NLHE Tournament Play: Avoiding Mistakes Against a Maniac

johnnyesper

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So I would like people to double check my logic here.

DISCLAIMER: Im not a poker pro, I'm barely a loosing player looking to improve. These thoughts are what I aspire to do, Im not fully there yet.

There were lot of solid points here. The main nugget I glean from this discussion is that you have to play the strategy that puts you in the best position to win. Not just against the maniac but the tournament. Play your game with adjustments These are my thoughts specific on the the characteristics you listed

Their indecipherable almost meaningless bet sizing;
You are a knowledgeable player that knows the math. If the bet size is too big to call for your equity, let the hand go. If its super small you have the right odds to call. For an unpredictable player, use the math to make the decision. This will help level out the variance.

Their seemingly thoughtless bet/raise frequency;
This is the same as my first point. I have run into many situations where a maniac will go all in with 100BB for like 10 hands in a row. there is no way that a player has that many good hands. I really want to be the guy to bust him/her but even if you don't you will be there long after he or she does by exercising patience and good use of Math.

Their willingness to call virtually any preflop raise regardless of price or position;
As you know, use position as your advantage. The example JJ hand you gave is tough decision but the key is you were last to act giving you the best chance to win the hand. You were the chip leader and you know that you didn't need to risk your stack against a player that will likely not make it very far in the tourney.

Their propensity to jam all in as massive overbets when it is neither reasonable nor appropriate to do so;
This boils down to Math yet again. what i have found in the small stakes there is not much bluffing going on. an overwhelming percentage of time, players will not make a move like this unless they are super strong. Don't let your ego get in front of you. No one wants to get bluffed out of there shoes but that is low probability overall. My main mistakes against maniacs is that I want to be the one to bust them. That is something that I'm constantly working on.

Their calls on the flop and later streets with no pair and no draw;
This is a range vs range situation. Manics tend to play only their hole cards with no regard for how their perceived range looks to others. This is where you can take advantage of them. You can assign a logic range to that player (yes, I know he is a maniac) and use that to your advantage. This is easier said then done but makes the most sense when maniac is raising MP1 on a T-2-7 rainbow against your overs on in the cutoff. Things like this can cut through through the noise so you can make better decisions.

Their high frequency of bluffing.
Do you find that the maniacs in your game are actually bluffing or slightly aggressive calling stations? I'm curious about that.

I'm curious about your feedback. These are all parts of my game I'm working so I love the post. Thanks.
 

Moxie Mike

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Their calls on the flop and later streets with no pair and no draw;
This is a range vs range situation. Manics tend to play only their hole cards with no regard for how their perceived range looks to others. This is where you can take advantage of them. You can assign a logic range to that player (yes, I know he is a maniac) and use that to your advantage. This is easier said then done but makes the most sense when maniac is raising MP1 on a T-2-7 rainbow against your overs on in the cutoff. Things like this can cut through through the noise so you can make better decisions.

There was a specific hand I observed where the maniac while OOP (was one of the blinds I think) and called a PFR. Then check called a c-bet on a 9-4-2 flop, then called another bet when a 10 hit the turn. The river was a Q and he led out for 1/2 the pot and turned over Q-7 when he was called by someone who had JJ.

It's worth noting this was early in the tournament when he still had a big pile of chips. He doesn't play like this when he's shortstacked.

I've seen him take this same line with busted flush/straight draws, etc. as well.

The challenge is when to try to extract value while also operating under the assumption that he's going to lead any river. Instinct suggest you should keep the pot small by checking back the turn - which is almost guaranteed to induce a river bet from this type of opponent. I am of course referring to situations where your opponent is OOP - which a player like this often is going to back to their propensity to play virtually any hand regardless of price or position.

So it's a balance of maximizing value while minimizing exposure. I posted a similar discussion thread about a year ago - check it out if you care to.

Their high frequency of bluffing.
Do you find that the maniacs in your game are actually bluffing or slightly aggressive calling stations? I'm curious about that.

I'm curious about your feedback. These are all parts of my game I'm working so I love the post. Thanks.

This individual definitely bluffs a lot and there's nothing 'slightly aggressive' about his game. The challenge with these types of players is that it isn't as easily to decipher what their bets mean solely from their sizing - which is all you have to go on in an online game. Since he's playing so many hands, he's usually drawing - and a river bet can mean he hit a set/trips, two pair, filled a gutter or binked a flush... or maybe he has air. So most of the time if you have any showdown value at all you just grit your teeth and make the call and see what what he had.

