The straddle, a concept that literally means that something is “on the side”, is a term that has been used to refer to a series of special bets that a player makes before he looks at the cards. But what is exactly straddling in poker?

The rules governing the use of these straddle bets change depending on the casino or platform chosen. 

Although used in many contexts, normally the straddle in poker is a 100% optional and voluntary bet made by the player who is placed in UTG. And he does it without having seen the cards. In addition, we are talking about a bet that usually doubles the BB, so many consider a straddle as a third blind.

At full ring tables, players placed in the UTG +1 and UTG +2 positions can replicate that straddle by making new value bets, doubling its value until reaching the maximum agreed by the table.

What does straddling in poker mean?

Straddling means betting blind. Doing it from UTG and without having seen the cards has one advantage, and that is that no one really knows how strong your starting hand is. You don’t even know if you make a straddle, and that puts you in a position of strength. If you have a bad hand, you can bluff. If you have a good hand, it’s going to be easier to disguise it with that type of bet, because when you make it blind, you’re not x-raying your game.

In order to know what does straddling mean in poker, we have to check out all the types of bets available at any live poker game. Essentially, it is a type of bet that has found a particular boom in live poker. Moreover, since online poker does not have the face-to-face factor, it is easier for the more daring to execute it, given that dissimulation is much easier once the bet has been made.

Although suitable for any type of game, straddle bets are more common in live nosebleed and high-stakes games. But it is important that the players and the organization agree on its use. As it is a voluntary bet, it is important that the organization is aware of the use of straddle in the game.

What does straddling mean in poker for the players? Well, the straddle affects the number of bets the rest can do. Within the straddle world, there are several types of bets. The standard one is the one made by the player placed in UTG. His bet ranges from x2 to +250% of the big blind bet. Those who want to play strong and make their intentions clear can execute the bet even before the dealer deals the cards.

If we are at a full ring table and UTG +1 decides to continue with this voluntary bet, we would be talking about a re-straddle, which would increase the bet and can even become bigger if UTG +2 decides to do the same. When UTG straddles, it is common for UTG +1 and UTG +2 to re-straddle to protect each other, dull their game and avoid being the first to talk.

This opens three fronts for the rest of the opponents, and not one, making the game more complex for those who occupy the rest of the positions.

How to straddle poker

To know how to straddle in poker, you must follow a series of guidelines. They are the following:

  • Agree on its use with the organization. This is essential. The use of the straddle must have the approval of the organizers, since it is a special type of bet.
  • Occupy UTG or derivatives. It is a type of bet that is usually executed from these positions, since it makes more sense. In addition, they allow you to overshadow the game of those who are in this delicate position, and if UTG +1 and UTG +2 make re-straddle, so much the better.
  • Place the bet when the cards have not yet been seen. That is what straddling is all about. But you can do it “smoothly” or aggressively. If you opt for the latter, place the bet when the dealer has not yet dealt your cards. It will be a statement of intent.

Can you straddle in a poker tournament?

Yes, in fact, poker live tournaments and live cash games are where straddle bets are most commonly placed. However, it is not common to see this kind of special bets in online poker tournaments or online poker games of any kind.

So, let’s sum up this point:

  • Can you straddle in a poker tournament, if the game is online? No, you can’t.
  • Can you straddle in a poker tournament, if the game is live? Yes, you can!

That’s because the role of the straddle makes much more sense in live poker, since it protects UTG. The straddle, in fact, camouflages the game by proving to all players that you have bet without knowing what starting hand you have, which opens up a whole range of possibilities to the player who has made it.

This makes his game protected, allowing him to have more strategic options and preventing other opponents from trying to get information from the play, having seen with their own eyes that the bet has been made without knowing the initial hand.