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Old 02-06-2019, 12:30 PM   #1
tomdemaine
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Why straddle?

There are a number of players in my games whose game I respect (they are probably stronger players than me for example) who always straddle. Not a button straddle but an UTG one. To me this seems crazy, I would argue that good players prefer to be deeper so even if there were no cost it would be a bad idea. But there is a cost, it surely has to be -EV overall to put 2BBs into the pot blind and the option to raise can't feasibly make up for that. If 10BB's per 100 is a great winrate 2BBs per round has to eat into that significantly. Maybe it's just an ego or groupthink thing but I'd like to hear if there are any arguments I'm missing as to why straddling is a good plan.These are 100% winning regs otherwise playing tight solid poker who certainly aren't there just for the gamble.
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Old 02-06-2019, 12:32 PM   #2
noshots00
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Re: Why straddle?

If the fun players are straddling the good regs will straddle with them to give them action and make the table much better overall. It's worth it. If the whales aren't straddling it is certainly a very -ev play to just straddle every rotation.
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Old 02-06-2019, 12:35 PM   #3
noshots00
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Re: Why straddle?

You don't want to be the guy who sits there looking miserable refusing to straddle and you never give action. I know a guy who is certainly a better technical player than me who QUIT poker and had to go back to his job because his winrate was so bad. He happened to have a reputation as a miserable nit to the point that he raised and the fun player sitting next to me leaned over folded Q9s (after limping) and said "I never give that guy action."...

Needless to say this "winning pro" was the type that always refused to straddle.
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Old 02-06-2019, 12:45 PM   #4
gobbledygeek
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Re: Why straddle?

You don't have to necessarily make -EV plays just to keep everyone (including whales) at the table happy. Just be a nice pleasant person to play with, engage in conversations, don't wear earbuds / sit there staring at an iPhone movie / etc., take your bad beats with a laugh and a joke, never get in the way of their games ("you guys go ahead and shoot, I'll fold blind"), and help create a fun and respectful playing atmosphere (which you can still do even uber nitting it up).

Of course winning players will still be winning players overall even if they do -EV moves like straddling or even limping 72o UTG every single time. But it's not necessary.

GcluelessNLnoobG
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Old 02-06-2019, 12:48 PM   #5
c0rnBr34d
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Re: Why straddle?

In for the discussion although I'm far from the authority on this. I used to be against straddles but after reading here I came to understand how it can be good for the game and keep the fish / whales happy. I recently actually started a round of straddles at a 1/2 game. The game had devolved into a weak passive limp fest and I was collecting some limps in position but at $2 a pop it's still not much. I would never suggest a straddle at a table that I thought was already fine, or if there are too many other good players at the table. Also, I don't just straddle by myself but if we can get everyone or all but 1 or 2 on board you have 7 or 8 chances to get your straddle money back each orbit, aside from the fact that you can still win the hand after straddling yourself so it's not really a -2BB per orbit hit to your win rate. The pots you do win are now larger because pre flop was larger, flop bets are larger, turn, river, you get the idea. I found in that 1/2 game while the table didn't really adjust to limping much before the straddle there were slightly less limpers after the straddle and my pre flop raises were larger and more effective at thinning the field. Also against weaker players you'll increase your edge in other ways since they likely wont adjust at all and still open too small and call too light. Giving up a depth advantage could be more than compensated by exposing other advantages. Curious to see how the more experienced players feel though.

ETA: If you just pick up the blinds once every two orbits with lets say 1 limper. You pick up 5.5 BB with the straddle to offset your -4 BB for straddling twice and folding. Not to mention any real pot you win as mentioned above will be significantly larger if it goes to late streets. IMO it's not -EV if most everyone is in on it, it's just raising the stakes.

Last edited by c0rnBr34d; 02-06-2019 at 01:00 PM.
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Old 02-06-2019, 01:00 PM   #6
twitcherroo
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Re: Why straddle?

Tom - if a $1/2 game suddenly became a $1/2/4 game has your Session EV changed? In nearly every case of you’re the only guy straddling UTG it’s a bad idea, though managing your image could make it worth it. If you’re helping everyone else make -EV decisions by also straddling UTG it can’t hurt and should help.

I BTN straddle all the time, never UTG straddle. Normalish for the room.
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Old 02-06-2019, 01:26 PM   #7
noshots00
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Re: Why straddle?

I think the most important thing about straddling is you never want to be the one guy not doing it.
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Old 02-06-2019, 01:51 PM   #8
Toph
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Re: Why straddle?

