Poker Straddle Yay or Nay?

Poker Straddle Basics

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 Holdem 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.

Reasons to Embrace The Straddle

  • 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 a dead game.
  • It gets nits off their game. Nitty players don’t like games with straddles as it increases the stakes.

Reasons Why Some Dislike The Straddle

  • 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.
poker straddle
Some think straddling increases the luck and chance in a game

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

My Take on Poker Straddle

I love when players straddle. They are investing money they don’t have to, blindly. They may as well play at 3king.online if they want to 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.

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Limp in Poker & Why It’s Almost Always Bad

What is Limp in Poker?

The open limp is where a player will enter the pot by flat calling the blinds. It is the cheapest way to enter the pot and generally used by beginner players to see how the rest of table will act before choosing to invest more before the flop.  

Why is it so Bad to Limp in Poker?

I’m willing to stick my neck out on this one and say it’s almost always bad to open limp in tournament poker. There are scenarios where it can be ok – I make exception from the small blind, but every other position I will almost never advocate an open limp. If you are a member of our training video membership, you will see an open limp from an opponent at my table will a instantly justify a weak tag on them. Judgemental? Yes, but with good reason. Let’s take a look at some reasons why open limping is bad poker strategy.

Weak Passive Play Doesn’t Win

Players can be grouped into several categories, each one with distinct traits that separate them from others e.g. tight aggressive and loose aggressive. The style of poker that involves open limping is generally weak passive, one of the worst traits to have. Why? Winning poker strategy almost always means playing aggressively, you can achieve this with different pre-flop hand selection but you must be aggressive when you do play (generally).

Adopting a weak passive style is likely to see you getting bullied out of countless pots. The reality is, you will not hit enough strong hands to command a decent post flop win %.

Limping in is very fishy play

What are You Representing by Limping?

By open limping, you are telling the table you have a weak to medium strength hand. Any decent player will immediately recognise that you want to enter the pot cheaply as you are not coming in for a raise. The reason this is bad is simple, a table of good players will isolate your limps and take pot after pot from you. You cannot legitimately represent premium hands when you open limp/call which makes post flop play tricky for you too.

Ingredients


I always ask students, are the ingredients of the hand on your side when you are involved in a pot. The ingredients being ; position, pre-flop lead/aggression, hand strength and ability. This can be converted to questions as follows:

  • Do you have positional advantage?
  • Are you the pre flop raiser?
  • Do you think you have the stronger hand?
  • Are you the better player?

Now let’s answer the questions above when you open limp from early position with:

Do you have positional advantage?No. Unless they fold to the blinds.
Are you the pre-flop raiser?No.
Do you think you have the stronger hand? Possibly, if it folds to the blinds.
Are you the better player?Unlikely, if you are the type of player to open limp

Clearly the ingredients to winning the hand are not on your side by adopting a limp in style of poker. That doesn’t mean you won’t win the hand but you are handicapped somewhat.

Conclusion

Limping in is a poor poker strategy. It makes playing post flop poker harder, you are less likely to win and more likely to get bluffed out too. By adopting this style, you are inviting better players to abuse you before and after the flop and put you in awkward positions. There are professionals that have attempted this style of poker in the past with a view to setting traps but it is rarely profitable and to be used at your peril. Even with the relentless aggression in online poker, the limp in style of poker is not one to be seriously considered yet. It’s possible in 10 years, that limping in might be a strategy to consider (but I doubt it!).  

If you enjoyed this article, perhaps you’d be interested in reading our poker tournament strategy tips or our poker cheat sheet article. Or, if you’re interested in playing on a site with loads of fishy limpers, we recommend Coral poker. Sign up below or read our Coral review.

Image Source for Fish: Unsplash

Poker Squeeze

What is the Poker Squeeze?

A phrase given to a pre flop play in Texas Holdem where a player will re-raise over an initial raise and one or more pre-flop calls. It is usually with the intention of picking the pot up before the flop without showdown. When executed properly, the poker squeeze is one of greatest pre-flop plays. It’s a move we regularly offer in our poker training too.

History of the Squeeze Play

Twenty years ago, the squeeze was not even a play as such. A few of the best players probably did it without giving it the name but it was seldom used. Then Dan Harrington brought out his tournament books and with it, a revolutionary concept. Tight aggressive players found a new weapon to use and exploit opposition with.

However, poker is an evolving game with trends and once this strategy was being used all the time, winning players started taking note and with it, a shift in mentality. No longer could the squeeze play be used with impunity as you were likely to get 4 bet by a competent and thinking player. Or they would flat call an open with AA/KK from an aggressive player, hoping you would squeeze.

The pendulum has swung back again though and it is not a move mentioned too often. It’s used less than the aftermath of its revelation to the poker world. It’s a brilliant move to use but only if the ingredients are there and you don’t over use it.

When is the Right Time to Squeeze?

The squeeze play loosely rests on the assumption that the open raiser is unlikely to be holding a premium hand. The theory being that a flat caller is also unlikely to be super strong, otherwise, they surely would have re-raised themselves. Whilst this is logical you need certain factors to be on your side for the squeeze to be successful. Please consider the factors below before squeezing.

Stack Sizes

It baffles me when poker players try a squeeze and are priced in, disregarding stack sizes. Have a close look at the stack sizes when you are considering a squeeze. It’s possible that a flat caller is setting a trap when short stacked.