He is quite the calling station and I never bluff him when I have nothing. But he will still fold to c-bets after he's completely whiffed the flop, or if it's a little later in the game when he doesn't have chips to burn he's a little more cautious.
 

johnnyesper

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I looked at your sample hand. This is a great one to walk through and analyze. I loved doing it..

Since you have already documented the hand it does not make sense for me to repeat the thread. Instead, I want to look at the math in each street to what your hand and fold equity is.

We can take your hand and review from an online perspective on how to face a maniac. I think this is a good way to examine the hand seeing that cannot use the reads.

I’m using Equilab and the scenario analyzers to look at each street.

TL;DR – By using math and equity tools in off table study I show you can make good decisions even against a maniac.

Flop

So lets pick up the action on the flop where the board is :kh: :jc: :3h: and the pot is $35 with 5 callers.

It is a straddle pot and the hero, on the button straddle, with :as: :jd: checked his option. It checks to the hero who bets $20 and only the villain calls. Let’s look at the possible ranges here.

It’s kind of hard to give the villain in the hijack a reasonable range here as he over limped behind four others, but this is what I came up with.

The villain’s range after a hero bet may look something like this, about 40% ish of hands based on the heroes estimation of his VPIP.

Again, let me know what you think about my range assumptions.

JJ-44, AQs-A2s, K2s+, Q4s+, J7s+, T7s+, 97s+, 87s, AQo-A2o, K5o+, Q7o+, J8o+, T8o+

40 percentof hands.png


There is a good chance that maniac will slow play big pairs like QQ+ or AKs and AKo but for the purpose of the this we will say that he will not play these cards passively. I almost feel that many maniacs do not want to see their Aces or Kings cracked so they will bet huge with strong preflop hands. Please let me know if you don’t agree with this assumption.

Against this range you are a clear favorite (63/37) and in you are in position.

So after the villain calls your 80% pot bet he then checks dark. What do his range look like now?

Its likely that the maniac will continue a slew of hands that hit the two broadway cards in the window.

The villains range does not change much as he could have any cards that touch a board like this. Even if he hit a king he was going to call your bet as he was getting decent odds (just under 3:1) to call even against your perceived range completing the straddle.

im sure he is not thinking about your range but for this we will make that assumption.


Now what are you expecting to see on the turn as you are now heads up? Lets look at the cards to come

Flop scenario analyzed.png


Obviously, an Ace or Jack puts you way ahead of his range. An Ace gives you about 85% equity and a Jack (specifically :js:) puts you way ahead with 95% equity.

All other cards are not scary for you but still depend on what the villain's next move. Now on to the turn

The turn is the :6d:.

This does not change much as all cards the cards that hit are about even in equity. Also, it will be hard to reduce the villians range as we didn't get much info due to his checking. This is still good for the hero.

Now, the villain is a maniac. What would be the best move here since the villain checked dark. The math is on your side as playing this river more aggressively is the +EV play. Possibly a blocker bet could have been made here but bloating the pot for information seems unnecessary.

So what does the landscape look like on the river?

turn scenario analyzed.png


Two through eight, minus the heart, puts the hero above 70% equity. The only scary cards are 9, 10, and queens. This tells me against the villain our hero is in the driver’s seat. Knowing this, what is the plan for the river? You mentioned, and was correct based on this analysis, that you are going to bet or call anything but a heart. You opted to checked it through.

Lets see a river.

The river is the :8c: and the villain leads out with $90.

Based on the villains actions so far he was playing the broadway cards on the table. His over bet of $90 should have made him polarized but as we can see with this analysis just proved how much of a maniac he is. He was not making a plus EV bet and we can surely call.

Your instincts look to be right on. Based on the math, you are making money an overwhelming amount time by calling this bet. Your EV is +$85 in these situations. You won the pot in this instance but even if you didn’t and say he did have a King you made the right decisions based on the math which is all we can do

So paying against a maniac, especially online where you don’t have the reads, the math is your best way to play against them. Play your game, make +EV decisions, make those slight adjustments as needed. This is something I’m personally working on in my game and the off table study is helping.

Let me know what you think? I hope that my analysis made sense and more importantly I hope it was correct. If you see anything wrong here let me know. Thanks. This was a good practice for me.
 

Moxie Mike

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Nice analysis - I don't get too deep into theory like this because it doesn't suit my style of play. The situation in the hand I link was not against a 'maniac' (and not the player I had in mind when I started this thread) - just an aggressive, non thinking player.

I don't think V holds as many junk hands as the range tool suggests. He's definitely loose in the any ace/any two suited/unsuited gappers, etc... But I don't think anything as weak as K5o is in his range.
 
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