I only straddle when at least half the table is doing it. I'd rather be at a fun table with some money moving around than at a table with nits. If a straddle gets the juices flowing, then it's worth the 2BB/round, especially if most everyone else is doing it. If everyone is doing it, then it just changes the game to a $1/$2/$4 game and it's not -EV for anyone.
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Old 02-06-2019, 01:58 PM   #9
browni3141
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Re: Why straddle?

Just because they're good doesn't mean their straddles are a good decision. It's hard to tell just how much EV is lost without databases live so they probably just don't realize how bad it is to straddle.

Of course other players have mentioned legitimately good reasons to straddle sometimes, but if the guy straddles all of the time he is doing it wrong.
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Old 02-06-2019, 02:00 PM   #10
Lapidator
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Re: Why straddle?

i strongly doubt that UTG straddling, in and of itself, has a material affect on a positive winrate.

Most likely, they are just bored and juicing up the game a bit.
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Old 02-06-2019, 02:11 PM   #11
QuantumSurfer
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Re: Why straddle?

BTN straddles are the bad ones IMO. It makes the blinds play tighter, so now two players who you might get action from have a chance to be first to fold. If BTN doesn't straddle, the blinds might come along with hands they shouldn't, but when the BTN does straddle, they tend to make more correct laydowns pre.

UTG straddles are an excellent way to boost your winrate provided all/most of the table does it and the hero is rolled for double stakes. For example, if your normal game is 2/5, by straddling UTG you get to play 2/5/10 with the bad 2/5 players.
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Old 02-06-2019, 02:26 PM   #12
CRAIerrday
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Re: Why straddle?

I 100% believe that straddling in the right games is +EV in the long run. I don't think table talk/having a personality/showing a little gamble in general is given enough credit.

Benefits:

1) It gives you a gambly image, which is super important if you're card dead or just a nit in general
2) It can wake the action players up and juice up a dying game
3) If you sit down and everyone is already straddling, you don't want to be the guy to kill the good vibes
4) Often the players in the SB and BB will make mistakes against you if it's folded to them
5) Bigger pots

The golden scenario for straddling: the 6 players to the left of you are all tight, the SB/BB are super gambly or passive calling stations and you're all 250+ BB deep. This happens rarely but when it does the outcome is phenomenal

Times I don't straddle:
- Typically not in a 1/2 game where the player pool is much larger and image isn't as important
- If the table is nitty and/or shallow
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Old 02-06-2019, 04:36 PM   #13
KT_Purple
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Re: Why straddle?

I straddle at 2/5 100% of the time because

A) I want to buy the option, which is worth something. It's not worth the full $5 but it's worth some %, I've watched people limp in and then raised from the straddle and won the pot without ever looking at my cards
B) makes the game bigger, I'm usually the best player so i will win more with bigger pots, also I have a bigger bankroll than most rec players so it's much harder for them to play in stakes they aren't rolled for
C) prevents the game from being too tight, open raising is now very profitable so you induce lighter raises than normal, which often happens with 2/5 pros. They love to steal the unraked $17

admittedly, it can be tough in some spots when you are up against a table full of aggressive pro's but I think you can at least break even if you defend properly and it should be a plus overall for the looseness of the game even if you lose a little on your straddle

Last edited by KT_Purple; 02-06-2019 at 04:41 PM.
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Old 02-06-2019, 04:46 PM   #14
tomdemaine
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Re: Why straddle?

So you choose to straddle even if you're the only one doing it?
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Old 02-06-2019, 04:56 PM   #15
typesick
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Re: Why straddle?

KT, I find that the vast majority of players, even pros, tighten up their raising ranges when met with button hours. This changes facing UTG straddles, however.
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Old 02-06-2019, 05:49 PM   #16
KT_Purple
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Re: Why straddle?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tomdemaine View Post
So you choose to straddle even if you're the only one doing it?
yeah but almost always other people start straddling and it's usually the good regs

I try to explain to people that the money you lose from it is trivial if you aren't making a whole lot of mistakes, mathematically speaking you are not really losing the whole $5, buying the options covers more than 50%, it really is worth more than people think, so lets say in a vacuum it reduces your win rate by about 50c an hour
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Old 02-06-2019, 05:53 PM   #17
KT_Purple
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Re: Why straddle?