Your Table Image & Reputation

If you have a reputation for creative 4 bets and tricky aggressive moves then it far less likely to work. You must have a solid table image at the time of making a squeeze. Your squeeze has to be credible i.e. your opponents need to believe that you are likely holding a premium hand.

Calibre of Opponent

If your opponent has shown no inclinations to fold before the flop, do not consider squeezing. Whilst your logic that they are weak pre flop could be true, it does not mean they will fold. You can still squeeze if you wish but be prepared to play a big pot!

Position

As always, position is important. It’s better to be squeezing in position than out of position obviously. You prefer to play the hand in position for the rest of the hand if you get called. It’s not essential to be in position when squeezing though. After all, the intention is to pick it up pre flop. However, it is another factor to consider.

Hand Strength

There’s no use turning very playable hands and positive scenarios into wasteful ones by squeezing. If you are holding a suited connector or a little pair in position, multi-way, then it’s best to play the pot and try to get value. A squeeze is usually better to do with a hand of little value or good blockers, e.g. Ace Three.

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3 Bet – What & When?

What is a 3 Bet?

You may have heard the phrase 3 bet watching poker on TV or at your local casino and wondered what it meant. A 3 Bet is the term used in poker to describe a specific re raise.  A 3 bet is typically made before the flop but can also be performed post flop. It is the third bet on a specific round. Check out examples below:

3 Betting Pre Flop Example

Player A calls £5 before the flop, Player B iso-raises to £20, Player C re-raises to £65 from the small blind. This raise by Player C is a “3 bet”. This is effectively the third bet, hence the phrase “3 bet”.

3 Betting Post Flop Example

Player A raises to £20 and Player B calls from the big blind. The flop is:

Player B checks, Player A bets £30 (1st bet) , Player B re-raises to £75 (2nd bet) and Player A puts in re raise to £225 (3rd bet or “3bet”).

What Can 3 Betting Mean?

A decade ago, a 3 bet before the flop usually meant a premium hand (Pocket Jacks or better) however, with the evolution of online poker and aggressive poker strategy, this is no longer the case. A pre flop 3 bet now can be given less credence, particularly with certain players.

The context, table demographic and opponent are the key factors when considering what to do in the face of this move. It is now used to isolate weak players, steal the pot pre flop, exploit a player opening too wide, balance a player’s re raise range or just to have the lead in the hand. This is why observing your opponents, taking notes and understanding their strategy is key to winning.

If you know player A knows you are opening 90% of hands on the button and is an observant, thinking player, he is likely to open his range of 3 betting range from the blinds.

When Should One 3 Bet?

Context and history is very important. If you are facing a player that is super tight when facing a re-raise, you can 3 bet almost with impunity. On the other hand, if you are facing a maniacal player who has shown tendency to move all in before the flop and 4 bet lightly. You should be more wary about 3 betting with nothing. Perhaps consider lessening your stacking off range and be prepared to hold on.

Conclusion

A 3 bet is an important weapon in a winning player’s arsenal. When used effectively, it can make you feel unbeatable, particularly when you’re doing it with rags. The key thing to remember when 3 betting or facing 3 bets, is making a calculated decision before the flop. Is your opponent likely to be holding a weak hand or not? If not, you are more often than not facing the dreaded Aces or Kings. Playing the player is critical when it comes down to 3 bets.

This article is just a brief guide on what 3 betting is. There’s far more strategy involved including what hands to do it with and from what position etc. If you are interested in learning more about 3 betting and how to incorporate them in your game. If this is of interest, why not book in a FREE 30 minute poker training consultation? Start by clicking below and we will be in touch soon.

Featured Photo by Tony Hand @mr_t55

Re-Raise Early Position Opens

A Tricky Re-Raise Against Early Position

When was the last time you 3 bet an early position raise with junk? How many times in your last session? This move is heavily underused these days and barely discussed. But, there is a lot to be said for putting in a re-raise again an early position open, from an active player. I find this play to be one of the most profitable pre flop moves available at the moment.

Why Bother ReRaising?


Most good thinking players have opened their game up. They are quite liberal opening from anywhere on the table these days, even early position. A good player will be opening suited connectors and suited aces from early position. Strong players open-raise these because they are hands with great play-ability and equity, even multi-way. They are representing something stronger so it fits in line with stories told post flop.

The great thing about players opening wider from early position is the opportunity to 3 bet them without resistance. They won’t hesitate to fold pre flop when facing a re raise as they no longer have the lead in the hand and want to play in position. The best way to counter this strategy is to simply re raise and pick it up before the flop. This works very well against the good players, and when you are in position in the hand. 

The weak players will often open raise wide pre flop too. Weak players will occasionally call the re-raise but then fold unless they flop something. A continuation bet is usually all that is needed to win the pot.

Either way, the strategy is effective against both types of player. The key component is that your opponent has shown a willingness to open wide from early position.

When is a Good Time to Re Raise?


You can do this at any point in a tournament. Please make sure you and your opponents have sufficient stack sizes. It’s important you are not committed for lots of chips. It’s usually a good idea to do this with hands that have poor equity or showdown value. That way you know you are not losing anything if you get 4 bet and you are unlikely to get stubborn post flop. You know you are playing this as a bluff. It’s ok to do it with ace rag too as this has some blocker value. 

I don’t recommend doing this with hands that play well post flop as much as you should be more inclined to play post flop with these hands, particularly in position.

This strategy was demonstrated recently in a low stakes MTT on PokerStars.  I made a point of trying to find as many opportunities to re-raise pre flop, in position. It’s quite fun to employ this strategy and very effective!

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