Playing against maniacs

In this section, we’ll look at:

Wild-eyed and crazy-haired they might not be, but maniacs can be a whirling dervish of destruction through the placid waters of strategy and technicality that usually make up a poker game.

Who are these madmen?

Like a loose player on a spending spree, maniacs play more hands, bet more, raise more and re-raise even more until the game is played for significantly higher stakes. This kind of crazy play changes the dynamics of the game.

Spot a maniac

Here’s how to spot a maniac player:

  • They’ve got more than an average number of chips at a table
  • They play more hands than normal
  • They raise and re-raise more often than normal
  • They bluff far more than normal

How to beat one

There’s a couple of ways to take on a maniac:

  1. Position is critical. Sit immediately left of the maniac if you can, but never sit on the immediate right. Play tight in an early position and aggressive or tight-aggressive in a late one
  2. Get the better hand. This might seem obvious, but if you’ve got a great hand you can coax a maniac into pouring cash into the pot by raising and re-raising them
  3. In a tight game, check and call and/or check-raise more often. Induce bluffs and call down the maniac’s bets
  4. In a standard game, re-raise more often to isolate the maniac. Call down bets and raises
  5. In a wild game, don’t try and isolate the maniac. Play suited-connectors, pairs and ace-suited hands more often. Check and call when the odds are in your favour
  6. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever attempt to bluff a maniac

Happy but broke

Here’s how you keep a maniac happy while you take all their money. By definition, maniacs are usually losing players because they’re playing too much. They’re here to enjoy themselves, whether they win or not, so let them. Don’t be mean or make negative comments as they’ll soon take their piles of cash elsewhere. Let them think they can dominate the table and that you’re easily manipulated, then pounce on a big pot!