Over the years, there have been many different types of poker betting strategies implemented by players. Some of these have gone on to be very successful, and mirrored around the world, while others remain secrets, and rarely used, even today when online play allows these to spread much faster.
Here we are going to look at the straddle bet in poker, which can also be known as straddling. Some people will know this and will use it as part of their playing strategy on a regular basis, while others will not know what it is, or how to use it. Here we will take a look at the rules surrounding the straddle bet, the dangers of using it and the good side, including strategies to make this work for you.
What is the Straddle Bet?
A straddle bet is a voluntary blind bet, that you will place on the table before the cards are dealt. What you are doing here is buying the big blind and doubling the stakes. As a minimum, the straddle bet is double the cost of the big blind, but there are games where this can be bigger, so you can place an even bigger bet on the table.
Let’s look at a game example here.
You are playing no limit hold’em, with $1/$2 stakes in play. Before the cards are dealt, if you want to place a straddle bet then you will have to put $4 down on the table, this is double the amount of the big blind.
From here, anyone who wants to see the flop has to commit to the straddle bet, rather than the big blind, so the cost to see the flop on this table becomes $4 for this round. By doubling the big blind, you are instantly creating a scenario where the pot value will rise more dramatically, leading to a game of higher stakes.
The Rues of a Poker Straddle Bet
We have already mentioned the first rule of a straddle bet and this is the amount it costs. Most tables make this double the amount of the big blind, as shown in the example above. However, there are some games where the straddle can be higher, so look out for these, as you can then add a bigger multiple of the big blind if you want to.
Most rooms only allow the under-the-gun player to place a straddle bet, so depending on where you are sitting will determine whether you can place a straddle bet on that round or not. Some games offer other players the chance to place a straddle bet too, such as the button position. Again, this is information you need to find out about your specific gaming table before you start playing if you are looking to straddle.
The straddle also causes a change to the order of betting, though this is only valid for pre-flop betting and when the game moves onto the next stage, the original betting order comes back into play. The change made put the player who placed the straddle bet in the position where the big blind bet would come from. This means they are last to act before the flop, and it is at this point where things go back to normal.
Good Strategies for Straddling
If you are looking to get involved with straddling, and you would like to find ways in which you can use this then here are some examples of strategies where you can use it to your advantage.
Playing on a Loose Table
Straddling can work when you are playing on a loose table. What we mean by this is that you are playing on a table where your opponents are calling on a small pre-flop bet but folding if they feel pressure post-flop.
With this, the strategy is to build up the pot using the straddle bet pre-flop, before your opponents see the flop, feel the pressure and then fail. The key to rounding this off is to bet aggressively when you are post-flop, to try and push people out of the game and hoover up the money from the pot.
Following the Others Who are Straddling
There will be times when you find yourself on a great, action-packed table that is full of people wanting to make the games interesting. If you sit down, and some or all of the players are straddling to increase the pot at a rapid rate, then try and join in if you can.
This will give you plenty of opportunities to win, and when you win, you know the pots are going to be good because the pots are being increased at a good rate before the flop. Get on the right table at the right time and you will find yourself in a fast-paced game where big pots are up for grabs.
Opening a Tight Table
We’ve just mentioned how straddling can make a table play great, so another strategy where this can be used is to open up a tight table. We have all seen this before, small blinds followed by checking and small bets, resulting in wins that only give you a small amount of money from the pot.
If you are sitting down and taking your time to play poker, you want fun, you want excitement and you want to be in with a chance of winning good money. Sometimes tables are stuck in a rut, with players too nervy or scared to do something outside of the box. In this instance, look to try and open up the table by placing a straddle bet yourself, in the hope of bringing other players with you.
What are the Negatives with a Straddle Bet?
There are many principles that players need to follow when on the poker tables. One of these is that you always look at your overall expected value (known as EV) while you are on the table. When you straddle, you are placing a bet completely blind on a game, which will lower your EV, so based on that, it is the wrong thing to do.
Many people take a lot of time and put high effort into hand selections and will only play the hands that they really believe will win. Every time you place a straddle bet, you are going against this.
This may confuse some people, especially those who are relatively new to poker and trying to work out how to act in different situations and what strategies should be followed all of the time. Straddling goes against what you will see as doing the right thing, and this makes it hard to work out for some players, and could potentially leave them confused, which will potentially lead to mistakes.
One of the biggest things you need to avoid as a poker player is confusion in your head while you are on the table. Things should be clear, easy to understand and comfortable for you to execute. If you ever feel at some point that straddling makes this difficult to do, you should probably refrain from using this method, as not using it is better than being confused while trying to use it.