The pros and cons of the straddle

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Most poker rooms allow a straddle in cash games. Some people shy from the straddle because of the action is creates. Some welcome the straddle because they like to gamble. I’m going list a few pros and cons of the straddle and how it can work for you depending on the game and situation.

What is a straddle? By definition, it’s a blind preflop raise (traditionally under the gun) with the option to reraise when the action gets back to you. In theory, it’s similar to posting another big blind and effectively doubling the stakes.

What happens when you straddle?

• The effective stacks get shallower, thus making the game play more like a tournament. (That’s bad if you’re the best player in the game)
• The game plays bigger because the opening raise will be bigger. Higher variance. (Good, if you’re the best player in the game)
• You build the pot preflop out of position. (Bad, if you’re the best player in the game)
You build an action image. (This can go either way, depending on how you exploit your image)

If you have an edge in a cash game, you should strive to build pots in position and use your postflop skills as much as possible.

If you’re going to straddle, be sure to ask the table to do so. If you’re the only player straddling, it’s exploitable and a major disadvantage.

You can see that straddling UTG is most likely a marginally losing play. Now, if your casino offers a Mississippi straddle on the button or from late position, then using that to your advantage can be profitable. You’d be building an image while building pots in position and effectively doubling the stakes which, if you’re the best player at the table, are very good things.

— Mike Wolf is a professional poker player who can be reached at MichaelJWolf33@gmail.com. Follow him on twitter @mikewolf7.