All You Need to Know About Poker Straddles in 2024

All You Need to Know About Poker Straddles in 2024

Whenever you watch one of the high-stakes game shows on the internet, you will hear “the straddle is on” quite often, but you might not quite understand what it means. 

Poker straddles in Texas Holdem poker are voluntary blind bets that players place before the cards are even dealt, and they typically increase the overall size of the game. 

While there are several types of poker straddles, the size of each straddle is always at least 2x the big blind, forcing everyone to put more chips into the pot if they want to play. 

In this article, we will explain how poker straddles work, when they can be placed, and whether or not it makes sense to use them in your poker games. Let’s start by explaining the basic poker straddle and when exactly it comes into play. 

What Is a Straddle in Poker?

Typically, the word straddle is used in poker to describe a voluntary bet placed by the player to the left of the big blind before the cards are dealt. 

what is a poker straddle

The size of the straddle should always be exactly two times the big blind. So, in a $5/10 game, the UTG player would have to place $20 into the pot in order to straddle. 

Once the UTG player has straddled, the player to their left now has the option to re-straddle unless the game does not allow it. 

In some cash games, only one straddle is allowed, while in others, no straddling is allowed. Straddles are not used in poker tournaments

In many private cash games, multiple players are allowed to straddle, which is why you will often see a $1/2 game go up to as high as $32 before the flop, as players look to get unstuck on the night and seek to play big pots and get lucky. 

The only advantage of placing a straddle is that you get to act last before the flop. 

Instead of going first and usually having to fold, the player in the straddle can now go last and see everyone else act on their hand before the action comes to them. 

Sleeper Straddle and Mississippi Straddle

Apart from the regular UTG straddle, some poker games allow for two other types of straddles, called sleeper straddle and Mississippi straddle. 

A sleeper straddle can be placed by any player at the table and can be worth any amount they choose in most cases. 

For instance, in a $2/5 game, the player in the cutoff can place a $100 sleeper straddle. In this case, the action starts with the UTG player. 

If any of the players before the sleeper straddle decides to enter the pot, the sleeper straddle is not “live,” and the player gets to act on their hand any way they choose to. 

On the other hand, if other players fold over to the sleeper, their straddle is now live, with action skipping them and going to the next player. 

The player who posted the sleeper straddle gets to play the last preflop but will not have that same privilege on other streets, depending on their position. 

Mississippi straddle

A Mississippi straddle, on the other hand, can only be placed by the player on the dealer button, and it can also be made to any size, with a minimum of 2x the big blind (higher in some games). 

When a Mississippi straddle is posted, the player in the small blind must play first, and the action goes around the table, with the dealer having the last action both preflop and on subsequent betting streets. 

A Mississippi straddle is considered advantageous in some games, namely Pot Limit Omaha, and some players refuse to play with Mississippi straddles as they believe they give an unfair advantage to the button. 

Should I Straddle in My Games

Now that you know what a poker straddle is, the logical question is whether or not you should post straddles in your games. 

The answer to the question is a resounding no, with a few exceptions. In most cases, posting a straddle is a –EV play that does not contribute anything to your bottom line. 

By posting the UTG straddle, you are simply putting chips into the pot before looking at your cards when you could instead just do that.

While you will get to go last preflop and sometimes have a chance to re-raise with your strong hands or good bluffs, you will also usually be out of position against any players who decide to call you in these situations. 

You will also be forced to play more hands from out of position against small preflop raises, in a similar way you are in the big blind, but this is not a favorable position to be in. 

While there is no way to avoid the blinds (as much as we would love to), avoiding the straddle is easy as you don’t have to post it. 

Sleeper straddles are even more insane, as they contribute very little extra value while often putting you in difficult spots. These straddles are only ever posted by major gamblers who are looking to gamble instead of playing poker. 

Finally, the Mississippi straddle is the only one that can make sense on occasion, as it allows the player on the button to gain some advantage by acting last preflop. 

Since this player also gets to act last on all other streets and retain the position, a Mississippi straddle is a good way to take control in some games, especially if your table is soft and easy to dominate. 

Still, playing good out of the Mississippi straddle also requires a high level of poker strategy, and most players will be torching money when they post this type of preflop bet without being forced to as well. 

So Is There Ever a Time to Straddle?

There are definitely some situations in which straddling makes some sense, and this can be for a variety of reasons. 

Deep stack straddles

First of all, you may be playing in a cash game with extremely deep effective stacks. Straddling in such a game can make sense as the effective stack could still be 500 big blinds or more after the straddle, leaving plenty of room to play on each street. 

In such games, you will often see all players at the table post at least one straddle, and being the only one not doing it could be considered rude. 

While you are completely within your rights not to post any straddles, posting the UTG straddle when it’s on you will be appreciated by the other players. 

If everyone at the table is straddling, you are not giving up any EV by straddling along. While you could add some extra EV by not doing it, you don’t want to do so at the expense of being hated by everyone at the table. 

As far as strategic reasons go, straddling in games where the table is very tight and not very aggressive can be advantageous. 

With most players just limping into pots and only raising their premium holdings, you will get to make the game bigger, make your opponents play out of their comfort zone, and dominate the table. 

Even still, straddling too much can backfire and cause you to become the sucker at the table, so make sure you know what you are doing and why before you put any chips into the pot that you don’t have to. 

Bankroll Considerations of Poker Straddles

Going into a poker game, you should make sure you understand what the blinds are and how many of the players at the table are willing to straddle to what amount. 

Of course, there is no exact way to know this before you start playing, but you can usually get a pretty good feel for it an hour or so into the game. 

While players posting straddles in your game is definitely a net positive for you, you should also be aware of the effect straddles have on the size of the game and pot odds

Imagine you sit down at a $1/2 table with a $200 buyin. At this point, you are playing with 100 big blinds and can approach the game with an appropriate strategy. 

Very soon, players at the table start straddling to $4, with some choosing to straddle to $8 and even $16 on occasion. 

The thing to remember is that in the hands straddled to $8, you are playing with just 25 big blinds, while in those straddled to $16, you are playing with a mini stack of 12.5 big blinds. 

While this can be great if you pick up some hands and either pick up the blinds or get a light stack-off for an opportunity to double up, it will also add tons of variance to the game. 

A stack of $200 that would normally only go into the pot in situations that warrant it can now go into the middle with a pair of sixes or AT before the flop. 

When playing in games with a lot of straddles, be sure that you have a bankroll that can sustain quite a few beats or allow you to buyin deeper and play the game as if the blinds were higher throughout the game.

Scroll to Top