

After the flop, the under the gun player is still in an early position but may act second or third if either or both of the blinds are still in the hand. The UTG player won't have as much information as any player that follows him in the action, but has more than the blinds.

Playing in the Under the Gun Position

Many players will adopt a tighter strategy when they are in the early positions, especially in the UTG position.You might decide to only call or raise value hands, and a narrower range of hands. However, the other players will probably expect tighter play from you in UTG position and will judge their own play accordingly.

Some strategists say to always raise under the gun rather than call. If you're playing tight, it can make more sense to bet aggressively or simply fold rather than calling and potentially allowing the big blind to limp in and benefit from a lucky flop.

If you are short-stacked, the UTG position can be an opportunity to go all-in and steal the blinds, especially if you receive a good hand. Even with no action, you at least get enough to cover the blinds through the next two hands.

In games that allow straddling, it is often limited to the under the gun position. In a straddle, you would bet twice the big blind before being dealt cards, and you then become the last to act rather than the first to act pre-flop.