Most people discover what a Straddle is the first time they play at a Casino. When you are ready to play “normal” Texas Hold’em, someone puts chips under the gun. What does this mean? I’m confident that I can explain what straddle means so you can continue to play.

What is a Straddle in Poker? A straddle in poker is an optional cash game bet pre-flop that must be exact double the current big blind amount. It is typically wagered by the player sitting directly to the left or the big blind. The player who wagered the last straddle act after the flop is the winner.

My maiden voyage was at the 1/2 tables. It was quite a group. It was a crowded place with people stumbling around and raising the cost of playing. It was like playing high-stakes games. I was forced to tuck my tail between the legs and run fast. The straddle is not something to be scared of, however. Let’s get into the details of this frequently misunderstood move.

What is a Straddle?

Straddles are a unique strategy for betting that can only be used in cash games. Straddling is not allowed in tournaments or other games that have a prize pool. This involves betting twice the big blind before the dealer gives out cards. To be able to straddle you will need to sit to your left of the big blind in most cases. However, there are some exceptions.

A “classic” straddle can be used in “flop” games like Texas Hold’em and Omaha where there are community cards. A straddle is required to be played before the dealer gives out cards. However, sometimes the dealer will let you place a bet after the deal has been completed, provided that no one has seen their cards. This isn’t always the case, as someone might complain that another person is cheating.

A straddle can be viewed as a third blind after the big blind and small blinds. There are many ways to straddle and you should plan when and how you will use it. You need to be aware of what you’re doing before you can use this play in a poker game.

Straddle Sizing

The straddle must be at least twice the size of the largest current bet, which is usually the big blind. The guy sitting directly to the left or right of the straddler may do a double-straddle to raise the stakes.

Let’s take, for example, a $1/$2 match where the under-the-gun player straddles to $4. The next player can double the straddle up to $8. In some games, this can go on for an indefinite amount. Although it is rare, the next player could triple-straddle to $16.

Some games allow you to set an unlimited amount, while others have a limit that prevents it from going too far.

General Straddling Rules

  • You must either announce your plan to the table or use poker chips to place the bet.
  • A straddle doubles your big blind and doubles the amount of other players who bet.
  • You have another chance to act if you straddle after you examine your cards. Your options include check or fold and raise
  • The poker game goes on as if there were no straddling.

Some poker games have a maximum amount that the straddle can go. Others prefer to not set a limit. Both can be interesting and keep the game exciting in their own way.

The Straddle’s Purpose

Many players have looked into the math behind the straddle. The overwhelming consensus is that it is a losing play in the long-term. There are certain situations where it can be a profitable metagame play. Some players also straddle to loosen the game and increase action.

If you’re a beginner or don’t want to take the risk, you should avoid straddling. However, it is important to be educated and familiar with straddles in case you are ever faced with them or wish to avoid them. You will often see straddles in live play.

Let’s now discuss some of the most popular types of straddles.

Different types of Straddles

Under-the-Gun Straddle

You’ll see the Under-the Gun, or UTG straddle, most frequently out of all the types. This is the most popular type. You must place a bet before the dealer gives you cards. This type of straddle requires you to be seated to the left side of the big blind.

You must place your bet before the dealer gives out cards. You will “steal” the button if you place a straddle wager if you do.

Mississippi Straddle

The Mississippi Straddle works exactly like a traditional straddle, except that anyone can place a straddle wager at any table except the blinds. You’ll be last to act, just like any other type straddle.

Button Straddle

You might see the Button Stringer in some games. The Button Straddle is similar to the Mississippi Straddle, except that you don’t need to be in a particular seat to place the bet. The Button Straddle can be used by any player who is in the dealer’s place.

You can cancel other types of straddles like UTG by playing the Button Straddle. You would then give the bet to the UTG player. It is not common, but it can be seen in poker.

Straddle Un-Capped

The minimum amount for a typical straddle is twice the size of the big blind. However, it’s also the maximum amount. The Un-Capped Straddle can be taken up a level. This type of straddle removes any maximum limit that may be placed.

The un-capped straddle allows you to bet as much or as little as you like. You can even place your entire stack of chips, if you wish. An Un-Capped Straddle Bet can be a great strategy if you are looking to make big bets. However, it isn’t always the best thing to do.

You can lose a lot of money by placing yourself in the second worst position at the table, blind with a random card. I spent a lot time trying to find a situation in which making uncapped straddles would make sense. I couldn’t.

Double or triple Straddling

Because all players are able to straddle, this also means that other people can “restraddle”. The straddle can continue to double as long as players want. If the UTG player has straddled to $4, then the next player can either restraddle, or double straddle to $8. The next person can triple straddle up to $16. This is rare.

Double and triple straddling is, as with straddling in general, just an exercise in being macho. It is not a profitable strategy to do it. It’s often done by poor (but possibly rich) players to force other players to play higher stakes than they actually are.

Should You Straddle?

If you want to be a good player and win at poker, then you need to learn how the game works. You should understand that straddling players are likely to be very bad at poker.

The fact that you can straddle is a sign that you are at a very profitable table. These environments can be very lucrative if you are able to stay focused and can afford to play.

The best thing about being at tables with a lot of straddling is the fact that it alters the game and strategy by double the big blind. It effectively overrides position of the bigblind, and the large blind overrides small blind. It can only reduce the effectiveness of stacks. Anyone who is skilled at short stacking will benefit from this.

If you don’t have such ambitions, however, straddling is an interesting option that you can try.

Last Thoughts

It doesn’t matter if you are new to poker, or if you want to improve your game. You need to know what a “straddle” is and how to adjust your strategies when it occurs. Although straddling yourself can lead to losing hands, it is possible to be in a situation where there is lots of straddling. A solid short stacking strategy will make your life easier.