Straddling - Straddle the Blinds

by Jesse Knight


Straddle Bet
Straddle - An optional extra blind, usually posted by the player to the left of the big blind, which typically gives that player the right to last action before the flop.

Depending upon the house rules, a straddle may or may not be allowed to be posted in addition to the blinds. A straddle is often referred to as a “live straddle,” because the wager is typically live, and thus receives an option to raise. This option can either be in turn or as last action, as house rules dictate. Alternatively, a “dead straddle” would indicate that the straddle wager would not have an option, and would instead function similar to a blind raise. The effective difference between a dead straddle and a blind raise is that the straddle is not technically considered a raise and therefore would not count towards the maximum number of allowable bets and raises on the preflop betting round.

Straddles and blind raises are typically both optional wagers, however certain games may require a forced straddle or blind raise. A game with a forced blind raise is often referred to as a “raised blind” or “raise blind” game. These types of games are more common at higher stakes.

Straddles promote action because they seed the pot with additional chips before the start of the deal. This tends to lead to wilder action and larger pots. Allowing them can improve the quality, strength and viability of weak or boring poker games, which is why many casinos allow them. The downside is that they can slow the game down, and sometimes create too much action for certain players, putting undue pressure on risk adverse or low bankrolled players. The house must decide if the benefits of allowing straddling outweigh the drawbacks when deciding on whether or not to allow them.

House rules govern the use of straddles. Card clubs may allow them, disallow them, or restrict in various ways how they may be employed. Specific policies are typically either in the rule book, or known by the floor staff and dealers. Straddle rules can vary substantially from casino to casino, so if you are unsure about the details, you should always inquire.

If straddle bets are allowed by the casino, there are typically rules about size and position that the wager must conform to. For example, many games which allow a straddle require that it be posted directly to the left of the big blind, for exactly double the amount of the big blind. Some casinos, or specific games within them, may allow for straddling from other positions besides the under the gun position. A Mississippi Straddle is a straddle that is placed on the button before the start of the deal, and when it is posted, it typically gives the button an option of last action before the flop, after the big blind acts.

Even though they may be allowed, straddles are not necessarily positive expectation wagers. Frequently, they are negative expectation wagers, because the value you add receiving last action does not adequately compensate you for the value you lose by posting such a large blind wager out of position. A Mississippi straddle is a higher expectation wager than an under the gun straddle, because it takes place in position, and gives the button last action.

Even though it can seem like a negative expectation bet, there can be some legitimate reasons to straddle. One reason to do it would be if all of the other players have also agreed to straddle in order to improve the action. Anytime something improves the action, it also tends to improve the better player’s chances against the weaker players. This is why it usually makes sense to go along with this type of thing. Another reason to straddle is if the other players are playing a particularly passive style of play, and are allowing you to steal more than your share of pots. In this situation, since you anticipate stealing a high percentage of pots, it can be a good idea to start building them as soon as possible, before the flop. Another reason to straddle is if you feel you need to jump-start the game when there is little or no action. Sometimes a boring game just needs a few large pots to get the action going. A straddle is a relatively inexpensive way to seed a pot and try to manufacture some action. It is also a way to cultivate a table image as an aggressive gambler, which is a very good table image for a tight solid player to have.

Usage: Live UTG Straddle, Button Straddle, Straddling The Big Blind, Straddle Bet

See also kill pot.

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