Of all other terms that may confuse you when first entering live poker online, the poker straddle probably sits at the top of the list. Thankfully, it is far less daunting or complicated as you might first fear.
Here’s everything you need to know about the strategy to become a better online poker player and gambler, including its variants and whether you should actually use it.
What is a Straddle in Poker?
A straddle is a voluntary blind bet that is made before the cards are dealt. In most cases, it allows the player to post a voluntary bet that is twice the stake of the ‘big blind’, although some tables will allow for the limit to be raised.
If the straddle is played at a poker table, it will force the big blind to double their bet to see the flop while the small blind would have to quadruple their bet rather than the traditional method of doubling up. Other players would need to match the straddle bet.
The easiest way to consider this is to take an example. If the table was set at a £1 small blind and £2 big blind, the poker straddle would make it look like this;
- SB – £1 (needs an extra £3 to call)
- BB – £2 (needs an extra £2 to call)
- Straddle – £4
- All others – £0 (£4 needed to call)
As such, the proposed purpose of this strategy is clear – to increase the stakes before the flop. In the above example, a table of eight where all players call would have been worth £16 but will now double up to £32 before the cards have been dealt.
Straddling can only be used at tables with community cards or flop rounds.
Types of Straddles
- Mississippi Straddle
A Mississippi straddle can be used by any player but must be mentioned to the dealer before cards are dealt. When using this straddle technique, it is commonplace for the next action to be taken by the person to the straddlers left. If the button holder straddles in this way, the action resumes with the SB.
- Button Straddle
As the name suggests, the button straddle is reserved for the player who holds the button and is the last one before completing the loop. As the last person to act, it is an opportunity to force others into a decision. However, as it is a way to change the betting order, many tables introduce rules like ‘skipping the button’ to combat this.
- Un-Capped Straddle
An un-capped straddle is essentially a straddle that offers players a chance to go beyond standard rulings and increase the bet by any amount. In truth, it’s not often seen at casinos, but online poker tables often do offer this. Cash tables are particularly common for this, with players able to go all-in should they wish.
- Double and Triple Straddling
The double straddle and triple straddle are self-explanatory. If one person straddles to double the BB, another player may double straddle to make it 4x the BB and 8x the SB. A triple straddle takes this one step further. Naturally, both of these routes can see the hand pot grow at a rapid pace.
- Under-the-Gun Straddle
At many tables, the straddle can only be played by the person sitting in the ‘under the gun’ seat, which is the one directly after the BB. the dealer will ask if you wish to post a straddle bet before they deal, you can accept by placing the bet. It can turn a £1/£2 hand into a £1/£2/£4 one.
Why Straddling in Poker is Generally a Bad Idea?
While the straddle may seem like a good strategy when you want to raise the stakes, the fact that you are making a blind bet means it will go against you in the long run as this approach will reduce your Expected Value (EV). Frankly, any experienced poker will confirm that betting with an unknown hand contradicts any winning tactic.
There are some exceptions where it may work, however, with the best examples being;
- When everyone else is too conservative and you need to spark the game into action,
- If other players are loose in the pre-flop but passive in post-flop betting,
- When all other players are straddling at your table,
The poker straddle is a useful strategy to know, even if it isn’t one that should be used very often. If nothing else, when you notice that someone else is using this tactic in an ill-advised way, it could open the door for you to take advantage.