The best position while playing no limit Texas holdem is the button. You have more information than any of your opponents when it’s your turn to act.

Your advantages include the ability to call or raise a previous bet, or check to see a free card or raise when it’s checked to you. The button is the most profitable pre-flop position at the table.

Of course you want to take advantage of your position as often as possible. Every decision you make at the poker table either makes you more money in the long run or makes you less money in the long run.

Let’s look at a specific situation to see how to play to make as much profit as possible. What is the best way to play the button in an unraised pot?

When You Have a Strong Hand

When you have a strong hand from the button in an unraised pot you should raise most of the time. The only times I don’t raise in this situation is if the only players left are the blinds and I’m strong enough that I want one or both of them to play. A pair of aces or kings are generally the only hands I consider doing this with and I still usually raise with them.

When You Have a Medium Hand

When you have a medium hand from the button you should never fold in an unraised pot. You need to either call or raise.

Medium hands include medium to small pairs and other playable hands that aren’t usually suited and don’t include an ace.

When you have quite a few opponents and want to play for a big hand you should call in order to keep as many people in the pot as possible. For example, if you have a pair of eights and only plan to keep playing when you hit a set you should call.

Otherwise you should raise. All of the things covered in the next section that can happen when you raise are the same that can happen in this situation.

When You Have a Weak Hand

A weak hand on the button in an unraised pot is the only hand that doesn’t have a clear cut play. Most players fold their weakest hands, even from the button. Folding is not the wrong play for many players, but even weak hands can be played profitably from late position.

You have three options in this position. You can fold, call or raise. Folding assures that you won’t lose any money on the hand, but remember every decision is either the most profitable one or it isn’t. In other words, if you can play the hand for a profit in the long run by calling or raising then folding is the wrong play.

Calling is the weakest play because on average you will be an underdog every time you play. Entering pots with a worse hand on average than your opponents is a sure way to lose money in the long run. The best players enter pots with better hands than their opponents on average.

Even though most answers to questions in poker start with “it depends”, if there’s a 100% sure thing answer this qualifies.

Never call with a weak hand in an unraised pot from the button (or anywhere else) while playing Texas holdem.

I included no limit before Texas holdem when I first wrote the previous statement, but the advice is good for any type of holdem including limit and pot limit.

If you play a weak hand from the button in no limit Texas holdem you need to raise. Raising accomplishes many good things for you in this position.

You may win the pot immediately if all of your opponents fold. The more of your opponents who limped in, the less likely they will all fold to a raise, but it’s still the best play.

If an opponent who limped re-raises your raise you can safely fold. When this happens, unless your opponent can read you like an open book, there is no doubt he has a much stronger hand. If your opponent can read you that well you should stop playing poker until you can camouflage your play better or find another hobby.

Don’t even consider calling a raise or re-raising. The best poker players pick the spots where they have the best chance to win. This isn’t one of them. As a matter of fact, you can record this as the second 100% answer in the last few minutes.

If you get re-raised after raising an unraised pot from the button at the Texas holdem table with a weak hand you need to fold 100% of the time.

Even when you have one or more opponents call your raise, you have shown strength and may get them to fold with another bet after the flop. Your opponents don’t know how weak your hand is so you need to continue playing as if it’s a monster until an opponent makes you stop.

When your hand doesn’t improve and an opponent (or opponents) calls a continuation bet on the flop, I check or fold the rest of the hand unless I have a very strong read on my opponent. If they call a raise before the flop and a continuation bet after the flop they have a hand that I don’t want to show down against.

Though it won’t happen often, you will even hit a big hand on the flop from time to time. Even seven two off suite flops trips or two pair sometimes.


You always need to know as much about your opponents as possible because it helps you make smart decisions at the poker table. Playing from the button in an unraised pot is a perfect example of where knowing your opponents will help you decide what to do.

If you feel your most profitable play is to always fold your weakest hands then keep doing whatever works for you. Otherwise, start looking for situations where you may be able to improve your overall profit. Learning how to play from the button in unraised pots is a great place to start.

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