Playing Against Maniacs

Poker ManiacLast night I was playing an 18 player tournament and noticed one player early on playing a lot of hands.

Now, just because a person is playing a lot of hands doesn’t make him a maniac but in this case I would put this label on this player because he always made a continuation bet that was aggressive.  The hands he did show were mediocre at best.  Hands like Q-10, K-9, Q-J … you get the picture.

He would always start by raising it up 3 to 4 times the big blind and then making a continuation bet of 75% to 100% of the pot after the flop.  Most opponents folded.

Now, at this point you might ask yourself, is this guy just trying to build his stack early or is he truly a maniac?  Well, it doesn’t really matter at this point because you have to play with him at the table anyway so the real question is how do you play him?

Always have a Hand

What you have to remember is no matter what he is playing you have to have something to play back at him with.  Maniac’s are the perfect candidates for trapping.  They see you checking a flop and take it as a sign of weakness which usually means your going to win a big pot unless luck intervenes.

In the tournament I was speaking of I got Aces about mid way through the early stage and was in the cutoff position.  The maniac was under the gun in first position and as usual made it 3 times the big blind.  It folded to me and I re-raised to double his bet.

It folded to him and he instantly called.  The flop came 9-6-A.  I waited awhile to act and then checked making him think I’m unsure or at least I’m hoping that’s what I’m doing.  Of course he bets the pot.  Again I wait and then go all in.  He calls with K-6!  I double up, cripple him and get in a great position for the rest of the tournament.

Whenever I start a tournament, unless I get a premium hand, I like to wait and see what kind of table it is and get a feel for some of the players before I get involved in any hands.

When I see someone who I would label a maniac I usually just sit in the weeds and trap him when I get a playable hand. In fact it is probably one of the only situations that I advocate the slow play. I also make sure that when we get it all in that the %’s are stacked in my favour.  Sometimes even if I play a hand with the maniac I fold as quickly as I got in waiting for a better opportunity.

For example, one orbit before the Aces, I got Ah-9h.  I called the maniac’s bet of 2 times the big blind.  The flop had 2 hearts and the maniac bet the pot after I checked.  I folded.  I immediately thought about what it would have cost me to see the turn and the river and folded.  I might also point out I acted the same way.  I waited after the flop and then checked.  A fold after his bet just ‘set him up’ for the next time we locked horns and I had was in a better position.

It’s important to stay disciplined when you are playing a maniac.  You must be prepared to fold even if you think you might have the better hand.  And remember Poker and Emotions don’t mix, never ever let a maniac wind you up, just remain calm and wait in the bushes ready to pounce.

When you wait for the right opportunity against a maniac it usually means you will be doubling up or close to it.

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