A straddle in poker is a voluntary bet usually made by the person to the immediate left of the big blind. The purpose of the straddle bet is to generate more action, meaning bigger pots.
Let’s take a look at the following example to see how a straddle would play out in a typical $1/$3 No Limit Hold’em game, as in here at The Lodge.
In this example, the small blind ($1) and big blind ($3) post their blinds as usual. Before the cards are dealt, the player to the immediate left of the big blind, also known as under-the-gun, now has the option to place a blind bet of at least two times the size of the big blind, so at least $6, all before the cards are dealt.
The player that made the straddle bet now acts as the big blind for all action prior to the flop. Meaning, the player to the left of the one who made the straddle bet can now either fold, call the $6, or raise as normal. Pre-flop action now ends on the person who made the straddle bet, where they can either check, raise, or fold to a bigger bet.
After the flop, action resumes as normal, with all positions acting as usual.
Mandatory Straddle and Multiple Voluntary Straddle Exceptions
A straddle is usually a voluntary bet. In some casinos and card rooms, there are games with mandatory straddle rules.
Examples of those games running at The Lodge currently include two Big-O games that run at $1/$2/$5. The $5 both indicates that the game is a mandatory straddle game, and the size of the straddle.
Additionally, if you use our first example, the voluntary straddles can continue after the first straddle bet. The player to the left of the person who made the bet $6, can now elect to make a straddle bet of $12 (or more, as long as it’s at least two times the previous straddle bet). The player to the left of the $12 better can now make it $24. Remember, that all this action is voluntary in this example.
Straddle rules vary from room-to-room, from allowing out of position straddles, up to not allowing straddles at all. Ask a dealer or floor person the straddle rules prior to taking your seat, so you know what to expect before you play your first pot.
Want to come play some action-packed poker in Texas? Check out the cash games and tournaments offered at The Lodge Card Club: