Thursday, November 16, 2006

Live straddle

You know how most casino games have bets that have larger or smaller house edges, and the ones with the biggest house edges are called the "sucker bets"? Well, the live straddle is the sucker bet of poker.

You're putting money into the pot voluntarily, without knowing what your cards are, knowing that you'll have to play the hand out of position. I can't think of even one good reason a sensible player would want to do that.

To sweeten the pot, you say? I doubt that it does, because you'll get fewer callers for the larger amount, offsetting the fact that they each come in for a bit more money.

To thin the field of opponents, you say? Well, you might not want to thin the field after you see what cards you have. If you have middle suited connectors, for example, you probably want as many players as possible in, because that's how such hands tend to get maximum value when they hit big.

To gain the advantage of acting last before the flop, you say? Sorry, but that's a pittance of an advantage compared to the uphill climb of having to act out of position for each of the next three betting rounds.

To be able to bluff-raise pre-flop and steal the limpers' bets, you say? Well, there's a decent chance that one of them knows you intend to pull this trick, and is limping in with a real hand, just waiting for you to do it, so he can re-raise you. Then how smart does your little ploy seem? Furthermore, there are a good number of players who dislike the live straddle enough that, especially when they're in late position, they'll put in a hefty raise with nothing, just to steal your money, and to discourage you from doing it again anytime soon. I heard one guy say, "If I'm in position, I'll always raise the straddle just on general principle." Can't say as I blame him.

And to make matters worse, the straddle always slows down the game, because there's always at least 2 or 3 players who don't notice that it's on, no matter how many times the dealer announces it, so we waste time while it all gets sorted out. It's a nuisance, with no benefit to anybody.

If I had my own casino, you'd get kicked out just for uttering the words "live straddle," let alone trying to do it.

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