At a poker table, the first three closest positions to the left of the button are called early position. These positions are directly to the left of the dealer’s button and are usually referred to as UTG and UTG+1. At a full ring 10 player table, the early positions consist of UTG, UTG+1 and UTG+2.
When playing hands in early position, most players will be raising a fairly narrow range of hands, as you are in a weak position. You have no idea what others around the table have, but must bet solely on the strength of your hand. In this position, you will only want to raise pre-flop with extremely strong hands like AK, AQ, and big pairs.
You are in the worst possible position, so you must counteract that disadvantage by playing only the strongest hands. Hence, why early position raises always get a lot of credit. If you have speculative hands in early position (like small pairs and suited connectors), these starting hands aren’t very good on their own, so you want to try and see a cheap flop and build a bigger pot when you make a strong hand. You want to sometimes raise with speculative hands in early position for deception, but that’s a topic for another article.