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What is Straddling in Poker?

What is Straddling in Poker?
by Chad Holloway of

Straddling is usually an option reserved for the player under-the-gun (the player after the big blind), which allows the player to double the amount of the big blind, without looking at his cards, and essentially makes him the new big blind with last option to act; that is, he will force everyone to call, raise, or fold to the doubled amount and then when action gets back to the straddle, he will have the option to check, raise, or fold himself. For example, in a $2-$4 Limit Hold'em game, the blinds are $1-$2, but if the player under-the-gun wishes to straddle he must blindly put out $4, which all players would have to call or raise in order to continue playing.

The straddle is usually an option in all flop games (I.e. Limit Hold'em, No Limit Hold'em, Omaha, Omaha Hi/Lo, etc.), although some casinos do not allow it. If it is allowed, it is important to find out the rules regarding a straddle since casinos implement a number of them. For instance, is the straddle capped or uncapped (is it a predetermined amount or can a player straddle any amount he wishes)? Is the straddle optional or mandatory (had the table agreed to implement a mandatory straddle before you began play)? Finally, from what position is the straddle allowed?


As previously stated, the straddle bet is usually reserved only for the player under-the-gun; however, a few casinos implement other options. The most notable has become known as the "Mississippi Straddle," which refers to straddling from any position. If a casino allows this, the button has the priority to straddle first and the option works counterclockwise, away from the blinds, with the under-the-gun player having the last option. This is a popular option in the Horseshoe Casino in Tunica, where you can also re-straddle the straddle, and that can be re-straddled, and so on and so forth all the way down the table. Another option is offered at Caesars Indiana, which is essentially the same as the "Mississippi Straddle," but with one exception. That exception being that the under-the-gun player retains the first straddling option, but if declined, then priority goes to the button and works back counterclockwise.

Knowing how and when to use a straddle is important to anyone's poker game. Even if you decline to utilize it, it is likely someone else at the table will. The straddle is an excellent option to help loosen up the table and increase the action, which can change the dynamics of any game. Needless to say, the more liberal the straddling options, the looser and faster the game will likely go. With that said, it is important to recognize and respect both the advantages and dangers of straddling. Some of the advantages include loosing up your table image, throwing in a large raise on your straddle to swipe the money in the pot, and trapping your opponents on the rare occasions that you actually pick up a big hand in the straddle. Some of the dangers include loosing extra money when your straddle is raised, which is often the case, forcing you to fold, being trapped by an opponent with a big hand, and feeling pressured to defend you straddle, which can become costly. Straddling is an important factor in most poker games and is one most players will want to account for. With enough practice, play, and experience, a player will learn and understand the straddling procedures, rules, and benefits.


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