Planet Mark's Blog. Thoughts, News And Strategy For Poker Tournaments Of All Size

LOL Donkaments: Taking on the Maniacs

By Matthew "Yorkshire Pudding" Pitt

Here at Sit and Go Planet, we are fans of aggressive poker. By aggressive poker we mean we love betting and raising our way to victory, we don’t mean shouting and screaming in the faces of our opponents – although that does happen from time to time.

You see, aggressive poker is cool. Aggressive poker is profitable and aggressive poker is what you should be aiming to play whenever you log onto your favourite online poker site. Being aggressive gives you more chances to win – playing passively means you have to have the best hand in order to win – but some players take matters too far and become overly aggressive, which is actually counterproductive at the end of the day.

These hyper-aggressive players, often lovingly referred to as Maniacs, can be an absolute pain in the backside to play against, yet can be extremely profitable to take on if you handle them correctly. Remember the film Gremlins? You know, the one where the tiny, cute little Mogwai turns into a horrible Gremlin if you feed it after midnight and multiplies if you get it wet? Well taking on maniacs is similar except they’re already Gremlins and you want to turn them into cuddly Mogwais. OK, we’ve gone off on a slight tangent here, but you get where I am coming from, no?

Within five minutes of being on a maniac’s table you will know they are a manic. While they do not have a flashing blue light above their avatar to warn you of their presence, they will make it abundantly clear to you and your table mates that they are seated with you and are ready to go nuts!

Maniacs play fast, they play loose and usually with complete disregard for position. They’ll raise from anywhere at the table whenever they feel like it just because they can. Don’t get these guys – and sometimes gals – confused with loose-aggressive players because they are a whole different kettle of fish. Loose-aggressive (LAG) players have a game plan and you will often find that good LAGs have the goods when the money goes into the middle. A maniac will put his head on the line simply because he can.

Signs you are up against a maniac are constant raising, three-betting and four-betting preflop and continued aggression on later streets, aggression that seems relentless and uncontrolled.

When you first come up against a maniac, it is common to allow them to win the first few pots relatively uncontested as you attempt to get a feel for how they are playing. You may have let a strong hand go before realising shortly after that you probably made a mistake in folding to them because they have continued to go crazy against you and other players at your table. Don’t let this tilt you. Instead think of it as Maniac Tax, chips you have paid to the crazy lunatic that you are going to get back soon in the form of a nice rebate!

What a maniac perceives as its strength can actually be its biggest weakness; its over-reliance on aggression can be turned against it. Maniacs are the perfect candidates for slowplaying big hands against because they do all of the betting for you. Flop a set and check call your way to the river as they fire multiple barrels with whatever rubbish they have in their hand.

You don’t even need a hand as strong as a set in order to call down a maniac, a single pair is often the best hand. Sometimes ace-high will be more than enough to make a hero call with on the river. When you do have a set, you essentially have the nuts as a cash game hand I played recently shows. I opened the betting to $1.25 on the button with my pocket tens and the small blind, a complete aggro-monkey, three-bet to $3.50. The big blind folded and I opted to call. The flop came down 7h-3s-2d, which is pretty damn good for pocket tens against a mad man so when he bet $6.00 it was an easy call. I could probably have raised here to be fair but glad I didn’t as the turn was the Th, which essentially gave me the nuts in this situation. Villain now checked, I bet $11 and he instantly jammed all in for around $60 in total. I obviously called and guess what villain held? Ks-Jh for complete air and 0% equity! Well played, sir. Well played. Had I been sat there with 66 or AK then maybe he’d have won a big pot, but this time his own aggression worked against him.

If faced with a maniac, loosen your starting hand requirements when you are in position against him and start to three-bet him lighter. Sometimes, you have to take them on at their own game and start being slightly maniacal yourself and fight fire with fire. Remember that you don’t need premium holdings to take them on. Just remember not to get them wet or feed them after midnight.


PS: Loose passive fish are everybodies favorite money maker - you can find the fishiest poker sites for your bankroll, geo and game preference via the infamous Fish-o-Meter Widget here!


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