Definition of The Button
What is the Button?
The button is a marker used to indicate who the "dealer" in the current hand is.
Obviously in a casino game, players don't deal their own cards, so the button indicates the player who is set to act last after the cards are dealt.
In a home game, the player with the button (aka buck, aka dealer button) deals the cards.
After the cards are dealt, the dealer is the third to last player to act (pre-flop). The player in the "small blind" is second to last to act, while the player in the "big blind" is the last player to act.
After the flop is seen, the player with the button is the last to act in any of the remaining "streets". The small blind is now the first to act, while the big blind is the second to act.
Having the "button" is a huge advantage in poker, and is the most desirable position to be in. The "button" has the benefit of seeing how all of the other players at the table react before deciding on his own action.
Example: The flop comes A-K-Q. There are six players left in the hand, and the button is holding A-9.
A player in early position bets out 500. After his bet, there is a raise, and then a re-raise after that.
The button holds top pair, but can easily determine that he is way behind in the hand and folds.
The "button" can also use his position to pick up uncontested pots.
Example II: There are three players in the hand after the flop. The flop comes 5-7-3. The action is checked around to the button, who holds A-J. He doesn't have any piece of the flop, but decides to put out a bet anyways. The other two players fold, and the button picks up the pot.
The "button" can also use his positional advantage to pick up the blinds pre-flop.
Example III: The action folds around to the button pre-flop, who holds J-4 offsuit.
He has determined that the players in the small and big blinds are very weak-tight. He puts in a bet of 3x the big blind, and both players fold.
The button used his positional advantage to pick up the blinds, even though he had a very weak hand.
Illustrating the Importance of Position
Example IV. A player in early position raises holding pocket fives. Two players, including the "button", call the raise.
The flop comes 7-J-Q. The player in early position leads out with a bet. The button raises.
Now what does the player in early position do? They will likely have to give up on the hand, illustrating the power of position.
Texas Holdem King articles that mention The Button:
Who is the Best Shorted Handed Limit Player Online?