ALL ABOUT POKER:
YOU WON’T EARN RESPECT WITH A STRADDLE BET
By Bill Burton
Bill Burton is the Casino Gambling Guide and columnist for the Internet portal About.com located at:www.casinogambling.about.com. He is the author of "1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets" (available online at www.billburton.com) and "Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold'em" (available at 10% discount at our BJI store). Bill is also an instructor for Golden Touch Craps: www.thecrapsclub.com
I am occasionally asked where I get the ideas for my monthly poker column. The answer is simple. I get them from playing poker and observing the players and different situations that arise at the table. I will usually see something that sparks an idea, and this month’s column comes from a game that I played on the opening day of the new poker room at the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut.
It was very crowded so I put my name on the waiting list for several different Limit Hold’em games. A seat opened in a $4/8 limit game, and although it was not my first choice, I took it. I was in seat six in the middle of the table and it took me only a few minutes to determine that the player in the 10 seat was a very loose and loud player. When this player was under the gun (first person to act after the big blind), he would always put up a straddle bet.
The Straddle Bet
A straddle bet, or "live straddle" as it is sometimes called, is when the player who is first to act after the big blind raises twice the amount of the big blind before the cards are dealt. It is essentially a double big blind and it takes the option away from the big blind, who is usually the last person to act pre-flop.
Before the flop, the big blind is the last person to act and if the pot was not raised the big blind has the option of checking, or raising. If the pot has been raised, the big blind has the option of folding, calling, or re-raising. However, since the straddle was made before the cards were dealt, the option moves to the player making the straddle bet, who has the option to call or re-raise his own straddle bet. If the pot is raised, the player who made the straddle bet has the option of folding, calling or re-raising. I have never seen a player who made a straddle bet fold to a re-raise. In fact, most of the time, the player will re-raise because he wants the added action.
For example: In a $4/8 game the small blind is two dollars and the big blind is four dollars. The amount of the straddle bet is eight dollars. If a player wants to raise the straddler, they would go up another four dollars making the bet $12. (In limit games you have to raise in increments equaling the big blind.) The straddler could then raise to $16.
Playing Against a Straddle
Players who make straddle bets are there to gamble. They are very loose players who want more action. Sometimes they have just won a few pots and feel invincible, or they are trying to intimidate the other players. A player making the straddle bet may be on tilt or intoxicated. No matter what the reason, it is a bad bet that smart players usually don't make.
The best way to play against a straddle bet is to play tight because it will cost you more money to enter the pot. Only play the hands that you would normally play if there was a raise in front of you. If you have a big hand such as pocket Aces or Kings, you can confidently raise knowing that the straddler will call your raise or re-raise you. Occasionally, you may have to loosen up against a straddler. If the game is very tight and everyone folds when a player makes a straddle bet, that player will keep doing it to steal the blinds. This is what happened in the game I was playing in.
After the third time the loose player made a straddle bet, four players called the straddle bet along with the straddler’s optional raise. After the river card was dealt, there were three clubs on board and one player turned over his hole cards showing the seven and nine of clubs for a flush. As it turned out the player who made the straddle bet had caught a legitimate hand and had a pair of kings. As he tossed his losing hand into the much he said, "Nobody respects a raise around here!"
If you want respect you have to earn it, and making straddle bets is not the way to do it.
Until Next time remember:
Luck comes and goes.....Knowledge Stays Forever.
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