What is a Straddle in Poker?

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Written by: Matt E.

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You might be wondering, what is a straddle in poker? A straddle is a pre-flop bet of twice the big blind before the cards are dealt. Some poker rooms might round up to make it easier for the dealers. For example, you are playing at a $1/$2 live cash game, and the straddle allowed is $5.

There are two types of straddles, although poker rooms have different house rules depending on where you play. Many live cash game poker rooms allow a straddle in the position directly to the left of the big blind (Under the gun). Some poker rooms ALSO allow the possibility of a button straddle as well, which means you can place a straddle in the dealer button position.

Under The Gun Straddle

The under-the-gun straddle is a double the big blind bet and placed before you get dealt the cards. So if you're playing $1/2 no limit, you would put out $4 just like you would put out a blind.

So the small blind would put out $1, the big blind puts out $2, and the position directly to the left of the big blind would put $4, then the cards get dealt.

If both the button and the under the gun position want to place a straddle, the button straddle takes priority.

Button Straddle

The button straddle is a bet twice the big blind placed on the dealer button before any cards are dealt. It's a little bit different because the action gets changed after the cards get dealt.

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If there is a button straddle placed, the action moves to the position directly to the left of the straddle after the cards are dealt, so the small blind has to act first, then the big blind, and then under the gun all the way around to last position which will be the button straddler in the dealer button.

This is quite strange because you force the small blind and the big blind to act first after the cards are dealt and you get the advantage of acting last, providing you with the most amount of information possible. So, is this a viable strategy if you use it consistently?

Are Straddles Any Good?

The Under-the-gun straddle is horrible. Position is king in poker, and many years of data analysis will show you that the most profitable position in poker is always closer to the button. As you move further away from the button, you will make less money. This is a fact.

So putting in more money before you even get your cards at one of the worst positions in poker will almost automatically put you at a disadvantage going forward.

The button straddle is a much more interesting conversation because the button is considered the most profitable position in poker, so putting in money in this position might not be such a bad thing after all.

ALSO, adding a button straddle means you get to act the last pre-flop and gain the most amount of information possible at the table, which is also a great advantage as well.

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The argument here is that while you are forcing more money into the pot in the most profitable position in poker, you still have to put money in the pot without even first seeing your cards. Whereas you would get an option to fold if you didn't straddle and lose $0.

Also, when you straddle on the button you force the small blind and the big blind to play a bit tighter since they have to act first, and you incentivize the two positions to your right to raise more frequently.

In my opinion, straddling, in general, is bad unless you are a really good post-flop player and the players at the table are playing extremely tight and passive.

Written by

Matt E.

I've been immersed in the world of poker since 2003. Poker is hard. It has undoubtedly been a roller coaster of experiences for me over the years. My poker journey spans from playing at .01/.02 NL tables to engaging in intense sessions at $5/$10. Poker isn't just a game to me—it's a passion. Outmaneuvering opponents in this test of mental strength and strategy offers an unparalleled thrill. To deepen my understanding of the game and to assist others, I initiated this blog. It aims to elucidate the ever-evolving technologies, strategies, and legal landscapes of poker, especially in the online realm. We're now in the age of solvers, but both online and live poker continue to thrive. A quick visit to a local $1/3 game would be ample evidence of its vitality. Regardless of your proficiency level, from novice to expert, I hope my blog posts offer you valuable insights. Feel free to engage with me through messages or by commenting on my posts. Cheers!

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