Playing the Straddle in Poker

How the Straddle Bet Works in Poker

Playing Poker
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When a player decides or says he is going to straddle in a poker game, he is putting in twice the big blind before the cards are dealt. Usually, it is the player to the left of the big blind who straddles. It is basically a voluntary blind and a raise in the dark. All players following must now call or raise the amount of the straddle bet.

When the straddle is "live" it acts like the big blind and if there are no raises the player on the straddle will have the option of raising when it is their turn to act. Dealers are generally required to announce if a live straddle is in play. If the straddle is not live, it is merely a dark raise and the straddler receives no option if everyone simply calls.

Most straddles that are in turn, i.e. directly after the big blind, are live and allowed in nearly every poker game that uses blinds. Straddles that are out of turn are often dead or disallowed completely. If a game advertises a "Mississippi Straddle" it allows straddles from the button. Some games allow straddles from any position and for any amount. Needless to say, these are particularly wild games to play in.

Straddling Rules at Casinos

Casinos often impose rules on straddling. You will generally see "No straddling allowed" as part of the poker rules at Las Vegas casinos. If straddling is allowed, the most common rule is that it is only allowed from one position, usually the under the gun position (left of the big blind). Further, there may be limits in how much you can place as your straddle bet. If you think you want to use the straddle as an option, study the casino rules so you won't end up attempting a disallowed move.

Should You Straddle in Texas Hold'em?

When you're playing Texas Hold'em and you have the option of posting a straddle, should you? That's a divisive topic, and you will hear a variety of pros and cons. Here are a couple of considerations.

  1. In general, the answer is no. The only advantage straddling gives you is that you get to act last during the first round of betting. But you've put in a blind bet with no information and if you're raised, you're going to have to get dealt a pretty lucky hand to be able to call. It's a waste of money.
  2. First exception: If you're playing a lower limit hold'em game than you'd like, straddling is a way to basically double the betting from the get-go. If you feel straddling takes players out of their "comfort zone" and will make the majority of players fold, it may work to your advantage.
  3. Major exception: If you're playing a game where a Mississippi Straddle is allowed, it's not necessarily a bad move to use it when you're in the button position. It gives you an enormous advantage because you will have last position that round, and it encourages the big blind to fold if that player has poor cards.