Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Playing against a maniac in a one table NLHE sit-n-go

Every now and then, I will come across a maniac in a SNG. It seems to happen a lot more in limit tourneys than not. For instance, when I was still playing Stud SNG's, one maniac literally just had his pointer on bet/raise any. He never varied his play. I doubt he was even looking at the cards, just the pointer. This strategy paid off for him very well, as he was far and ahead the chip lead when I got busted out.

The other day I found a maniac in a NLHE sit-n-go. Some people refer to a certain opponent as a "maniac," when it truth, they are not. The poker dictionary defines "maniac" as:

'A player who bets, raises, and reraises without regard to the quality of his hand; someone to whom getting in the last bet is a matter of pride. Such a player is most often found in flop games.'

If I am playing with a player who seems to raise a lot of marginal hands, someone will comment, "He is a maniac." Well, no, he isn't, he is just pushing marginal hands, value betting when he thinks he might have the best of it.

The other day, however, I truly did play with a maniac. It didn't take long for the table to discover his ways, since he was forcing other's premium hands all-in, and getting quite a few amazing suckouts with bad hands. The table, as a whole, was steaming. Other players started mixing it up with him, with barely playable hands. If they lost, they could not survive, yet he could, since his stack was so huge from the frequent steals and occasional suckouts. He had about five times as many chips as the next lead, so he could weather many storms, while constantly replenishing his stack by stealing when no one had a hand to "stand up" to him.

Seeing this pattern, I took on the passive/timid role, and let him do his best to bust out the other players. They fell fast. We went from nine to four players in record speed. During this time, I did not receive a premium hand. I folded even good, playable hands to the maniac. I let him feel he could run over me, that I was the scared mouse who would not take him on. I let him dominate me, and refused to join into the table heckling that the other players were giving him, all of them tilting and steaming badly. I kept silent, and let him do his damage.

A lot of SNG players, who seem to be decent on the surface, never bother to think outside of the box. While planning my strategy against the maniac, I saw some awful plays. For instance, a seemingly solid player was to the left of the maniac. He was UTG, and went all-in with an obvious premium pair. The maniac was the BB. The maniac was intelligent enough to know that the UTG player was tight and solid. So he folded his BB when it got back to him. No value for the solid player in that hand. Sure, he got the blinds, but he could have gotten so much more out of his premium hand.

By hand 42, I was down to 815 chips from my original 1500. Maniac was up to 4800. We were already down to five players, and I received 66. The maniac did his usual large raise. I went over the top of him and made him pot-committed (not to mention the fact that I only had 815 chips anyway). Thus he fell victim to trap #1 with his J3 raise.

On hand 50, I was dealt AA. I once again set a trap for the maniac. I limped in, and let him make a hefty raise. I went over the top and pot committed him. He instantly called and turned up 22. Now our stacks were 3000 me, and 3200, maniac. I was closing in on him. He seemed kind of angry about the tables being turned. He didn't like that the predator had now become the prey, and made the comment that I wasn't going to be able to win them all.

Hand 51 found him steaming and calling an all-in versus another opponent. He managed to knock the other guy out. Down to four.

The other two opponents of the maniac played more like me. They showed incredible restraint and patience in the eye of the storm. One is a Vietnam Vet who has probably seen it all. I have played against him many times and respect his play. We were all playing our very best game and letting the maniac steal the blinds virtually every hand. Kudos to my other two opponents!

On hand 63, I found myself with 99. Earlier, my Vet friend had tipped the scales in his favor by getting the maniac to call his all-ins, so we both had the maniac outchipped. The maniac raised pre-flop. Both the Vet and I called. The flop was all rags, which prompted the maniac to immediately shove all-in. Both the Vet and I called. We checked it down the rest of the way. I got my third nine on the river, and the maniac was eliminated with J3o.

I think we all sighed a breath of relief, but we were astounded when railbirds suddenly started cheering. I had no idea that many of the victims of the maniac had stayed around to see themselves vindicated when someone took him out.

I used to get very uptight playing against a maniac. My heart would race and I would feel like I was going to have a heart attack. Now it is just a minor bump in the road, which usually puts money in my pocket, and helps me improve my play.

Bring on the maniacs!