Thinking About Poker: Variations 2
The last article I submitted to you, faithful reader, concerned some of the poker variations I have encountered while traveling about the country. The straddle – also known as the ‘Mississippi Straddle’ was mentioned first. This comes about when a player places a bet, usually double the big blind, from some other position than either of the blinds. Action then begins with the player to the left of the straddler and then the game is played normally. The Mississippi Straddle is again a bet usually double the big blind but placed by the player on the button with action beginning with the small blind player. I have seen straddles of several times the big blind as well and this is working its way into play at many of the Colorado poker rooms.
The second variation I have seen is the use of ‘Overs’ buttons. If a player so choses, they get an ‘Overs’ button from the dealer and when/if the only players left in the hand have these buttons in front of them, the betting levels double. This is normally played in fixed limit games where some players wish to play for higher stakes, for example: In a $10 – $20 game half the players have ‘Overs’ buttons. Play is run at the normal $10/$20 limits with bets and raises post-flop at $20 increments. But if the only players remaining all have ‘Overs’ buttons, the betting and raising are done at $40 increments. If anyone remaining in the hand does not have one of these buttons, then the game is played normally at the nominal $10/$20 levels.
So, in such a limit game I was asked if I would play ‘Overs’ and having experienced this before I readily agreed. Played correctly this wrinkle in the game can be very profitable, especially when there are a number of loose-aggressive players in the game. I will warn you, it’s not a game for passive players, rocks or those who may be squeamish about swings in their stacks size. It can turn into a wild chip-fest with markers levitating about the table like the wicked witch’s flying monkeys.
Of a table seating nine, six of us had these buttons so the doubling of the bets did not happen every hand; but when there were just the six of us – or fewer but all presenting that little round button – play got a little, shall we say, rambunctious. My first hand where we ended up playing overs was K – K which stood up to an A – Q suited attack, especially when a queen appeared on the turn. It was only me against him but showing my hand – and one or two others downstream when the showdown came – established me as a solid player who really has what he represents. This excellent advertising was to serve me well later when I made some bets with busted hands and my opponents folded to the reputation. Gotta love those plays.
One hand I do recall vividly was when seven players saw the flop after only one raise prior. I had K – Q suited and felt it was worth seeing the flop from semi-early position. The flop paired my king and gave me a flush draw and after the betting there were only four of us left, all with the ‘Overs’ buttons prominently in front of our stacks. Now each bet and raise was $40 and after I lead out was called by the next player and raised by the one after that with everyone else calling the $80 raise. The turn was another queen, so now I had top two and second-nut flush draw and the betting went the same way with one player dropping out.
The river was another king making me a Kings-over-Queens full house; I bet out and with now just one caller showed my hand. He flashed pocket queens and with a grimace and a polite ‘nice catch’ mucked his cards. I would have to go over this hand carefully to tell you exactly how much I slipped into my stack, but I will tell you it took me another three to four hands to get all the chips neatly placed in front of me. All-in-all, my night was just about a grand to the good.
So, if you ever find yourself where they play ‘Overs’, jump right in – the water’s f-f-f-fine. It can be a wild ride but playing correctly, reading your opponents and stepping out taking a risk now and then, it can be a fun and lucrative night.
Just keep thinking about poker!