How do I beat the maniacs?

Boltneck

Boltneck

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I play almost exclusively ring games (10 seater) at low limit (25c / 50c) Holdem. My typical game is tight (and aggressive post flop, though somewhat less so pre flop). I beat most games most of the time at this level without problem. However, I always seem to struggle at a table that contains one or more maniacs. My normal ‘tactic’ in these situations is to find another table, but I can’t help feel that I’m missing out on potential profit by not learning how to beat the maniac. I’ll give a typical recent example of a game that I stayed in for a while.

Maniac – VP$IP 82; PFR 32; AF (post flop) 1.7
Table average – VP$IP 36; PFR 9.2 (and generally VERY passive)
Me (average over 4500 hands, not just this table) - VP$IP 15.8; PFR 4.7; AF (post flop) 3.5

After only a brief observation, it was obvious that the maniac was raising (and reraising) pre flop with any ace, or any suited cards. He was a little less predictable, and a little less aggressive post flop (though still no shrinking violet).

Having discussed this issue briefly in a poker table chat room on a previous occasion, the perceived wisdom seemed to be that I should loosen up a bit in these situations. That sounds logical enough if you can isolate the maniac, but isolating the maniac is often easier said than done. My tactics (on the rare occasions when I remain at such a table) is to play ultra tight in early positions, but loosen up in later positions with drawing hands (eg low / medium suited connectors and possibly A rag suited) but only when there are plenty of player seeing the flop. Obviously, if I’m in late positions with the maniac isolated, I’ll play (and raise / reraise) with many more hands than I normally would. Maybe I’m just unlucky, but I nearly always seem to come out of such games with a deficit.

Maybe I'm just not suited to this type of game and should stay clear, but if anyone has any advice on how to play such situations it would be much appreciated. Apologies if this is not the correct forum for this issue.

Boltneck
 
J

jeffred1111

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If the maniac is to your left, sadly, there's not much you can do apart from shelling up and playing only premiums to the bone since he'll have position on you pretty much all the time: leaving is fine here since table/seat selection is primordial to a high $/hour. If he is to your right, you have found a new friend: you have the best seat at the table, milk it for all it's worth.

Milking the Maniac:
1) Playing looser or trying to out-maniac the maniac is not going to work: he is better than you at it. Play your normal game and act accordingly to the range you can put him on. Take notes and stick to your reads. If the maniac is not in fact a maniac but a good LAG, be careful.
2) Trapping the maniac can work: it is sometimes best to play a little bit more passive and not try to bluff or semi-bluff as much.
3) Playing against a maniac is massively +EV if you pick your spot, but can be high variance. Remember that the game will be a lot more swingy and wild.

Also, your maniac doesn't seem really maniacal to me, 1.7 postflop is not very agressive.
 
WVHillbilly

WVHillbilly

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Looking at your stats I'd say you need to raise more preflop. Your PFR should be more than half of your VP$IP (@ 10% for you I'd think). Obviously with a VP$IP under 16 you're only playing solid values so there is no reason to be letting others in cheaply. Charge the Any 2 Carders for playing against you.
 
Boltneck

Boltneck

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Also, your maniac doesn't seem really maniacal to me, 1.7 postflop is not very agressive.

Agreed - this guy was a bit of an oddity, and perhaps not the best example. He was certainly a maniac pre-flop. He would raise / re-raise / cap with pretty much anything. Post flop he was inconsistant. One hand he would bet like a maniac, and the next would switch o calling station. It was very difficult to get a read on him. Maybe he as better than I gave him credit for then!

Your PFR should be more than half of your VP$IP (@ 10% for you I'd think).

I'm glad you mention this, because it's something that I am conscious of, and realise that I need to address. It feels natural for me to play aggressively post flop, but for some bizzare reason I do not feel so comfortable raising pre-flop with anything less than premium hands.

It appears that I have a definite issue to address here. My original point about the maniac was based on his pre-flop play, and the point that you have raised is about my lack of aggression pre-flop. I need to have a serious thing about this, as I seems to have a problem with pre-flop aggression, both my own (lack of) aggression and my oponents who ARE aggressive.

Thanks for your comments.

Boltneck
 
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jeffred1111

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Agreed - this guy was a bit of an oddity, and perhaps not the best example. He was certainly a maniac pre-flop. He would raise / re-raise / cap with pretty much anything. Post flop he was inconsistant. One hand he would bet like a maniac, and the next would switch o calling station. It was very difficult to get a read on him. Maybe he as better than I gave him credit for then!
This is why you want to get in with the best hand against him and this is why playing against him will be more swingy/wild than agaisnt your average passive fish who you know when he wakes up with a hand. Nonetheless, your preflop range should stay the same, but the range of hands with wich you want to go to show down with/value-bet should broaden IMHO.

For example:
Against a passive opponent who raised UTG and wich you reraise OTB with AK, when you hit your K but the passive guy c/r you on the turn after bet/calling your flop raise, your K is probably no good. Against a maniac, your K is probably still good and you should push to make him pay if he is on a draw for example.

I'm glad you mention this, because it's something that I am conscious of, and realise that I need to address. It feels natural for me to play aggressively post flop, but for some bizzare reason I do not feel so comfortable raising pre-flop with anything less than premium hands.

It appears that I have a definite issue to address here. My original point about the maniac was based on his pre-flop play, and the point that you have raised is about my lack of aggression pre-flop. I need to have a serious thing about this, as I seems to have a problem with pre-flop aggression, both my own (lack of) aggression and my oponents who ARE aggressive.

Thanks for your comments.

Boltneck
And yes, 4.7 PFR is very passive preflop considering you're not a total rock (VPIP of 15.8 is solid and not too tight). Please to be bumping that to 8-9+ because:

3-betting your good hands proves to be cheaper than flat calling a reraise and getting your c-bet countered. For example:

You have AK UTG and you raise, MP who is 30/7 reraises. The correct move here is to 3-bet to try to take it down right now. If he 4-bets, fold. Flat calling here makes c-bet costly because he can have med PP wich are in his raising range, but since he is pretty passive preflop, you can give him credit for a monster and safely fold (he plays loose but raises pretty tight).

Raising more pre-flop also makes you more difficult to read, unpredictable. If opponent in the previous example was 17/11, you know is starting hand requirement are high, but that is raising range is actually looser, so folding to his reraises might actually be wrong (he could have JJ, QQ or AK).

Also, your numbers indicate that you might not be stealing/squeezing enough: against a passive table, stealing the blinds can accoutn for a large % of your hourly. If CO open limps and he is a passive, non tricky player, even K7s might be good enough to raise because:

a) He will be scared to play back at you and might flat call or just fold. A c-bet will often take care of him if you can get it HU.
b) You will get action for your big hands. Not getting predictable is important here though, if you just raise every time somebody limps, you'll get slaughtered.
 
dj11

dj11

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Smith & Wesson, or Colt in the alley.........:smile:
 
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