What Is the Hijack Seat in Poker and How Can You Best Use It?
If you are a poker enthusiast who is still learning the game, then there is every chance that you have heard of the term “hijack seat” but may not understand it. Don’t worry if you have absolutely no idea what it means, as you have arrived in the right place. This article will teach you all you need to know about the hijack seat, including what it is and how you can utilize it to improve your chances of winning.
What Is the Hijack Seat?
Quite simply, the hijack seat is the player who is sitting two seats to the right of the button and one seat to the right of the cutoff. If the table has six seats, then the hijack seat would be referred to as the “middle position” (MP). If that still isn’t clear, the button is the term used to refer to the dealer, who will bet last, while the cutoff is the player directly to the right of the button, i.e. the penultimate betting position. (In poker, the betting action moves left around the table from the button).
In a full-ring game (a game where every seat at the table is taken) of Omaha or Texas Hold’em, the hijack seat is considered a late position. Most often, you will only hear the term “hijack seat” in full-ring games.
The term came into existence due to the trend of automatic-button raises becoming common, which meant that cutoff players were raising larger amounts. The cutoff player’s raises are generally viewed as strong, which meant that the player in the hijack position had a unique opportunity. It gives the player in front of the cutoff and button positions the chance to show strength by raising ahead of both of them in order to try to steal blinds.
In other words, the player in the hijack seat is able to raise with a weaker hand in the hope that it may cause the cutoff and button players to reconsider their own raises if they, too, have weak hands. By doing so, the hijack player is able to “hijack” the advantage and steal the blinds.
How Can You Make the Most of the Hijack Seat?
Every time that the button raises, the rest of the players at the table tend to become suspicious as it could mean that they are trying to steal (bluff in order to make strong players fold). If a cutoff player raises, the button, small blind and big blind may also become suspicious as over the years, it has become quite common for cutoff players to steal blinds with their opening raises. However, from the hijack seat, the motive is more obscured. This is because, as it is far from the button, it could be legitimate.
If you are in the hijack seat, it is normally a good idea to enter the pot with a wide range, even though there may be profitable situations from time to time. It is quite common to find a premium, as there are four players after the hijack seat who will act pre-flop. If there is betting action from both the cutoff and button, then the hijack seat will often be out of position post-flop. However, if both the cutoff and the button fold, then the hijack seat will be in position to play against the blinds, which can be very beneficial. There are a few things about the hijack seat that are worth committing to memory:
- First, cold calls can very easily be squeezed or overcalled.
- Second, pre-flop you will act fifth-from-last.
- Third, there is a very good chance that you will be out of position post-flop.
- Fourth, very often you will come up against strong opening raising.
- Fifth, you will have limited access to the blinds due to the cutoff and button.
- Finally, the seat is the first in the category of “middle position” at all tables.
When playing in the hijack seat at online casinos, aggressive play can be a bit of a challenge, as big opening raises from earlier positions are always difficult. Furthermore, you should be careful with cold calling and 3-betting (being the third player to bet) in the hijack seat and keep premium hands in mind.
For instance, if the player in the hijack seat chose to 3-bet the cutoff, it could lead to the button, small blind, or big blind, deciding to cold-4-bet pre-flop. Unless the hijack seat has a premium hand, this would not be a good thing. In order to try to avoid this type of scenario, it is best to play with caution when in the hijack seat.
Why is the Hijack Seat so Important?
Position is an essential part of poker and where you sit has a big impact on tactics. Players need to be aware of where they are in relation to others and the ways in which this will affect strategy. In some ways, your position at a poker table is just as important as the cards you are holding, so it is vital that you are aware of it.
When playing according to the standard rules, players are said to have the “position” on those who act before them (early) and are said to be “out of position” on the players who act after them (late). This is because most of the information you are able to gain about opponents comes from their actions and behavior, which can only influence your play if it comes before you. Therefore, a player in an early position has very little information about their opponents, while a player in a late position will have considerably more data to work with.
As a general rule, a player who is aware of their position will attempt to play as few hands as possible when out of position and as many as possible when in position. When you are in position, it will be easier to evaluate your bets and also to bluff.
Because of the fact that early positions at a poker table can make it very difficult to play hands out of position, the money in a poker game usually goes clockwise in the direction of the button. If you are playing a strong hand when “out of position,” it means that counterintuitively, you will be focusing on the late positions of the cutoff and the button.
Benefits of the Hijack Seat
There are significant benefits to being in position and acting late in a game. By seeing what your opponents are doing before you play, you will have significantly more information. Therefore, the final person to act in a hand is the strongest position, and it also gives the player real control over how the hand is played out. This is because it is easier to decide whether to raise, call or fold.
Conversely, because being in an early seat is a disadvantage, the players in those positions will need a stronger range of pre-flop starting hands. By the same logic, in a late position there is room to be more speculative. In short, being aware of your position at a poker table will mean that you play a larger range of hands when in position and a stronger but smaller range of hands when out of position.
The hijack seat is just one position at the table, but as explained, it has its own set of advantages. By understanding this, you can begin to make use of positional strategy when playing, and this should lead to considerably more success.