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The Straddle

edited August 2017 in General Poker Questions

I need some help understanding the Straddle. I'v never really understood this move at all. I've seen it played many times in cash games and I was just watching some Poker After Dark on PokerGo and watched Doyle Brunson Straddle play, so there must be some utility to this and strategy.

Any help out there??


  • pgearan

    Mostly from what I have read the UTG straddle (as opposed to less common button Mississippi straddle - not allowed in many card rooms) is considered a negative EV play but as you say it is played commonly in small games as well as big televised cash games. The one advantage is that the straddle has the option to act last preflop now, but that benefit is generally outweighed by putting in a raise on a random hand. And of course, most skilled players at a table against a constant straddler should be able to carve out value from this in one way or another - depending on how the straddler responds to 3-betting.

    For me, it always seems like it pulls for the side of poker players who want to "gamble" for bigger stakes, even pros who should know better. Or there is the "fun" factor of "hey, let's play a round where everyone staddles" kind of thing. I think the vast majority of when this is used falls into the buckets of increasing the subjective gambling experience by creating bigger pots and that itself furthers the fun factor.

    The two ideas that I have seen to defend the play as potentially profitable are:

    1) If there is a loose "fish" at the table and basically a player (or players) wants to get as much of that person's money in the pot as possible.

    2) If it is a fairly risk-averse table that might call the straddle, but bow to further aggression, if the straddler is willing to reraise their option with a large proportion of his/her hands then there might be some potential profit. But again, a potentially easy strategy to exploit if you are a player holding AA or KK in middle position.

  • baldrick

    I see the UTG as the ultimate sucker bet. BB and SB are the two worst EV positions. So what sense does it make to give yourself another hand to bet on that is unseen?

  • Joe24J

    It is a negative EV play. What it does change is the size of the game your playing. Your 1/2 game just became 2/4 (or more). If you make the right bet size adjustments and effective stack strategy, you'll be ahead of most of your opponents.

  • think

    I've seen people use it in what I feel is an effective manner, but mostly with a table image that's pretty aggressive.

    It gives you the last shot at the pre flop betting, so you could just do it once in a while and dial in a raise if your hand has any kind of equity at all.

    If it's a limpy table full of SLP's, there is probably going to be some dead money there (people who will call a straddle but not a $15-20 raise).

    Then the SPR is lower than usual for the flop, so the hand values change. Your opponents may or may not know how to adjust.

    Is a straddle better in combination with a shallow stack?

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