What Difference Does It Make?
Here is the setting, to be followed by a question:
I’m at a private poker game on Saturday night in someone’s garage. The house takes a rake on this game and provides a dealer. Most of the players are regulars and know each other quite well. The game is no limit Texas Hold’em, with blinds at $1/2 and the buy-in is capped at $300.
The house uses the Mississippi Straddle rule, whereby a live straddle can be posted for any amount, in any position, which makes straddles from the button very common. If two players both want to post a straddle, the player with last position has priority.
At this game, one player has been posting a $5 straddle virtually every time he has the button. For purposes of this blog, I’ll call him “John.” Several hours into the game, John has the button but the player on his right – who I’ll call “Joe” – announces a straddle and places his $5 chip in front before John has a chance to do anything. [Sorry about the boring names here – “John” and “Joe” – maybe I just don’t feel very creative right now, or maybe that’s a reflection of the material I have to work with.]
Joe had just returned from a short break, during which he missed his both of the blinds. To get back in the game immediately, he is required to post the $3 he avoided by sitting out. Alternatively, for $2 extra, he converts the entire amount into a straddle and reserve the right to act last in the pre-flop betting round.
Before the cards are dealt, someone remarks that John usually straddles when he has the button, and Joe offers to pull the extra $2 back if John wants to straddle again for this hand. Instead, John says to Joe to leave his straddle out there; it’s no problem. After the cards are dealt, John has to act first, and he calls the $5 straddle prior to looking at his cards.
Then John says, innocently, “What difference does it make?”
Somebody on the end of the table repeats this question and a couple others chuckle slightly, which makes me decide to posit the question here in the blog. What difference does it make?
Let’s try making this an interactive blog post, by asking my dear readers to post comments answering John’s question. What is John likely thinking when he asks “What difference does it make?” Is there actually a difference, and if so what is it? How should each player – and the other players at the table – adjust their thinking or actions in response to what Joe and John have said and done here?
Please leave your comments below.
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