Playing Against a Maniac in No Limit Hold'em

Any player knows that many online cash tables have hyper-aggressive players that can only be described as "maniacs." These players play with extreme aggression for the sole purpose of being feared, or they may just be intoxicated or a beginner to the game. Although a maniac's style of play isn't optimal for winning money, it can be profitable in the short run. More importantly, if a tight aggressive player gets in a pot with a maniac they could lose all their money, and that is exactly what we want to avoid.

In order to capitalize off a maniac's unique style of play, follow the strategies listed on this page. Do not change your entire method of play, but rather adapt to the fast play around you. Since this player cannot be ignored at the table, take the opportunity to enjoy his donations of chips.

Choose Your Seat Wisely

One of the advantages of playing cash games is that you get to choose your seat. If you notice there is a maniac at a table, make sure to sit as close to his/her left as you possibly can, with the best seat being the one directly to the maniac's left. This gives you the opportunity to react after the maniac makes his/her play.

If you are on the right of the maniac, you will have a tough session because every time you limp, the maniac can raise, and every time you bet the maniac can raise right after you act.

Continuation Bets and Bluffs

Many maniacs will play any two cards preflop. Therefore, your preflop raise will probably not deter the maniac from playing small, unsuited cards such as 3-6 off suit. Make sure to remember this, so when you raise with A-K and miss the flop, you can skip the continuation bet. Your C-bet is unlikely to scare the maniac away, as the ragged board actually may have helped his/her hand. Even if the maniac has not paired the flop, he or she may draw to an inside straight or backdoor flush draw depending on how loose the player is.

This same occurrence may repeat itself when you are attempting a bluff. It may not be that the "maniac" actually believes he is calling a bluff, but rather he or she may think his or her hand is good. Therefore the maniac may call ridiculous bets with bottom pair or mid-pair in hopes of taking down any sized pot. Because of this, you should avoid bluffing against the maniac.

If you are truly set on bluffing the maniac, you have to put him/her to the test for all of his/her chips. The prospect of going bust is the only thought that may cause a maniac to slow down.

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Return Aggressiveness and Strategy

Because the loose player plays so many hands, the overall value of his or her average hand will be less. This means weaker hands that you would normally muck to a tighter player become valuable against loose players. You should stick with your normal preflop game, and then play very aggressive postflop. Your aggressiveness towards the loose-aggressive player will be rewarded when you hold a strong hand.

Also, isolation is key when playing against aggressive players, especially when your opponent is the true aggressor in the hand. If you can isolate yourself against the "maniac" with a strong hand, you are in the most profitable situation you can hope for. Let the aggressive player believe he has the hand won by playing the flop passively, most likely with a check and smooth call. Most unskilled players will then believe that they are good, and bet the turn and river, which will give you the chance to win a massive pot.

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