Straddle in NLHE - How does it effect your strategy?
Hey guys, I was just rereading a thread from Ring Game Hand Anala . . . analasys? . . . right. But it was Hero vs. an early position player in a straddled pot - and the Hero was surprised when our villain showed AA at the end of a hand - in an unraised pot. I would like to discuss straddling and various straddle strategies to gain a further understanding of how they can be played - and what to watch out for.
As far as I know, Straddles are primarily done in Live Cash Games, so a lot of people who haven't spent a lot of time in casinos
and home games that allow straddles may not be familiar with it. A straddle is basically when UTG posts double the big blind - like a blind minraise - and when action gets to him he can check/raise, if it hasn't been raised already.
The straddle is an excellent opportunity to get a feel for the quality of the hands at the rest of the table - if everybody limps to you, you get a free look at a already very well built pot - regardless of your cards - or of course, you can raise. In most of the cash games I play, the straddle is done by a loose aggressive player, who will ussually raise with just about ATC, and ussually a pretty big amount, 1-1.5x the pot, with an intent of taking down a lot of blinds. This isn't always the case - and some players straddle because they get bored or want to act last preflop or whatever.
However, if you have reason to believe that the straddler is going to raise, and you have a premium hand - say . . . AA, as per our example - you could profit immensely by slowplaying the hand, and just limping - provided your straddler raises pre. Suppose you are in MP, UTG and UTG+1 call the straddle, you repeat. CO and Button call the straddle. SB folds, BB calls. There are now 14 BBs in the pot. Should the straddle wake up with a decent hand . . . let's say KQs, I would imagine a big raise here. Let's say 12 more BBs. Now it's 12 more BBs to UTG, who folds, UTG+1 calls, and now it's your action with 12 BBs to call, currently 26 BBs in the pot. You can come over the top and take down a very healthy pot with a proper reraise...
But there's a downside. The straddle doesn't always raise. So for those of you who play against straddlers, how do you decide? Let's look at it from a different standpoint, where you raise the action the first time the action gets to you.
SB, BB, Straddle = 2.5 BBs in pot.
UTG Calls, UTG +1 Calls = 6.5 BBs in pot.
You make it 8 BBs total (6 more BBs), pot is now 14.5 BBs, action folds around to straddler, who calls, UTG and UTG +1 fold. (Now at 20.5 BBs) This play is much less risky, but provided the rest of the action at the table was dependant on calling with mediocre hands in hopes of seeing a flop cheaply, you have in essence killed some of your action on this hand.
I understand that it's not always going to be cut as clear and dry as this, but one pot is 20.5 BBs, 8 of which are yours, and the other pot is 26 BBs, only two of which are yours - not that the owner of the BB matters - once it's in the pot it's in the pot, it's merely how this tired soldier knows how to communicate the thought -
You are effectively limping in hopes of a raise
- which isn't particularly safe, but can be profitable when it pans out. I'd imagine to make the ideal decision, you'd need to know how often the stradler raises from his stradle, his raising range, his range in relation to stacks/players in the hand, etc. as well as mood/tilt whether or not he's eating, multitabling, whatever. Obviously it depends.
From early position I have made this move three times that I can remember - twice with AA and once with KK - The two most recent times I got no raise, and ended up taking down a moderate pot on the flop - but when it did get raised (and reraised by me) I took down a larger pot preflop,
I know there are other things to consider, and I'd really like to open a discussion on the subject.