A Maniac Poker Game

Maniac poker players can be irritating at times. The major strategy adjustments you need to make when a maniac is in the game don't always follow conventional understanding. This is true in short-handed games. Conventional understanding suggests that it is best to act after other active players but that's not always the case with a maniac in the game.

If the other players are tight, before the flop you often can do better with the maniac acting after you, but before the tight players. For example, you have a hand like T8 UTG and there is a maniac on the button with an 86 and tight player on one of the blinds with QT. If you start with a raise and the maniac re-raises, the tight player is likely to fold his hand. That leaves you with a situation where you are heads-up with the maniac with a hand that dominates his. If the position of the maniac and the tight player were reversed then the tight player would probably call your raise before the flop with the QT in late position, leaving you with a three-handed contest where your hand is the dominated one.

OPENING HANDS WHEN UTG IN A FOUR-HANDED GAME
Against Tough rivals 44 A2 A7 K6 K9 Q9 Q9 J9 J9 T9 T9 97 98 86
Against tight-passive rivals 44 A2 A5 K5 K9 Q7 Q9J7 J9T7 T8 96 98 85 75 65
Against loose-passive rivals 22 A2 A2 K4 K9 Q7 Q9 J7 J9 T6 T8 98 98 87
Against loose-aggressive rivals 66A2 A5 K8 KJ Q8 QT J8 JT T9 T9 98 87
Maniac on the button (others tight) 44 A2 A8 K8 KJ Q9 QT J8 J9 T8 T9 98 87
Maniac on the blind (others tight) 55 A4 A8 K8 KT Q9 QT J9 JT T9 98
Maniac on the button (others loose) 44 A2 A7 K5 KT Q8 QT J8 JT T9
Maniac on the blind (others loose) 44 A2 A8 K7 KT Q9 QT J9 JT T9

A pair such as 55means a pair of 5s and any larger pair.
A4 means an Ace with a card of the same suit, 4 or higher.
QTmeans a Queen with a card of any suit, 10 or higher.
Other hands should be interpreted similarly.

This example is just schemed but it illustrates the point that having the maniac on your immediate left allows you to manipulate the poker betting pre-flop in way that more than compensates for the lack of position you will have after the flop. You can do this even by sitting to the maniac's left and re-raising whenever he opens with a raise. The main point is for the players to act after you and the maniac before you. The significance is to isolate him and knock out the tight players from the game. If you can do that, then you can play much weaker hands than you can if you can't achieve it.

If the remaining players in the game are loose then isolation of the maniac isn't as likely to work and you usually need to play fewer hands. You will have to give up many hands before the flop. With the best starting hands, you should more than arrange for the loss of blinds while you are waiting for them by getting multi-way when you actually play.

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