Blind Play – Traditional Straddle and Mississippi Straddle Bets

10689455_284622311747424_8066851592782668663_nIf you’ve ever played a Texas Holdem cash game, you probably know that there are several variations.  We’ve spoken about bounty before, however today we’re going to be discussing two other betting practices that you can try.  Note – neither of these are legal in tournament play, and are generally considered bad plays.

Both these options are available during the blind phases of play, which means, before the cards are dealt and must be declared when acting.

Traditional Straddle:

Straddling are optional bets placed during this period.  A traditional straddle is only available for the player to the immediate left of the big blind, basically the first player to act.  That player has the option to call a straddle bet, which would require them to pay double the big blind.  As mentioned, this bet is done prior to the cards being dealt to the players.  This now forces all subsequent players to pay the new minimum of that round, which is double the big blind.

To explain, let’s say the game is $1/$2, no limit.  Before the cards are dealt, the two players paying the blinds would put their respective bets, in other words, from right to left, it would be:

  1. Seat 1 player – Button
  2. Seat 2 player – Small Blind ($1)
  3. Seat 3 player – Big Blind ($2)
  4. Seat 4 player – Straddle player 1 ($4+)
  5. Seat 5 player – Straddler 2 ($8+)
  6. Seat 6 player – Straddler 3 ($16+)
  7. Seat 7 player – first to act.

As the above list suggests, there can be more than one straddle, but it can only exist if the next player immediately after the straddler continues the bet, and as mentioned, the bet needs to be double or more the previous bet.  Also, please note, if you’re straddle betting, that means the next person in that chain will be the first to act once the cards are dealt, meaning, seat 1 had the button, and as per the example above, then seat 7 would be the first to act, once cards are dealt with a cost of $16+ to call (depending on what the last straddle bet was), unlike a traditional game, where seat 4 would be the first to act, with $2 to call.

Again, per standard rules, the round of betting would occur until all bets are made, and then the flop would be dealt.

Mississippi Straddle:

This optional bet is available to any player that is not under the gun or on the blinds.  In other words, this is available for any player not the small or the big blind, and if it’s done by the player under the gun (seat 3), then it’s just a traditional straddle.

A Mississippi, as mentioned, can be done by any player other than those mentioned above, and can be done by the player on the dealer button.  Minimum bet would have to be double the big blind, and as per the traditional straddle, subsequent players can straddle on top of the mississippi player, but they would have to be immediately after the last straddler.  You cannot skip players to continue a straddle streak – this goes with both variations.

Also, per the traditional straddle, the player to the left of the last straddle gets to go first, once all the cards are dealt.  It would look something like this:

  1. Seat 1 player – Button
  2. Seat 2 player – Small Blind ($1)
  3. Seat 3 player – Big Blind ($2)
  4. Seat 4 player – under the gun
  5. Seat 5 player
  6. Seat 6 player – Mississippi Straddler 1 ($4+)
  7. Seat 7 player – Straddler 2 ($8+)
  8. Seat 8 – First to act.

The caller in seat 8 would have to call with whatever the last bet was, in this case $8 or raise the bet by doubling it.

Can you Straddle after 3rd street?

Yes, you can, but that would require declaring that you’re betting blind, and would still require that player to bet at least the minimum bet, which would be the big blind.  Again, if you choose to do this, all subsequent straddlers have to be to the immediate player after the last straddler and the bet needs to be doubled the last.  The first to act once the community card is dealt would be the player that ended the straddling streak.

What’s the benefit of straddling?

If you’re at a table of tight players, straddling scares players out of hands faster, since the requirement to stay in would be double the big blind, to start.  It’s not good in situations where everyone is playing fast and loose, since there’s a likely chance that folks will buy in, whatever the cost, just to play.

Straddling is generally a poor playing practice that’s generally used to spice up the game, and is only beneficial in rare situations, and only practical if you’re ahead at the table as a way to bully players.

If you do choose to play it that way, watch your competition first to see if it’s worth throwing bets blindly into the pot, otherwise you’re just giving it away.