Calling the String Bet

The rule in many card rooms these days regarding string bets is that the bet stands unless a player calls the string bet. I hate this rule. It’s the only rule that players can enforce and dealers can’t, and it opens up what amounts to a legal way to angle shoot against inexperienced opponents.

I saw a hand recently that illustrates the point.

A player who was obviously new to casino poker made a string raise against a single opponent who was a regular in the game. The regular called the string raise, forcing the new player to simply call. The new player’s intent was clear, he intended to raise, but because of the way he put his chips in the pot he was forced to call while also having revealed the strength of his hand.

The regular was remarkably honest, commenting that “I know what you meant to do, but I can’t call that raise so I have to call the string.”  I was surprised that the new player wasn’t angry since his opponent had openly admitted to using the letter of the law to circumvent the spirit of fair play. He was new enough that he may not have been comfortable speaking up.

Any rule that allows players who lack morals to make more money than those who believe in fair play is simply a bad rule. I’m all for making every nickel I can against bad players, I have bills to pay after all, but I draw the line at directly trading advantage of rules they don’t understand.

If dealers were required to call string bets, as they are in tournaments, then the rule can be fairly enforced. The new player will still be at a disadvantage, but they won’t be at the mercy of an opponent who gets to decide whether the bet stays or not.

There are two major flaws with this rule in addition to the lack of fair enforcement.

First, the new player will often feel like they have been taken advantage of, or embarrassed because they lost money because of a clear lack of knowledge of the rules. They may even feel like the casino chose to side with a regular instead of the new guy. We don’t want new players to feel discouraged or they may not come back.

Second, this type of selective enforcement means that players who are rude, unscrupulous, or willing to angle shoot, will make more money. This encourages their behavior, making the games less pleasant for everyone.

Let’s change this rule and get it in line with the TDA rule set so that the dealer is the only person at the table charged with directly enforcing rules.

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  1. #1 by PokerGeekMN on December 28, 2013 - 2:58 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree. I’ve always hated that this rule isn’t consistently enforced. I’ve gone to always calling the string bet, even if it is disadvantageous to me, just to have it be consistent. Of course I don’t feel I can call it if I’m not involved in the hand. I’m much rather have it be the rule rather that a rule “if I feel like it”.

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