how to beat maniacs

how to beat maniacs

A ll Texas Hold'em players have experienced the maniacs at their tables--those loose aggressive nut jobs who play cards the way Kamikazes flew their airplanes...except, unfortunately, they are not trying to die. Many newer players wonder how to beat these maniacs (and that is the name by which they are commonly known). It can be very frustrating to play against them, because you can't put them on a hand since they raise, sometimes by obnoxious amounts, nearly every pre-flop. They can make you go on tilt and raise them back with mediocre hands, resulting in your bad beat. But much more maddening, they can intimidate you into folding when you had a strong hand...and then you find out they won with something no better than A-4--in other words, they won with next to nothing.


Aggressive players are the biggest winners in Texas Hold'em, and really in any poker game. Some players who are big winners are more over the top than some of their peers, but having an aggressive poker strategy is an element in the game of every winner. But, you see, we are talking about maniacs--they are loose aggressive. Aggression good; loose aggression bad. To put it crassly, it's analogous to "flirt" as compared to "slut". If a woman is a flirt, she opens up many otherwise lost possibilities; if she is a slut, she opens up a Pandora's box of troubles for herself (and her children). Loose aggressive players are, shall we say, poker sluts.

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Before you can beat maniacs, you must observe the one structure that they don't: you must be tight aggressive. That makes all the difference.

If you recognize a maniac at your table, stay tight--in fact, you could even get tighter, just for them. If you have been folding with all starting hands in which either card is less than a 9, try this one, at least for many hands: only play tens or better--or, even just Jacks or better (that means both cards!). This is in fact super-tight play, but there's a method in this madness. You want to make the maniac pay for his poker slut ways--and if he pays you for them, so much the better!

You see, loose aggressive players thrive on intimidation--and if you are folding a lot, they will lick it up. This is especially effective if you are in a later poker position than they are. They will believe that you are scared of them, when in reality you are just being what they are not--picky.

Keeping it tight, here's how you approach these loonies:

  • When you get hole cards that you are going to hold and play, raise/re-raise them pre-flop. You can very often take their money pre-flop (they will often fold in anger), and make them pay for their cockiness.
  • If you want to extract even more money from them, limp in with Jacks or better and try to hit on the flop and/or take it all the way to the river. Generally call or raise only a small amount until you get to the river...where you then do a slamma-jamma raise on 'em, even going all-in if it's No Limit. They will be cocky and sweetening your pot for you the whole time...and then you take the big money from them!
  • Know that against maniacs, it's always a possibility that you will experience a bad beat against them. Even if you stay super-tight, you never know what these crazies have, and unless you have a royal flush they still could pull out a win against you even if you're holding four Aces. Since the idea is to raise them heavily and take their money, you'll lose big money yourself once in a while. If you feel yourself tilt-a-whirling when this happens, just leave the table. If you follow the tight discipline, you will make all your money back and more against them--but it just doesn't have to be today. They'll keep coming back for more, because they are maniacs and they think you are going to give them more money. You will beat them, in fact you will bad beat them, in the long run with your poker discipline.

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