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In my local home game scene, we play 1/3 NLHE with a 10 dollar rock, with any position straddles. For some reason, most of the good regs religiously straddle their button, as if it is a +EV play.

These are the reasons I can think of for such behavior:

  • The good regs are actually shills who intend to artificially up the stakes of the game
  • Frequent button straddles push thinking players away the seats to your immediate left, to avoid being forced into early position preflop, thus countering the game of "musical chairs" that often takes place between regs

TLDR;

Are button straddles profitable?

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Generally speaking, I'd say no straddles are profitable; the point of straddling is to encourage other players to straddle which will increase your edge in those hands when they are straddling, not for you to make money when you straddle. The only case where you'd actively want to straddle instead of rfi'ing really wide is to get fish to straddle with you and not have people write you off as a grinder at a live table. As usual with poker, it depends on the range you're playing against. Let's say you're playing 3 handed 500NLHE where the SB plays 0% of his hands, the BB plays the top 20% of hands, and assuming you play 100% of hands, because otherwise you automatically lose your straddle amount which is sad, you straddle on the button is to $15

Then your EV = (-15*.20)+(3+5)*0.8 > 0

If the BB plays the top 50% of hands, then

EV = (-15*.50)+(3+5)*0.5 < 0

So again, it's range dependent, but I would advise against it from a purely EV perspective, since it could improve social dynamics at a live table.

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That is a great question and let me answer from my point of view since I use button straddle in some situations.

First of all, let's agree that it is surely not a +EV play in a vacuum.

However, this seems to work out great when I do have solid players next to my left since they will be forced to fold a lot from the blinds, and there is not much they can actually do. I avoid them 3-betting my loose opens and so on.

Also, I like to do it when I feel that my opponents are particularly weak, and I believe it becomes a +EV play in these situations. They will make a lot of mistakes because will not know how to adjust, and as you mentioned yourself it effectively increases the stakes which is great when you have skill advantage.

On top of that, when you play against recreational players it helps you to build a loose table image and you will get paid for that later on. You can also float more mediocre hands in position, so I think there are situations when this move is actually profitable.

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