There are different types of straddles in cash games, such as under-the-gun, which means the first player to act preflop, and a Mississippi straddle, which means straddling on the button. But I’m going to focus on the strategies for UTG.
Let’s say you’re playing a full-ring (nine players) $1-$2 PLO cash game, and you have the option to straddle to $5 UTG. Typically, this is a terrible decision for a few reasons:
POSITION: You’re in the worst position at the table and position in PLO is very important.
DON’T PLAY POOR HANDS MULTIWAY: In PLO, your mistakes preflop are amplified postflop. Even if no one raises your straddle and a few players limp in, you’re still up against better hands most of the time. Why put yourself in poor situations?
TYPICALLY FOLD TO MOST RAISES WITH A RANDOM HAND: That means you’re just giving people free money and preventing losses is key. Those $5 straddles can add up. If you buy in to the $1-$2 game with $200 and straddle $5 every time you are UTG for a 10-hour session, at 30 hands per hour that will cost you $150. Save your buy-in.
However, there are situations where straddling can be advantageous to your overall strategy:
HOME GAMES: Getting invited back to the game should be No. 1 on your agenda. A player who’s constantly straddling shows a lot of gamble and is usually welcomed back with open arms.
SHORT-HANDED: If you’re playing six-handed or less and you have weak players on your left, straddling can be an effective tool to control the game and get everyone to play passively toward you.
STACK SIZES: If you know people make poor decisions with a certain stack size, increasing the stakes can change the game. This is more of an advanced strategy, however, and should be implemented with caution.
All of these decisions can drastically affect the outcome of your session and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Oh, and one more thing: If everyone at the table agrees to straddle and you can handle the variance, you absolutely should. It puts you at no disadvantage whatsoever since everyone else is doing it. Just remember to muck the trash. Good luck at the tables.