Jack "treetop" Straus
(1930 - August 1988) was an American professional poker player.
began playing Poker in the World Series of Poker events in the early
1970s. In 1982, Straus won the World Series of Poker main event,
earning $520,000 and a second WSOP bracelet.
Straus's 1982 win was a comeback after being down to a single $500
chip, supposedly the origin of the common tournament poker aphorism: "a
chip and a chair." Although accounts vary, the most common story is
that he pushed his chips into the pot, was called and lost the hand.
Getting up, he discovered he had one chip left under a napkin on the
table. Because he didn't declare himself all-in, the tournament
directors allowed him to continue playing. Modern lore says that this
feat occurred at the final table, but the 1983 classic book The Biggest Game in Town suggests that this occurred on the first day.
is credited with one of the most celebrated bluffs of all time. Whilst
playing in a high-stakes no limit Texas Hold'em cash game, Straus had
won several large pots in a row and so decided that he would raise the
next hand pre-flop with any two cards. When he looked down he found
that he had been dealt 7-2 offsuit, the worst starting hand in Texas
Hold'em, but, playing a 'rush', he raised anyway. Straus' raise was
called by a single opponent and the flop came 7-3-3. This was a good
flop for a 7-2, so Straus bet out. However his tight opponent made a
large raise, indicating a likely overpair to the board. Strauss knew he
was almost certainly behind, but he decided that he might be able to
beat his opponent by representing trip threes, so he called the large
The turn was a 2, for a
board of 7-3-3-2, which was no help to Straus with a better pair
already on the board, but he made a huge bet anyway. This set his
opponent thinking deeply. Straus knew that he was desperate to avoid a
call, as his chances of drawing out to win on the river were very slim.
After a few minutes, Straus offered his opponent a proposition. He told
him that for $25, he could choose either one of Straus's hole cards and
Straus would show it to him. The guy considered for a while, then
tossed Straus $25 and chose a card. Strauss showed him the deuce.
another long pause, his opponent eventually figured that Straus would
only make such an offer if both his hole-cards were deuces, therefore
giving him a full house, deuces over treys. He reluctantly folded, and
Jack Straus entered poker folklore as one of the most creative bluffers
of all time.
The bluff was depicted in the Stu Ungar biopic Stuey; however, Straus is not a character in the film and the bluff is credited to another player.
was nicknamed "Treetop" because he was 6'6"; he was a graduate of Texas
A&M. While it has been reported that he had played varsity
basketball there, his name does not appear on the school's all-time
list of basketball letter earners. Aside from his poker-playing, he was
well-known as a marksman, a big-game hunter, and wit. He died of a
heart attack in August 1988 at the age of 58, during a high stakes
poker game. He was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame later that year.