I had trouble phrasing the question correctly so forgive me for that. I will try to explain it the best way I can.

Imagine a game where there is small blind (2 chips) big blind (4 chips), straddle (8 chips) and on top of that there is an extra ante (2 chips) posted by each player. Let's say there are 8 total players on the table that means that in the pot there will be 8+4+2+8*2=30 chips before any other preflop action is made.

This would be equivalent to any other game where there is a small blind of 10 chips and big blind of 20 chips. My question is: Are these two stakes the same just because there is the same amount of chips preflop?

For the sake of simplicity assume that in both games the preflop and postflop betsizings are made proportionally to the pot.

Extra question: How does the extra money in the pot affect the overall winrate of players in those games? Let's say a 10bb/100 winrate in a regular game without antes and straddle is considered very good. What would be the equivalent of this winrate in the straddle+ante model I used?

  • For the sake of simplicity pre-flop bets will not be proportional to the pot. Call and min raise of 8 is way different than a call and min raise of 20. – paparazzo Oct 30 at 17:22
up vote 5 down vote accepted

So first part of this, we need to in my opinion, breakdown and acknowledge the differences between a straddle game and a larger stake game. In the example you mentioned both may have the same amount of chips in preflop and preaction, but both are extremely different games.

First and foremost, typically the average person will sit at a cash game with somewhere between 100bbs to 200bbs. Lets say everyone is there with 200 BBs, some casinos btw fix the top buy-in limit, essentially a cap on max buy-in, at 2/4 this is 800$, while at 10/20 this is 4,000$. That is a huge difference, if we assume a 8 handed table for both, total number of chips on each would be 2/4 is 6,400$ while at 10/20 it is 32,000$

So to say the two tables are the same stakes because they both have the same preaction/preflop amount in the pot is just wrong. Even from a point of view of a standard open at the table, this is a big difference. Let's say the standard open on this cash table is 3.5x the BB, or the straddle in the 2/4 game, at 2/4 this is 28$ where as in the 10/20 game, this is 70$.

Another key difference between a straddle game and even more so one with antes like your example, is dead money! From your example you've given, there is 16BBs of dead ante money in that pot. Dead money creates action, where open raises ballon to make it not profitable for silly hands to call. In essence the extra money in the pot makes for often a looser more aggressive game. For the winrate, I'd argue that the ante + straddle game makes for a very swingy winrate, you'll have games where you'll crush and have a huge stack, mainly because these games will and do play very loose. The whole point of antes and straddles is to induce action and entice bigger play.

A higher stakes game, especially one that does not have a mandatory straddle, from the many I've dealt, often play pretty tight. Essentially they don't have the incentive to go nuts to only win 1.5BBs, it's very common for these games to have a mandatory straddle. Often you'll get one or two aggressive players that'll build pots.

Effectively if we compare both games, even though everyone has 200BBs, the game with the straddle does not play like a 200BB game and will play as if it is a lot shallower. Essentially the forced straddle becomes the new BB so the game is really playing at 100BBs deep. While the larger BB game, this will play like a deep cash game.

So in terms of how does each game effect winrate, the straddle game will be very inconsistent winrate with heavy +/- swings, while the larger game with no straddles will be a much more consistent winrate with not so erratic +/- swings. However the loses in each game will obviously be different, given that a stack in each is 800$ vs 4,000$.

  • To clarify something here, the winrate comment at the end for +/- winrates are assuming everyone is playing decent poker, that there are a handful of players whom are worse so are more likely to be losing. Essentially looking at things from a very theoretical point of view, in reality every game will be different, and winrates will reflect tables that are more loose/tight/etc,etc. – Grinch91 Oct 30 at 15:15

Even though the pot is the same, the antes vs blinds are different. The antes are dead money and they tend to make the game a bit looser. if for example with stacks of 200 bbs you are on the button with drawing hand like 6 6, and its folded to you, you might raise to 24 in the straddle with big blinds example the straddle would have to put in 16 to see a flop and might fold all poor hands you risk 24 to win a pot of 20 if he folds. on the ones he does call, you still have potential to win a lot of chips, almost 10 times your risk if the flop hits you.

the same hand in the 10 20 blind game, the big blind already has 20, your minimum raise would have to be 40, and to have the same scare factor fold equity you would have to raise to 50 or 60. you have now risked 50 or 60 to win 30, and if called you can only win 3 to 4 times what you risked when the flop hits you. so you are much less likely to raise. also there are only 2 people to act after you, and that might make shoving your whole stack marginally profitable.

In California and Nevada casino poker cash games, the straddle is optional, few players do straddles in those games as it is unprofitable. The most important thing there, is if a player consistantly straddles and he is directly to your right, he is hurting you even more than himself, and you should ask for a seat change. as you will never get to see a flop for no extra money or have everyone fold to you.

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