After a while of playing poker, you are bound to learn all the essential terms, and even get some more advanced lingo added to your vocabulary. One of those advanced moves is of course, the “hijack seat,” a creative technique both praised by the beneficiary and loathed by those who play against it.
The “hijack seat” is a late position in the game, and it sits immediately before the “cutoff,” and two seats away from the “button.”
Initially, this position didn’t start as the hijack seat, but the move earned some notoriety for its evident premeditation and unfair advantage delivered by the player who executes it.
The “Hijack Seat”, What Does it Mean for the Player?
Poker is a game that boils down to having as much information as you can before acting. You will see players fold often, and especially experienced players who know that they are in no position to collect enough information and play accordingly. That is why the hijack seat is considered such a significant advantage.
A full round is almost over when a player joins and sits down, becoming a “hijacker.” He can read the table for a few rounds at least and play from a position of strength. This move, no doubt, is valuable, and it creates great opportunities for the player executing it, apart from winning them some bad fame.
The hijack seat can steal the blinds before them, which is another advantage that most players would be happy to be on the receiving end of. Overall, a hijack seat can be any of the two or three last positions counter-clockwise from the button, giving you the ability to read the game.
Some players may be hijack players, jumping from one table to the next and trying only to play their advantageous hands and pack up and leave after turning a small profit. The considerable advantage is to jump at the end and raise with a weaker hand, forcing the “cutoff” and “button” seats to give their play another thought before committing.
The Hijack Seat is a strong position, as the player has been able to read the table before joining a game.
Of course, this is all about mind games, and sooner or later, people will adapt to this playstyle. However, the upside is there. Raising the blinds is a bold move, especially when you consider the sheer probabilities in games like Texas Hold’em. We will mention probabilities later as well, but first, let’s see how most people use the hijack seat.
How’s the Hijack Seat Usually Used?
The hijack seat isn’t that complicated to execute. All you need to do is bid your time and wait for an opening. Once you sit in the designated hijack spots, you will have the opportunity to read the table. Furthermore, you will be able to make decisions that are advantageous to the point where you can collect more information than your opponents.
Of course, as the game progresses, and the blinds shift, you will notice that sooner or later, someone might end up doing the same of you. Another hijacker might appear. Now, when you have to play against one, it’s undoubtedly a bit of a challenge.
After all, that person just did what you came here to do, but you needn’t despair. If you do play poker without bluffing and focusing on your cards and probabilities, you are still in an excellent position. Hijackers can only work against opponents who are not as confident in their cards in the first place. Sure, there are mind games in poker, but you can’t rely on them all the time.
Of course, if the players know each other, and hijack in a familiar setting, they will have the advantage of knowing how different players respond to different stimuli.
Downsides of Using the Hijack Seat
Now, the hijack seat is a great move, and it gives you a lot of advantage in the sense you have some wiggle room to bluff, intimidate, and collect valuable information. Since you have been on both sides of the hijack seat, though, you are well aware that most of the time, hijackers are just trying to bluff. Well, you can’t bluff a machine, but a human? We think so.
Most poker players are aware that good and bad beats happen, and sitting down to gain an advantage in the hijack seat can often be a flip of the coin. Players who tend to fare better in poker overall will usually agree that things are better not left to chance, and that’s why they only play the hijack seat and raise when their cards are perfect.
In essence, the hijack seat is a fantastic strategy, but only insofar as you have the cards to back it up. Playing anything is a gamble, and poker players try to minimize the luck factor as much as they can.
Keep in Mind the Probabilities
If there’s one rule that’s true for competitive Texas Hold’em poker, that is the extraordinary pace with which probabilities shift. In other words, collecting information is fantastic. Still, to truly benefit from the hijack seat and go on a little more than a hunch or a simple strategy of intimidation, you will want to know how to read into those probabilities.
You also have to keep in mind the other players whom you are playing against. A pro player such as Doug Polk can read your hand within a bet or two. In fact, Doug Polk beats poker bots, so you shouldn’t feel too bad about his ability to read you like an open book.
In other words, the hijack seat is an excellent way and strategy, but you should also recognize that for this stratagem to work, you will have to rely on a little more than having the upper hand by sitting in the best spot on the table.
OPA Tip: Make sure to not relie on chance alone. Learn different strategies so you can adept when needed.
Remember, everything in a game of poker is fluid. You need to learn and adapt. While you may have the advantage for two or three hands, you will soon realize that this advantage has been short-lived. You are no longer the hijacker, and the element of the surprise is gone.
What you have to rely on now is your pure understanding of the game. Learn all your can about poker and go with your gut.
If you want to know more about what goes into a game of poker check out our Ultimate Poker Strategy Guide page.