Jack Straus, nicknamed "Treetop" because of his height (well above six feet), was a legendary Texas Hold ’em player, known for his aggressive and imaginative poker strategies.
Jack Straus was known for carrying his money stuffed haphazardly into a brown paper bag. Apparently he lost this bag more than once, and was left broke! He is recorded as having said "I have only a limited amount of time on this earth, and I want to live every second of it."
Straus entered his first World Series of Poker events in the early 1970s. He finished fourth in the main event in 1972 and third in the main event in 1973, when he also won his first bracelet in the $3,000 Deuce to Seven Draw event.
In 1982, Jack Straus won the World Series of Poker main event, earning the first prize of $520,000. He is only one of very few players to have made it to the main event final table three times – together with the likes of Dan Harrington, Doyle Brunson, Stu Ungar, Johnny Chan and Johnny Moss.
His win in 1982 is especially famous of the comeback it represented – Straus was down to a single $500 chip, which he discovered hidden under a napkin, before his luck started to turn.
John Straus is also famous for one of the most remarkable Texas Hold ’em bluffs of all time. After having won several pots consecutively, Straus bet heavily on a round. With 7-2 hole cards in hand, a flop of 7-3-3 and a turn card of 2, his chances of a win at the river were slim. In a desperate bid to avoid being called, he then offered to show his opponent any one of his two hole cards for the fee of $25. Straus showed the deuce and – assuming that his other card must be another deuce for him to have taken such a chance – his opponent folded.
Jack Straus died of a heart attack in 1988, while playing in a high-stakes poker game in Las Vegas at the Bicycle Club in Bell Gardens.
The Frontier Casino in Las Vegas held a top poker tournament named after Jack Straus for several years.