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Talking Poker: Under the Gun

Under the Gun

Each week, the Talking Poker series will highlight a particular poker term. We’ll give you a clear, to-the-point definition of the term and an example of the strategic concept to which it refers, so that you can start using the term and implementing the related strategy into your game. This week we focus on a term referring to one of the positions at the table — “under the gun.”


“Under the gun” (or “UTG”) refers to the position to the immediate left of the big blind in flop games like hold’em and Omaha. The under-the-gun player is the first to act before the flop. The term refers to the pressure that goes along with having to act before anyone else in the hand.


Player A is directly to the left of the button and posts the small blind. Player B is on the left of Player A and posts the big blind. Player C sits to the left of Player A. The cards are dealt and Player C, playing under the gun, acts first.

Strategic Considerations

Pros generally advise players to play tighter in early position, especially when under the gun. The reason is that the rest of the table gets to act after you preflop, then after the flop all players who are not in the blinds who choose to play the hand will continue to have a positional advantage on you throughout.

Because the under-the-gun player is at a huge positional disadvantage, he or she can gain back some edge back by playing a better range of hands. For example, instead of raising with a hand like {K-Hearts}{10-Hearts} as a player might do when opening from the button, the under-the-gun player should instead be inclined to fold such a hand.

Watch and Learn

For more about playing from under the gun, here is a video by PokerXFactor coach Chris Wallace in which he presents a formula by which to guide starting hand selection from early position in cash games, including when playing UTG:

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