Poker Straddle: Why its Good for the Game

poker straddle

What is a straddle in poker?

You could walk into half a dozen different casinos and find different house rules on the poker straddle but the basics don’t change much. A poker straddle is where the player who is meant to be under the gun, puts in an unforced bet (usually double the big blind). It is usually in No Limit Texas Hold’em or Pot Limit Omaha.

In order to straddle, you usually have to affirm this verbally before the cards are dealt so the dealer knows. Alternatively, you can just put double the blind before the cards are dealt.

Again, the rules vary from one casino to the next whether that is binding. As the player doing the poker straddle has put in the optional bet, the action will start from UTG +1 and the poker straddle will have the final action pre-flop. This is contrary to everything you may have learnt in poker and confuses many beginners.

Why straddling can be good

  • Anyone willing to start putting in blind bets when they don’t have to, are likely to be the kind that will pot bet pre-flop with weaker hands. They are the type that will stack off lightly
  • It increases action, this is always a good thing, particularly in a dead game
  • It gets nits off their game. Nitty players don’t like games with straddles as it increases the poker stakes
  • It can get players on tilt which makes the game softer

Reasons why the poker straddle is bad

  • Turns skills game into more chance. The stacks to pot ratio is smaller
  • Harder to get to the flop as people try to to win the bigger pot before the flop
  • Increases the stakes, not something some players want, otherwise they would just play higher stakes
  • You’re paying more money involuntarily, more often than not, with bad hands

Some people go a little crazy in hands involving a poker straddle like Tony G.

My take on the poker straddle

I love when players straddle. They are investing money they don’t have to, blindly. They may as well play play slots or blackjack. I don’t have to change or alter my strategy much and it changes nothing post flop. That’s an important thing to remember.

One of my favourite plays in a game with straddles is setting a trap, I will happily over-limp or flat call a strong hand like A-K or Q-Q if the player straddling is prone to trying to win the pot pre flop. This is something you will often see from those that straddle. They know they have final action before the flop and will use this to exercise a big bet to win the pot. It’s an effective strategy at many tables but strong players can adjust accordingly and widen their stacking off range.

This article was written in 2020 and has been updated.

Narciso Baldo is the Director and Head Coach of Texas Hold'em Questions. He has been playing poker for over 16 years. After spending many years as a professional, he now runs UK poker training site Texas Hold'em Questions. Narciso regularly writes poker articles sharing tips, strategy, news and experience with gambling enthusiasts. Narciso also writes for reputable gambling portal Casino City Times, (bio here). Contact: