If you’ve played online poker at the micro or low stakes, you have encountered a maniac. We all know the type. He’s very active pre-flop – 3-betting, 4-betting, and 5-betting. His VPIP percentage is in the 60s or higher, and his PFR is in the 30s or higher. His chip stack fluctuates like the stock market.
These kinds of players can be very annoying to come up against, but instead of looking at them as a potential pain in the butt, you should be regarding them as a potential payday. Because if you make a few subtle adjustments to your game, you can score a big payout against these players.
Identify Yourself, Please
The first thing to do is to determine if the person is really a maniac. There are certain characteristics you are looking for. Maniacs almost never call pre-flop. They either raise or fold. They don’t pay much attention to position and almost always C-bet, even if they are out of position. They play way more hands than most players. If you are using tracking software, look for players with a VPIP of at least 60 percent.
It’s always possible that a player is just on a hot stretch of getting good, playable hands, or he’s on a temporary tilt bender and playing everything. That’s why it is important to correctly identify a player as a maniac before adjusting your strategy against him.
Fight Fire with Fire
When you find yourself in position with the maniac, fight back with a pre-flop re-raise when you have a strong hand. The maniac’s goal is to take down pots pre-flop. They don’t want to see flops, and they certainly don’t want to see a 4-bet. If you are raising with 10-7, do you want someone to re-raise you? They are relying on people being afraid to get into a hand with them.
If you hit them back with a really strong raise, chances are at least decent they will fold. The chances are better than decent that you have a stronger hand than they do, so if they call then you are building up a nice pot for yourself.
Set the Trap
Another strategy to employ to extract maximum value from maniacs is to slow play big hands. Don’t be afraid to just call his pre-flop action if you have aces or kings, or to check if you flop a set. Maniacs will pounce on any sign of weakness, and you can frequently get them to bet the flop and turn for you before they finally figure out you’re not going anywhere. By then there is a nice big pile of chips in the middle of the table with your name on it.
Obviously, you run the risk of letting him outdraw you when you slow play, but poker is a game of risk, and in this instance the risk is worth the reward. Slow playing a monster hand against a maniac will be profitable in the long run, even if he does wind up sucking out on you occasionally. It’s the suckouts, in fact, that keep maniacs playing the way they do.
If you are really uncomfortable playing against a maniac, then you always have the option of going to another table. But remember that most maniacs are typically bad players, and you want bad players at your table.