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Playing Against Maniacs

Whether you love it or hate it, the fact is inescapable. You’re going to have to play against maniacs sometimes. Games with maniacs can be wild, full of action, and high in variance.

But what is a maniac, you ask? A maniac is someone who, on the psychological player profiling scale, falls on the loose-aggressive side. Maniacs love action—they get involved all the time, aren’t afraid to bet big, and, in general, they have a hard time folding.

Playing against these players, however, can be stressful at times. It’s nearly impossible to put them on an actual range because they are willing to raise with any two napkins, and the betting can get so out of hand that it can be hard to play any hands without putting your entire stack at risk.

Keep reading to learn a few tips about how to fight against these crazy wildcards.

Exploiting Maniacs

The key to exploiting any poker player is observing and reacting to their frequencies. Since maniacs play too many hands, this means that their range contains all sorts of garbage. Even though their junk is indistinguishable from their good hands, you don’t have to worry about hitting up against a good hand as often as against another player.

While the natural instinct may be to clam up, tighten up your range, and only play when you know you’ve got them, this isn’t actually the optimal strategy. Sure, you don’t want to add so much air to your range that you don’t have a range advantage over them, but you also shouldn’t be afraid.

Because their range is so weak, you can play a weaker range than you normally would and still be at an advantage. You can play hands like weaker pairs or second pairs and still be confident that you’ll be ahead most of the time.

Drawing Against Maniacs

Drawing hands, on the other side of the coin, can be somewhat dicey against maniacs. You can definitely get paid when you hit them, but the cost that you’ll pay to draw against them can be too steep, and you’re liable to get beat by any old junk when you don’t get there.

This means that, instead of thinking about implied odds and drawing out on them, you should prioritize made hands above all else. Playing against a maniac is like steering a boat through a storm and having a made hand is the best type of life raft that you could ever ask for.

Whatever you do, don’t let the maniac bully you. They love getting a rise out of people and forcing people into a place of fear. If you do that, you’re playing into their hands. Keep your head on your shoulders, keep your cool, and go crush those maniacs.

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