March 2007
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Adventures in straddling

I have a confession to make.  I experimented with straddling last night.  But it was just one time, and I didn’t inhale, so that’s OK, isn’t it?

I wanted to do something to help my solid-as-a-rock image.  I’d hardly played a hand for an hour, then when I did, I got my entire stack in the middle with nothing less than a flopped nut straight.  I was amazed I got any action even then, but it was only going to get trickier to get a call from anyone who had been playing the slightest attention.

Not only that, the player to my left had remembered me, knew that I didn’t fool around and – like most of the players at Gutshot – couldn’t keep information to himself.  When I first sat down, the dealer asked for blinds and said to me "it’s £2 if you want to straddle".  I declined, saying "not this time".  He piped up, laughing, "yeah, and not any time".  So when I actually did stick my two quid in blind, I got a reaction from him as close to a hi-5 as you could ever expect from a young black Londoner wearing a Full Tilt hoodie and an ipod.

With six players calling the straddle, I didn’t have the balls to do anything other than check my option when I see an offsuit ten-five.  Not a great hand to play ever, let alone multi-way and out of position.

When the flop gave me a dreadfully weak top pair though, could I just check-fold?  I probably should – the board was T72, all different suits – but I found myself needing to be seen to throw some chips around, and led out for £10.  One player re-raised the minimum and another called, so it’s £10 back to me for a pot of £64.  Now, finally, I change my mind, panic at the prospect of losing all my newly acquired profit with a garbage hand and give up.

In fact I would have been up against T8 and 75, with the 5 on the turn giving me the best hand and another player a decent second best hand, so I could have done very well out of my moment of madness.  But that’s just some stray results-oriented thinking getting the better of me.  It would be a very poor call if I could actually see the other players’ hands, and a pretty poor call if I thought I might have as many as five outs.

If I do find a call here, I’m not going to put in another chip unless my hand improves, but I’m still not sure what to do if I do hit a miracle.  If I’m counting getting implied odds with a suckout, I have to know where they’re coming from.  Another ten on board would definitely get me into trouble against someone who flopped top pair, or a flopped set.  Improving to two pair gives me not much more than a difficult decision still to make.

I see the potential for only big losses in my future so I fold the hand.  So much for making myself appear looser.  Now I’m the rock who folds top pair to a minimum reraise, getting better than 6-1 on the call.  But looking at the kind of action I was getting in this hand anyway, I guess I can live with it…