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Aces Full of It: Pushing the “Crazy Button”

September 23rd, 2015 by Justin Buchanan
Pushing the "Crazy Button" (Image: dancemusicnw.com)

Pushing the “Crazy Button” (Image: dancemusicnw.com)

Sometimes, I get pretty weird with words.  The use of “donkus anytwous” in my first (and yes, I will be following up on it) Making the Donkey Walk article may have been your first clue to that, actually.

So, it’s possible that some of you are familiar with what I’m going to cover here and call it something else; please do share if this is the case. What I’m going to talk about here is the unusual, anomalous act, that sometimes occurs in poker that I call “pushing the crazy button.”

Crazy Button Basics

Pushing the crazy button is, at essence, an instance where a single reckless aggressive act at a poker table precipitates an overall increase of the number of recklessly aggressive plays at that table.  It’s not enough for one player to simply indulge in several recklessly large bets in succession.

The act of the first player being significantly more aggressive than the blinds warrant must precede one or more other players betting similarly, though not necessarily directly on the next hand. Most importantly, these other players must not be players who ordinarily bet and raise disproportionate amounts based on all data you can observe on them.

Most commonly, the recklessness is in the form of pre-flop shoves.  I could just be out of my mind here, but I swear I’ve seen people shove pre-flop in not just freerolls, but micro stakes tournaments and sit and goes (though it’s more rare in non-freerolls), then suddenly, in the next few hands, several players get everything in, who had made no indication that they are the kind of player who would do that.  It’s as though the first player to shove- hit a button then makes the table go crazy!

As for why this phenomenon exists or at least appears to exist to me, I can only speculate on some kind of psychological herd mentality effect, a perspective that is entirely foreign to me.

Yeeeah.... that.

Yeeeah…. that. (Image: chamberofcommerce.com)

So again, if you have any insight here, please don’t hesitate to share–I’m genuinely curious about this whole thing.  Then again, a lot of you probably aren’t.  A lot of you probably recognize the situation I’m talking about, but aren’t curious about it at all and are just wondering if I’ll ever actually go into how to deal with being placed in a situation where the crazy button has been pressed, if I’ll ever…

How to Counteract the Crazy Button

This may seem obvious to some of you, but the first and most important thing to do when faced with a crazy button situation is to not get caught up in the crazy yourself.  Don’t join the herd, whatever you do, it’s a herd of lemmings diving off a cliff!

Unfortunately, depending on how long the situation lasts, you’re going to have to basically not play poker for a while until things cool down.  In a crazy button situation which is still a long ways off from the bubble, if more than one person has shoved behind me pre-flop, I would legitimately consider folding pocket aces pre-flop depending on who has who covered.

Dun dun DUUUUUUUUN!

Dun dun DUUUUUUUUN! (Image: dailynews.com)

Blasphemy, I know.  Honestly, it’s a really simple scenario so there’s not much to cracking it: just keep calm and don’t change your game.  If you’d play a situation normally, go ahead and play it under crazy button conditions; like if there’s only one pre-flop shove, I have aces, and I can go over the top to deter those yet to act.

The most important thing to remember is that even in a freeroll, a crazy button situation is temporary.  If you don’t have enough chips to ride it out for one round, you probably should be shoving pre-flop anyway right?

Except of course for Hyper Turbo short stack MTTs. Those are basically “crazy button” all the time, and by necessity.  I wouldn’t recommend them if you’re looking for a remotely sane game.

In closing, I’d like to ask you all again: please, share your thoughts!  Have you run into this?  Is it annoying to you as it is to me?  Am I just out of my mind and this isn’t a thing?  Is it a thing, but I’m being stupid and calling it something wrong?  Leave comments below!

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4 Responses to “Aces Full of It: Pushing the “Crazy Button””

  1. teepack Says:

    I call it “All-in Fever” – an otherwise undiagnosed illness that causes multiple poker players at the same table to simultaneously lose the ability for rational thought.

  2. xzx Says:

    Better luck next time mate 🙂

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    Cheers !

  3. rifflemao Says:

    “In a crazy button situation which is still a long ways off from the bubble, if more than one person has shoved behind me pre-flop, I would legitimately consider folding pocket aces pre-flop depending on who has who covered.”

    I would not fold AA, especially far from the bubble. In fact, I’d be looking for any hand that might help me capitalize on the crazy, and would definitely call with any pair, and maybe a suited connector like TJ. Someone is going to win a ton of chips, and naturally you want it to be you. These are great spots to gamble and set up a FT run.

    They can also good spots in micro cash games, where players also engage in “donkey bingo”. I recently tried a recommendation of BlackRain79, which is to call a habitual shover with any ace. It went like this: A8o>78o for half of his stack, then AQo>JJ for the rest. Within five minutes, I had won 2 buyins. Ok, so AQo wasn’t much of a risk there, but on the resulting board any ace would have won. Sometimes it pays to gamble with the crazies. 🙂

  4. NE2win Says:

    The same illness sometimes presents with different symptoms, I often encounter a strain I call “Straddle fever” at a venue where I play a weekly tournament. Once an infected player has joined the table, following players are cross-infected, and re-infected for several subsequent orbits. With each re-infection, the symptoms become more severe and longer lasting. As a result, after an hour it is not unusual to see the Hijack pre-committed for 12 BB’s before they’ve even seen a flop. Fortunately, the illness usually kills off the hosts faster than it can spread by this stage, and the “cray cray” table is broken up shortly afterwards. It’s an interesting metaphor for “herd immunity” which anti-vaxxers would do well to study.

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