What is a Straddle Bet in Texas Hold’em Poker?
Straddling gives the player to the right of the big blind (under the gun) the option to double the big blind before the cards are dealt. This player then becomes the last player to act during the first betting round; this allows the straddling player the option to raise again.
There are other kinds of straddles as well. For instance the “Mississippi Straddle”, which allows any player to raise the big blind before seeing their hand. Even rarer are re-straddles which allow the next player after the straddle to raise it. Not all casinos allow a straddle bet, and even fewer online poker sites allow it (never seen a straddle online).
Dangers and Benefits
The straddle is rarely a good move. You are putting more money in the pot while playing in a weak early position. It may be helpful if you are playing at a very tight table where you feel you can easily push other players off their hands.
One thing to remember is that you will never see a straddle in tournament play; if you do just remind the dealer and they should take care of it for you.
Knowing and understanding the straddle is important even if you don’t plan on using it. If you play enough live poker, you will come across another player straddling. The straddle can be an excellent way to loosen up a tight table. You need to be care not to use it too much as someone will start to raise your straddle, putting you in even a worse position.
Straddling Players Tell
The straddle can be an easy tell. An opponent that consistently straddles under the gun is often ready to gamble. Such a loose play can often suggest they are playing weak hands when in early and middle position.
Players can straddle for many reasons; they could be on tilt, a weak player or trying to loosen up a table. After 2 or 3 straddles you should always re-raise these players when you have a top ten hand.
Stop The Stealing
You will also find players that use the straddle bet to steal blinds on a tight table. You need to loosen up your hands and raise their straddle bet.
Never call, but put pressure on them. Remember, you will always have the position on a straddling opponent unless you are in the blinds.
Keep it in the Toolbox
Remembering the rules, danger and benefits of the straddle will help you down the road when you do need to use this bet or come across it from another player.
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