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tricky maniac player in a small stakes tournament

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  • tricky maniac player in a small stakes tournament

    H - KQo
    S – 60K
    B – 500/1000 (no antes)
    P - BB

    UTG+1 raises to 2500 (stack 100K) – (I would squarely put this player in the “maniac” category. At one point in the game he limped from UTG with 10-5o, called a 2.5x raise and won against AKo)
    Dealer calls
    I call in BB
    Pot 8000

    Flop 10-7-3 (two spades)
    UTG continuation bets for 3000 (I’ve seen him continuation bet every hand he has initially raised so this gives me very little information).
    Dealer folds
    I have two overcards (no spade) against his wide range so I elect to call 3000 into the 11000 pot.
    Turn is an ace (no spade)
    Villain checks
    I check
    River is Jack of spades
    I bet 3000 (with my straight) – (blocking bet?)
    He raises to 18,000

    What do I do?

    I tank for awhile and then elect to call based on my read of this player. I’m about 90% sure he didn’t catch the flush. The bet seemed fishy to me. However, if I really trusted my read, maybe I should have raised?

    I call and he turns over pocket aces to show a set of aces. My straight beats his set.
    I’m baffled by his check on the turn. He hit his set and elected to check. Is this a normal play? This is a small stakes tournament with a lot of players trying to play as tricky as possible . . . that could explain it, I suppose.

    Postscript: I haven’t read JL’s book on Beating Small Stakes Poker but it’s next on my list . . .

  • #2
    Assuming the player really is a maniac you might have missed some value by not going all in on the river. I say all in because with your stack size I think it is the only raise that would make sense. In this scenario it seems very unlikely he would have the flush but that doesn't mean your call is bad. But if I know the player really is a maniac i would not do a blocking bet on the river since I only lose to an unlikely flush. A river bet of 7,000 to 9,000 thousand seems about right. 2nd nuts against a maniac is going to be good the vast majority of the time. Again, your call isnt bad though. I also have not read Jonathan Little's book so I am sure any advice he gives will be much better than mine.


    • #3
      One thing I would be paying attention to with players I think are maniacs is their open raising ranges. For example, this player limp/called w/ T5o, but this hand he raises 2.5x. Without confirmed reads or showdowns I would give him a wider than normal opening range due to his maniac image. Probably up to 20% from EP.

      If he has a high c-bet % I would expect a c-bet with almost his entire range on this board. One option would be a c/r, but I would tend to fade away from that against EP raisers in multi-way pots.

      I would fold on the flop here with only two overs, no spade and being OOP. Even if you hit a K or Q you may be behind and against a maniac it is tough to play OOP and control the size of the pot if you happen to hit.

      As played, after the river, I would tend to put most players on a marginal made hand or complete air as I would expect most aggressive maniacs to bet their flush draws on the turn. The A is a great card to bluff at for him so I might even discount air even more. Leaving a majority of his range as marginal made hands (Ax, pocket pairs, Tx, 7x). However, this is a confirmed "tricky" player so I have to keep strong value hands in his range as well.

      There is 14k in the pot.

      This is an interesting spot in a way because your range looks heavily weighted towards flushes that got there. Would you really bet here with a Tx, 7x or pocket pair?

      Then again you don't want to miss out on value.

      Against passive players I would for sure bet for value here. Probably a little less than half pot and hope to get looked up by an A.

      But against this maniac, I am hoping he will value bet his Ax hands and bluff if he has air, therefore, I like the ch with the plan of ch/r for value. This gives him a chance to bluff with all of his complete air. I also like the small bet you made, it looks really weak - like you are trying to get to showdown and often times this will cause maniacs to spaz out with their air.
      Last edited by JredA; 03-27-2017, 01:45 PM.


      • #4
        Your description of open limping T5o and calling a raise does not confirm a read of "maniac." It describes a read of a plyer who is playing too many hands, but not that he is a maniac. If he opened with T5o in EP then 4 bet with it, would confirm maniac, but open limping describes about 70% of the player pool who are loose passive. Maniac is a LAG on steroids.


        • #5
          As you worked out prior to this hand, he is unpredictable, and plays a "contrary" style, not uncommon in small stakes.

          You sometimes see these players raise with small suited cards and limp with big cards and even big pairs. Their thinking is that on small flops they connect and people think they haven't connected and on big flops they can represent big cards. But we only need to watch a few hands to figure out their approach.

          Any decent player understands the simple principle of betting our strong hands and not doing this with weak hands. But your opponent can't break his habit of being contrary.

          On the river, you would think he would be concerned about you having a flush, but don't be surprised to discover he didn't notice the three-flush on the board.

          His contrary style probably includes betting a flush draw. He bet the flop and checked back the turn so this is consistent with how some players might play a flush draw, on the turn he might have an Ace pair to go with his flush draw. Without the Ace pair a lot of players would bet the turn to represent the Ace. I am not sure why you were so convinced he didn't have a flush.

          You are correct to call his river raise, but you can't re-raise, it is difficult to know what he does have, a flush is very possible, and the fact he is unpredictable makes re-raising problematic. He is likely to shove with his set of Aces and you won't know what to do.

          Your call of his flop bet was adventurous, but you probably figured that King high was good against his range.

          Notice that he didn't bet the turn with the nuts, but raised the river with what had now become a weak hand.
          Last edited by Patrick O; 03-28-2017, 08:43 AM.


          • #6
            I agree this player does not fit the definition of "maniac." He's just a really bad player and therefore virtually unreadable. I would not have called the flop bet. You were basically playing slot machine poker and happened to hit three cherries.
            {"Maniac" generally refers to a player who is hyperaggressive on all streets. Limping and then check calling with a bad hand does not fit this profile.)