Straddling a bet in poker is a bad idea, except for the moments when doing so can lead to profitable situations. Professional or veteran players tend to avoid poker straddle bets because of the disadvantage they are placing themselves. In this article, we'll provide an in-depth look at poker straddles to help you know why most players avoid it and why others use this move on certain occasions.
Straddle Bet Explanation
A poker straddle involves putting a bet that is twice the blind amount before the deal. In other words, you straddle by placing a bet right before anyone receives their hole cards. This bet is separate from the blinds or ante, which means any players left of the dealer will need to cover these bets even if they straddle.
While several card rooms allow poker straddle bets, each has its own rules. Several elements are common among poker games that offer this type of bet.
- All poker straddle bets are double the blinds for the specific game. In a $2/$4 no-limit Texas Hold'em table, for example, a straddle is set to $8. A poker straddle bet is considered a third blind. Not all casinos follow the maximum bet cap for straddles where others allow you to triple or quadruple the blinds.
- Straddling is only available in poker variants that have community cards or flop rounds. This is why there are Texas Hold'em straddle and Omaha straddle bets, but no five-card draw straddle bets.
- Anyone willing to straddle must say so verbally or place their bets before the holes are dealt. Certain card rooms allow you to straddle after everyone has their hole, as long as no one has seen the cards. In establishments where the poker straddle rules are lax, players are permitted to place a third blind after seeing the cards once.
- Only those who are acting first are entitled to straddle their bets, which is the position left of the big blind player or those who are under the gun. You can also encounter card rooms that have special poker straddle rules where those who are on the button or in other positions can also cover the third blind. This rule will be covered below.
It is important to note that not all card rooms accept straddle bets within their establishments. Always ask the dealer if they offer this option as well as their rules on the third blind. This includes the max bet cap as well as whether they allow straddling for one or multiple positions.
Types of Straddle Bets
When you want to find a card room that offers a specific kind of straddle in poker, below are the types of straddles to ask the dealer before playing.
As the name suggests, this type of poker straddle is allowed for players who are acting first or are under the gun. Nearly every card room has this kind of straddle where only the one who acts first is entitled to the bet.
In a typical game, the dealer asks those who are under the gun if they want to post their poker straddle bet before they deal the cards. You can set the straddle by accepting the offer or placing the required bet amount.
Those who act last or are on the button can make a poker straddle bet for card rooms with this type. If there is a controversial or disturbing type of poker straddle bet within this list since it involves the dealer position. Texas Hold'em games have different positions that change after completing each betting round. Introducing a means for the person to bet when he is acting last can change the betting order.
To keep the game balanced, casinos that offer button straddles offer various rules. This includes holding the usual position order starting from the under-the-gun player but skipping the button position when they straddled and offering the turn to the BB and SB. After the blinds completed their turn, the actions go back to the button.
Whether you are under the gun, on the blinds, or on the button, the Mississippi straddle lets you make a third blind wager on any position. General straddle rules apply where those who are interested in making this bet must verbally confirm it or put their wager on the table before the dealers give everyone their hole cards.
For every Mississippi straddle rule, one of the common requirements is to have the player left of the one who made straddling take the first action. In a situation where those who are on the button straddle, the SB will start the action.
For the double poker straddle rules, another player has the option to "re-straddle". As common rules dictate, poker straddle bets are twice the BB of the tables. Any player who re-straddles will need to bet at least twice the amount of the original straddle.
This is why a double straddle is considered a fourth blind. If you have a $1/$2 game, for example, the poker straddle is set at $4 while the double straddle is at $8.
Why Straddle Bets Are Not Recommended
Given the nature of poker straddle bets, there are two common reasons why few players are using this option.
Lack of Information
Take note that straddles bets are only available before any betting round, which makes this a bit in the dark. You do not have any information on your hole cards or your standing for the current betting round.
Experienced and professional players avoid straddling bets because of their negative expected value (-EV), a decision that leads to massive losses. Straddling immediately removes most of your choices for the succeeding betting rounds while your opponents have plenty of profitable options to take.
Pressure on the Player
Straddle bets are intended to raise the stakes of a game right before anyone receives their hole cards. This move can be a double-edged sword for anyone straddling since they are increasing the risk of losing a good chunk of their bankroll.
Remember that you do not know what your hole cards are when you straddle. Posting the third blind can force you to stick with any cards you get pre-flop. Your opponents can 3-bet or 4-bet you when they are within a good range pre-flop and C-bet you post-flop with a good draw.
Why Players Straddle Bet
There are players, including professional ones, who will still consider straddling despite the disadvantages. But why do players choose to straddle bet? Here's why:
Optimize Button Play
If you are playing in a table where the button or Mississippi straddle is available, you can position yourself for a good button play here. In the case of the Mississippi rule, the blinds are forced to go first when you straddle and are on the button. If the BB and SB's holes are not within their favorable range, they are likely to fold and let go of the blind.
Professional players can take advantage of poker straddle bets to take out the best people in a tournament. Even veterans who have reached the final table are reluctant in calling a straddle with a low-range hand.
Better Pre-Flop Position
While the BB is the last player to act in any table, the poker straddle rules change that where those who cover the third blind can act last. Straddling can have players call your straddle after the BB posts the blinds. By making a large raise as you get your turn, you can have most players fold pre-flop.
Straddling is a great way to exploit players who consistently fold when threatened with a large bet. It is important to note that this move is less likely to affect LAG players who are playing with a wide range.
Strategies Against Straddlers
If you are going up against players who consistently straddle, here are ways you can get the edge against them.
Read the Players
You want to know what kind of player your opponents are when they straddle. Are they playing a tight or loose game? Will they follow up their straddle with a 3-bet pre-flop?
Knowing what card range your opponents are willing to play can help you determine if they are going to defend their straddle with an overvalued hole card.
Unless you have a good hole card, do not call any raise after a player straddles. Odds are not in your favor when you decide to call any raises without a top pair or suited connectors.
Play it tightly with a limited range when anyone 3-bets pre-flop after a player straddles to keep your stack intact. Do not be afraid to fold if you did not get a good pre-flop range.
Bet a Good Price
Betting the proper amount could be a good strategy against straddlers. you need to keep in mind that you should base your bet on the size of the straddle. As an example, if you're playing a $2/$5 with $500 and your opponent placed a $10 straddle, your best move is to lift to $30.
Straddle In Poker: FAQ
Answers to the most common questions about straddle bets in poker.
What is a straddle bet?
This is a bet placed before the dealer gives everyone their hole cards. In addition, a straddle bet is usually twice the blind amount.
Can you straddle in a five-card draw?
Straddle bets are mostly common among poker variants that use community boards such as Texas Hold'em and Omaha. However, it is still possible to have a straddle bet for a five-card draw and other poker games in settings where the rules are incredibly flexible such as a private establishment.
Why do players avoid straddling?
Lack of information is the main issue among straddling. Professional and advantage players avoid the straddle bet since it limits their choices during the pre-flop and post-flop.
Are players raising when they straddle?
Since straddles are posted before the pre-flop, it is considered a third blind instead of a raise.
When should you consider straddling?
When you want to raise the stake, straddling is a profitable move to make. You can also use this move against nits calling your straddle since they are likely to fold when threatened with a large bet.
Straddle bets are incredibly risky since they are posted without knowing your hole card value, leaving you vulnerable against strong hands. However, straddling can put you in an advantageous position against people who fold easily.