Owner and Lead Pro
Professional Cash game trainer Bart Hanson has been producing strategy content for over fifteen years. He first started on Live at the Bike! back in 2005, then moved on to host "Cash Plays" on Poker Road, then "Deuce Plays" on Deuces Cracked and then to CrushLivePoker in 2012.
In his career as a professional poker player, Bart Hanson has:
-6 WSOP Final Tables
-Over 15 years of experience at the table
-Over $1,000,000 in tournament earnings
-Multiple appearances on ESPN and Poker Night in America
-4th place finish in 2019 WSOP Monster Stack
You have been there before. The game is tight and almost dead. You look around for a table change but there is nothing better. Someone then suggests, “Let’s get a round of straddles going.” Seems like a good idea right? Wrong. I never understand people who think that straddling from under the gun will somehow help the game. Yes it creates more money in the form of an extra blind but people are not adding on to their stacks.
I like to use my post flop skill when playing live no limit cash games. The shorter the effective stacks the less that we can lean on our skill and the more advantage shifts towards the weaker players (when is the last time you have seen a $300 tourney player consistently beat a $5 big blind game anyway). In fact my token response to someone who wants a round of straddles usually is “Sure if everyone adds on a few hundred dollars.”
Now, I will say that if EVERYONE straddles this is more advantageous than if you alone decide to straddle. There are some advantages in forcing an extra blind versus players that do not know how to adjust. However, if it is just you doing the straddling how can we possible think that putting extra money in out of position can not be a disadvantage? To take it to another extreme if you are playing a loose passive game with deep stacks you might actually want to encourage a straddle because it just basically makes the game play with an extra blind. Be weary though of where the aggressive players are in the game, if any.
Of course it is a totally different situation when dealing with a Mississippi straddle, which basically means that you can straddle from any position on the table. A button straddle is a huge advantage as you are forcing people to put more money in against you while out of position. I still do not like it, however for a number of reasons. Not only are you making the effective stacks smaller but also you are actually forcing the blinds and people in front of you to play tighter and thus it really kills the game. I have written articles in the past about how people make mistakes calling speculative hands in the blinds closing the action pre flop due to “pot odds”. When you straddle on the button you do not give the blinds the opportunity to make that mistake. The button straddle actually works in the exact opposite way of the under the gun straddle. If you are doing it yourself you have a big advantage but if everyone at the table is doing it it can really ruin the game.
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