News: Poker Basics – Straddling

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If you find yourself playing live and wondering why some players raise before the cards are dealt, wonder no more.

Straddling ‘buys’ position and raises the stakes

A straddle in poker is when the under-the-gun player makes a voluntary blind bet of two big blinds before the cards are dealt. Some card rooms allow straddling on the button too. 

So in a $1/$2 game the under-the-gun player would raise to $4 before the cards are dealt. The remaining players would have to at least call $4, rather than the previous minimum of $2, to see the flop. 

It is often called ‘buying position’ because it means the straddling player can act last, but that only is true preflop. It is also called ‘raising blind’ because that is essentially what it does, it raises the stakes. 

Most live poker rooms allow straddling but only in cash games (you could get a penalty for doing it in a tournament) and sites like GGPoker have it as an option too. It is very common in live cash games, so much so sometimes players are teased for not doing it. 

A bad idea in a vaccum

Some games allow Button Straddles

Straddling is generally a bad idea, as not only are you raising without looking at your cards, you are doing so from one of the worst seats at the table. You have bad position post flop and there is a very good chance somebody behind you has a strong hand. 

However, straddling can sometimes be a good option if you want to keep a game loose, or wake up a bunch of tight players. It encourages action and decreases the stack-to-pot ratio meaning it is more profitable to commit extra chips afterwards. It also keeps a game fun and friendly, you will get invited back if you join in with gambling games like straddling. 

Straddling is a bad idea in any given hand, but like running it twice might be worth doing to keep a game fun, friendly and loose. 

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