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Originally Posted by typesick View Post
KT, I find that the vast majority of players, even pros, tighten up their raising ranges when met with button hours. This changes facing UTG straddles, however.
I refuse to play with button straddles for exactly the reasons mentioned above
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Old 02-06-2019, 06:06 PM   #18
DK Barrel
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Re: Why straddle?

Because it's fun.

Also, you don't even have to be involved in the hand you straddle to profit from it. A few times I've straddled, folded pre, and because I had bumped up the stakes by straddling two other people ended up getting a zillion BBs in and now one guy is stuck and tilted and another guy is deeper than he's comfortable with/has more chips to lose.

I wouldn't do it every orbit unless everyone else is, but I do straddle 2-4 times a session (when there aren't good aggressive players in late position). If it's a losing play, it's not by much, and I think the intangible benefits are worthwhile.
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Old 02-06-2019, 06:24 PM   #19
KT_Purple
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Re: Why straddle?

yeah, anything that moves chips around is good for the better players and the deeper players, I tend not to straddle at 5/10 or 10/25 because the players are MUCH better but if I feel an edge on the table i def will straddle

it's a slight loser for the straddler but you can make that up by playing in a bigger game and being mostly in the top 2 or 3 players at the table, so the better players should straddle and be double rolled
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Old 02-06-2019, 07:20 PM   #20
venice10
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Re: Why straddle?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KT_Purple View Post
it's a slight loser for the straddler but you can make that up by playing in a bigger game and being mostly in the top 2 or 3 players at the table, so the better players should straddle and be double rolled
It is time put some logic into this argument. So here are some questions to ponder.

1. Do the best players have a greater advantage in a deep stack game or a shallow stack game?

2. Do you want to play more hands in early position compared to the button or less hands?

If you think short stack games are harder to play and position doesn't matter, then straddling will make sense to you. You're probably not a winning player if you believe that.

I know we don't have databases, but back when I was playing on-line, my villains were losing about 0.5 BB per orbit in the big blind. Translated to a live table, that means a straddle will be losing about 3 BB/hr. I don't know many players that can sustain that sized a leak. Now if you can get everyone to do it, then everyone will have that leak and it will balance out. If they aren't, that's a massive hit to your winrate.

I'm most profitable against badly thinking villains. These are the ones that think they know it all, but really don't understand what they are doing. They are just copying what other people told them. Blind size is one area. If someone is straddling to make it a "bigger" game, I know they don't understand poker. The smallest stack in a hand defines how big the game is. If you have a million BBs, but your villain has 20 BB, you're playing a 20 BB game. If you double the blind size, the game gets smaller, not bigger. People will automatically tighten up with a straddle, which is generally a bad thing to happen for winning players.

This isn't to say that there aren't some meta-game elements involved. However, I doubt you're getting a 3 BB/hr benefit from it. As a once in a while move, it isn't horrible. But if your strategy is to straddle, you could win much more not doing it.
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Old 02-06-2019, 07:33 PM   #21
Randal_Graves
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Re: Why straddle?

Provided most the table is doing it, you get to play 5/10 with the 2/5 player pool.
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Old 02-06-2019, 08:41 PM   #22
sirpupnyc
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Re: Why straddle?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KT_Purple View Post
I try to explain to people that the money you lose from it is trivial if you aren't making a whole lot of mistakes, ...
No strategy talk at the table, please.

At a limpy/passive table, one aggressive straddler can pick up a good hour's win in a few orbits. A few people call the straddle, $30 on top, they all fold. Rinse, repeat. Of course, at all but the limpiest/most passive tables, they don't get to do that more than a few times before someone with a monster l/rr's. But, the average player's memory being short, many will limp mediocre hands again the next time.

Though if it gooses the table's nittiness, it's only good for the straddler. That can happen. When you get a walk on your straddle it's time to stop.
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Old 02-06-2019, 09:50 PM   #23
Nozsr
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Re: Why straddle?

Explain, please.

When you get a walk on your straddle, it seems to me, you should straddle every chance you get. Free money in the form of the SB and BB.
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Old 02-06-2019, 10:45 PM   #24
zica
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Re: Why straddle?

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Originally Posted by Nozsr View Post
Explain, please.

When you get a walk on your straddle, it seems to me, you should straddle every chance you get. Free money in the form of the SB and BB.
This is what I say at the table all the time but I don't straddle.
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Old 02-06-2019, 10:50 PM   #25
wait
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Re: Why straddle?

i always straddle especially the button. utg is whatever depends on stacks at the table. most games i play are deep so not trying to play 1/2 with 1k stacks
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