Every poker book you ever read, every forum you go on, all suggest the same thing, position is really important in poker. By inference this also implies that playing cards in position will give the player "in position", a higher EV over time than the players playing out of position.
The problem I have with the "position is everything" hypothesis is that no one to my knowledge has actually proven that position really matters and gives you a higher EV by playing a hand on the button vs. UTG or any other position in a 4,5,6,9 or 10 handed game. The proof would in fact be relatively easy to conduct. Marsh, myself, Ryan, Joe Sola, Woody, Phil Ivey, Tom Dwan, and many others have played a statistically significant number of hands on line with all of the data captured in a hand history analysis. Why don't any of the poker mathematical geniuses like Caro, Ferguson or other smart mathematical minds (Ryan), go back, mine the data, and then prove whether the data support the theory that the button gives a higher EV than any other position.
I think everyone would agree that they would rather play AK suited (a hand everyone plays) from the button vs. UTG. But what really happens in practice? In practice players are much more nitty (in general) playing from early position than from late position and consequently play hands with greater showdown value from early position vs. late position.
I bring this up because I have a feeling, though I am too ADD to go back and mine the data, that my early position holdings in Omaha give me a greater EV than late position or button holdings. Several reasons I think. I am really nitty in early position. In Omaha, showdowns are much more common than in NLHE, so nittiness pays. Many players hate being check raised in Omaha and just call you down with mediocre holdings. I check raise plenty in Omaha but virtually always have the goods. In a double checked around pot, I will often bet out with air from early position prior to the button (likely also with air) stealing the pot from the late position player.
Similar phenomenon happen in NLHE I think. Jeh and I had some interesting hands between us (as always) and although far from statistically significant, this is how they played out.
My stack 47 chips. Jeh's stack, a gazillion chips, Adam's stack, about 200 chips. My position, button, Jeh small blind, Adam BB. Chuck and Fred fold. I raise from the button with J9os to our standard table raise 7 chips. Why? I have the button, this is one of Jeh's favorite hands (a good hand to try to beat him with), and I raise alot in case anyone has not noticed. Jeh calls, and Adam calls.
Flop is T,4,4 rainbow. Jeh checks, Adam checks and I think this is a good flop for me. Why? I have a history of always having a 4 and have a favorite hand with a 4 in it so I can sell the 4. Plus I am pretty sure no one will call me unless they have a 4, possibly a T, or an overpair which is highly unlikely given the lack of a repop preflop. Worst case, I have runner runner straight and I always count my runner runners as at least a 1/2 an out. I shove all in from the button.
Jeh calls pretty quickly, and Adam raises to 120. Jeh goes into the tank for about 3 minutes, and finally decides to go all in. Adam calls pretty quickly. Well, I am pretty sure one of these guys has a Jason 4.
Jeh tables AA, explaining his in the tank dilemna, Adam tables 3,4 suited and I pray for my runner runner. Turn is a K, a good card but the river is a J.
Moral of the story, from my perspective, the psychological "value" associated with the button cost me my short stack. I am pretty sure that the hand would have played out entirely differently if we all had the same hands with the same flop had I been in a different position other than the button.
4 handed Jeh and I have just rebought and have roughly equal full buyin stacks. I raise UTG to 7. Jeh calls from the "button" with 2,3 (I assume suited). Let's look at the hand from Jeh's perspective as he has the valuable "button." Jeh likes 2,3 one of his favorite hands. Jeh also likes to try to outplay me and figures he has a much better chance of doing so from "the button."
Flop is T,J, A with 2 clubs. I check Jeh checks. Turn is a J. I check Jeh bets 10, I think and then raise to 27. Jeh, relatively quickly raises to 65. I think for a bit then call the 65. River is the 9 of diamonds. I move in and Jeh of course has to muck. It turns out that Jeh pulled the worst possible time to try to pull another K8 style bluff as I had JJ for the nuts and threw it on the table face up.
Point is Jeh is much more likely to try to pull this multistage bluff from the button, and it is debatable if this is profitable (although if anyone can do it, Jeh can).
Final hand though not from last night was the only big hand I can ever remember Jeh losing in Vegas. Jeh has one of his usual garbage favorite hands that he typically folds in Vegas but decided to play it because he had the button. I think it was 2,6 suited. He tried a multi stage bluff which of course is typically not profitable at 1/2 in Vegas. Hand had no showdown value and he loses a big pot.
I realize the button can be wonderful when people are betting into you and you have great made hands. But too often I think players get trapped into the psychology of "I have the button", I am not going to lose and make either unprofitable EV plays or play too many holdings with limited showdown value.
UTG is my new "button" type preferred position. Anyone wish to join me?