Published on
Update on

The under the gun poker position is one that is located directly to the left of the player in the Big Blind. Even for newbies, the under the gun meaning, UTG is a pretty basic concept since it refers to the first player to act in a hand pre-flop.

It is usually a very disadvantageous position for the player at that seat since every other player will get to act after them. That said, to remain in the hand, the UTG player will need a powerful holding. Fortunately, the UTG position shifts one position in a clockwise manner once every round comes to an end.

Example of playing Under the Gun Position

Players who are in the Under the Gun (UTG) position are often under a lot of pressure, and this simply because it is a disadvantageous position. To put this into perspective, we can have a look at an example of someone playing in that position.

Image of UTG poker player checking his cards

So, suppose you are in the Under the Gun position and you are dealt pocket nines pre-flop, and you choose to raise the pocket pair to 3 times the Big Blind. When that happens, a player in the middle position is very likely to re-raise you. The Small Blind also pushes all-In after that.

When that happens, the only option that you are going to be faced with is a re-raise, which will then be followed by a subsequent all-in move. The initially strong hands that you had now become decidedly weaker thanks to the decisive actions that were made behind you. At this point, you are very likely to fold the hand since it will be highly likely that you are behind in that hand.

Even if you can convince the other players at the table that you are a tight, passive player, they are almost always going to believe you have pairs like KK or AA. The dilemma that comes with not knowing what exactly is the best way to play is what makes this position such a tough one.

Strategic Considerations

When in the UTG position, it is usually best to play as tight as possible in the initial part, according to the experts. As all players that are not in the blinds choose to play a hand, they will always have an advantage over you.

Image of UTG poker player at a poker table

Now, since the UTG player is at a significant disadvantage, it would be best to try and gain back some edge over other players. This can be done by sticking to a better range of hands. For instance, if you happen to land a big hand like KK or AA while Under the Gun, it would be wise to limp it. This is because there is a chance that someone will raise, thus putting you in a much better position.

If you are playing in a 9-handed game, try to open only about 10 percent of the starting hands in the UTG position. This can rise to 15 percent of the starting hands if you are playing a 6-handed game in the UTG position. Basically, from under the gun, you should only play premium hands like AA, AQ, or KQ. If you happen to have AA, KK, QQ, or AK, be sure to lime at loose tables and raise at the tight tables. We would recommend limping with any other starting hands.

Solid Under the Gun Preflop Ranges

To help your further, some of the solid preflop ranges that you should consider in the UTG position include:

  • 22+
  • Suited broadway cards (e.g., AKs, QJs, KQs)
  • 89s+ (shorthanded games only)
  • AJo+
  • KQo

As you can see, the only advantage you have when under the gun comes from the value of the cards in your hand. Playing these cards appropriately is the only thing that can keep you in the hand – be very aggressive with your high ranking hands. That means that you should probably save the loose play for a different round when you are in the late position.

UTG: Full-Ring vs. Shorthand

The UTG position can be found in both full-ring and shorthanded poker games. In full ring games, it can be multiple positions after the Big Blind (UTG, UTG +1, UTG + 2, UTG +3, UTG +5) while in shorthanded or 6-max games, it is the position that is located to the left of the Big Blind. As a matter of fact, the UTG position represents the critical difference between the full-ring and shorthand games.

Image of the Under the Gun poker position on a full ring table
Here is what a full-ring table can look like, with more then 1 UTG position.

For really shorthanded games with just 4 or 5 seats, the Under the Gun position is usually substituted with other position titles that are found to the immediate left of the Big Blind, that is, the Hijack and Cutoff.

Image of Under the Gun position in shorthand poker
This is what the UTG position would be in a shorthand poker game.