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The mind of the maniac is a curious thing. As a one times psychotherapist, I am intrigued by and a little sympathetic toward the emotional disturbance reflected in the markedly aberrant behavior of the maniac at the poker table. But being now primarily a poker player, I will undertake no analysis of the psyche of this kind of player.

I will present only some ideas, intended to elaborate on what has been covered elsewhere in the poker literature concerning how to play against this troubled, but troublesome opponent. So let’s dig beneath the surface a little to explore some of the conceptual underpinnings of correct preflop anti-maniac strategy.

The Debate Over Where to Sit

Whether you want a maniac on your right or left has been the subject of some debate. On the Internet, for example, players often argue the merits of each option. The reason each has merits is because either can be the best choice depending on the conditions of the game in which you find yourself. As Sklansky and Malmuth explain in Hold’em Poker for Advanced Player: 21st Century Edition, the time when other players in the game are going to interfere with the normal strategy you employ is when he is on your right. That is, if you are close to the maniac’s immediate left, and reraise him preflop, you want to be able to drive out the players behind you in order to isolate him. But when players in your game will come in behind you with less than great hands despite your making it three bets, this strategy is ruined.

In that case you can opt to put the maniac on your immediate left so that you can check to him, let him bet, then see how the rest of the players react before deciding how to play your hand.This is advantageous since it is somewhat akin to giving yourself last position.Though the tactic of placing the maniac on your left does have juts place, I lean toward placing him on my right far more often. One reason for this is that as long as I do not carry it to it to an extreme, in the games I play in, three-betting a maniac usually does effectively knock out the players behind me. Not carrying it to an extreme means, for instance, not three-betting too liberally in earlier poker positions, and not often playing against him with the weaker end of the spectrum of hands which should theoretically show a profit against a typical maniac.

Trying to play every possible hand against him runs the risk of increasing the frequency with which you are seen trying to isolate him, causing opponents to start jumping in and spoiling your plans. There is another reason I usually favor keeping a maniac on my right.The strategy of putting the maniac on your left should work best against an extremely consistent, predictable maniac. If he raises preflop, and bets after three flop nearly every chance he gets, then by putting him on your left you do get the advantages of putting everyone else between you and the maniac before deciding what to do, but I seem rarely to encounter such a predictable maniac.More often I have run into players who might be termed “semi-maniac.” They essentially qualify as maniacs, but do have some mix to their play, do not play every hand, and sometimes just limp in. In addition, though they are aggressive after the flop,

They are also capable of laying a hand down, and cannot simply be counted on to bet into the field for you. Because much of the advantage of sitting to his right is therefore lost, I prefer to sit to the left of this sort of maniac. (*Notice that in no-limit or pot-limit games the edge afforded by having someone who will bet often on your left is much greater ). Of course this may have to do with the particular games I have played in. you need to determine what kind of maniac you are dealing with, and how the other players are going to respond to you before deciding where to sit. Nevertheless, for the rest of this essay and the two related essays to follow, I will address playing only with the maniac on your right. Where to sit.Nevertheeless, for the rest of this essay and the two related essays to follow, I will address playing only with the maniac on your right.

Hand Selection and Preflop Play

The remaining questions against a maniac before the flop are what kinds of hands to play and how to play them. Most players do a poor job of hand selection in this spot. For instance, when sitting to the maniac’s left, many worry that his raising with so many hands will force them out of too many pots. So they pot to loosen up on their cold calls and simply play for two bets against his raise with any hand they would normally limp in with, while perhaps reraising with their best hands.While this may approach being correct with some hands in some games, against some extreme preflop maniacs who become more passive and play weakly after the flop, more precise hand selection is normally required, especially in earlier positions.

The simplistic “ignore his raises” approach probably stems from their failure to consider the maniac’s effects on the other players in the game, and to extend their thinking to play after the flop (*This is an example of what I believe is a common flow in how many players think about poker and make their playing decisions ).

The Strategic Moment in Hold’em  /  One Way Not to Fold  /  

Beating the Berserko: Preflop Against a Maniac /  

On Into the Storm:  Playing the Maniac After the Flop

 One Reason to Reraise a Maniac / A Simple Read / Countering a Good Reader

Thinking About What They’re Thinking / Out On the Edge

Considerations in Two Blind Stealing Defense situations

Easing the Transition to the Middle Limits: Part I

Easing the Transition to the Middle Limits: Part II /   Multiple Changing Images





has made its initial meld, either partner may make any legal meld without reference to any minimum count.
            Frozen Pile.  The discard pile becomes a frozen pile whenever it contains a wild card or a red three.  The frozen pile, also called the prize pile, may be taken up only when the player holds two natural cards matching the upcard on a meld.
            Stop Card.  When the upcard  of the discard pile is a wild card or a black