The acronym UTG is often seen in television broadcasts of tournaments and the expression is often heard during the preflop round, but what exactly is UTG in poker and what does this designation entail?
UTG in poker corresponds to the expression “Under The Gun”, which gives its name to one of the positions at the table during preflop. During the early stages of a poker game, the UTG is assigned to the player sitting immediately after the blinds.
Many claim that the name comes from the Wild West tradition, but today the name also fits the player’s situation because the UTG is the one who opens the round of each hand at the start of each game during preflop. This puts him at a clear disadvantage, since he does not know the possible hands that the other players may have, always acting blind.
Under The Gun has been adopted in Spanish as any other anglicism and, since there is no specific translation to refer to the player who occupies the UTG position in poker -and taking into account that there are accepted terms such as UTG +1, Hijack and similar-, it is better to keep the term so that there are no doubts about the position we are referring to.
In order for you to know more about the Under The Gun, we are going to explain what UTG is in poker, where it comes from and what is the best way to play from this position.
What does UTG mean in poker and where does the term come from?
As we mentioned at the beginning, Under The Gun is what UTG means in poker, a delicate position that almost nobody likes. Its literal translation would be “under the gun”, which refers to the situation of pressure that this player lives by being the first to speak without having any information. However, much has been said about the origin of this term.
The version of the great pressure to which the UTG player is subjected is accepted today, although the doubt is whether this was the origin of the term. Many defend the theory that it comes from the poker tradition of the Wild West, when poker was played in much more hostile environments and the dealer would take out a revolver to aim it at the first to speak. In this era, poker was not even played with today’s variants: before, games based on Five Card Stud and Five Card Draw prevailed.
In essence, both in the Wild West and today, there is a consensus about the risky position occupied by this player. His pressure could come from being threatened with death by the dealer or from speaking first without having any information and, therefore, a greater chance of losing. Perhaps it could be both, although what it means to be the UTG in poker today has little to do with what poker in America was like a few decades ago.
What are the strategic implications of UTG?
From a theoretical point of view, in any poker game the UTG is the player who is most at a disadvantage because he is the one who has to start the game with no idea what kind of cards his opponents may have. The player who occupies the Under The Gun position goes totally blind, without any kind of information, which puts him in a somewhat delicate situation.
So, you know what it means to be the UTG in poker: if you are the UTG, you speak first in preflop, you have no information and you will have to choose your plays wisely to avoid flops, turns and rivers of the games to get you right away.
Professional players are able to understand what kind of play characterizes the UTG with just a few rolls of the dice. Moreover, the smartest ones even manage to profit and win more money by adjusting the strategy from the UTG position, which is really complicated.
The UTG designation in poker does not only refer to the position immediately after the blinds. In some forms it can also refer to the positions immediately after the UTG. At a table of six players, the UTG +1 is the Hijack. The UTG +2 at a six-player table would be the cut-off, while at an eight-player table it is called the Lojack. And the same happens with the UTG +3, also called Lowjack. At a table of six players, the one that occupies the third position to the right of the UTG is the button.
Tips for playing poker from the UTG position
Occupying the UTG position can be tricky, especially if you are not very experienced in taking advantage of being the first to talk. There is a very old trick to win against players who do not have too much level from the UTG: the trick is to call or raise the minimum from UTG with a very strong hand, and wait for the cut-off or button to re-raise the bet.
This opens the door to re-raise the bet from UTG forming a considerable pot, something especially useful against fish players. However, against expert players this tactic is useless because as soon as they detect your monster hand they will start to call you with hands capable of KOing your monster hand.
Another trick to play good poker from UTG is to make more 4-bet bets. This serves to prevent your game from being repetitive and easy to get caught, avoiding being labeled as the player who only raises with top hands. And you should keep in mind that if you get 3-bet many times, playing without position can be a bit tricky.
On the other hand, a 4-bet can put an opponent in a compromising position because, in case of a call, the pot would be too big and they could fold on almost any flop.
This, in a 5-bet, can be somewhat more complicated because if we have a strong hand we will end up all in preflop. The moral is to mix up the game and incorporate some weaker hands into your 4-bet range as a blocker.
If we play UTG poker and we have a powerful hand, we will raise. Even assuming we have to go all-in if someone re-raises or folds. In addition, looking for the call can be a very good idea because it can lead to very particular situations that unsettle the opponents, losing the reading of what is happening at the table.
With how difficult it is to be the UTG in poker, these tricks can be of great help to take full advantage of one of the most difficult positions at the poker table. In case there are more UTGs, things change and it is possible that flops, turns and rivers are less voracious at the beginning, although here the main disadvantage is that the UTG does not even know any information about the UTG +1, +2 and +3.