Mr X & The Maniacs

by snoopy
Submitted by: snoopy on Fri, 23/02/2007 - 7:49pm
Amongst the thousands upon thousands of online players lies a specific group of poker outcasts. They are mocked, insulted, jeered at, even threatened by some, but there are the odd few who welcome them with open arms. What motivates them, no one can be sure, but what is known is that they are guaranteed to make their presence felt wherever they play. This group is affectionately known as… The Maniacs.

A few months back I was partaking in a spot of four table $2/4 ring game action, when a mysterious character, whose name I shall not be highlighting here, took a seat on one of my tables, about 80-100 dollars in front of him. I’d never played with him before and didn’t recognise the name, but that was all about to change.

After a few hands, Mr X, as shall be his temporary moniker, moved all-in preflop unprovoked. Naturally, everyone folded. “Must have been a big hand,” I thought to myself.

Two hands later, Mr X made the same move, this time following a raise from the previous seat – again, the table folded.

The very next hand, yep, you’ve guessed it, our dear friend, Mr X, shoved them in again – no raise before him and no sign of tilt from the chatbox. And, again, he won the pot uncontested. At this point, my eyes began to widen and I realised that Mr X was someone to keep an close eye on – a potential goldmine of sorts.

As this sequence of events was occurring, I noticed that Mr X had taken a seat on my other three tables, again playing with just a paltry $80-100 in front of him – and, unsurprisingly, he was making exactly the same moves. Mainly folding, but, now and then and seemingly without provocation, moving in his entire stack, be it a raise or re-raise.

Of course, my fellow players swiftly recognised the abnormality of his play and realised that this guy was indeed a valued member of The Maniacs, quite high up the ladder in fact. But, as the game progressed, they became more and more frustrated with Mr X’s antics. Players were calling his all-in with all sorts – A-6, K-J, T-9s, I even saw someone call for $75 with 7-3 off, purely out of frustration of the chaos that our new foe was creating.

But while everyone else allowed Mr X to throw them off their game, I retained my composure, tightened up and, thanks to the ‘view hand history’ tool, logged the hands he was playing.

Before long, it was clear that he was not on tilt, but attempting a rather odd and unjustified strategy of pushing with K-Q, any Pocket Pair and any Ace, be there a raise before him or not. Now it doesn’t take a genius to work out that this strategy is seriously flawed, but perhaps he’s a recreational player, simply playing for fun and this is his way of creating that sometimes highly desirable adrenaline rush. If that is the case, then I have no complaints.

Without a poker calculator at hand, I was forced to estimate which hands I should be calling with. Although I later found out, and of course this is all dependent on there being no other callers and no players left to act, that the advised calling hands range from 5-5+, A-J+ and A-Ts, I was adopting 8-8+ and A-J+ as my calling guidelines – certainly not 7-3o!

After approximately 20 minutes of mayhem, Mr X finally left the table, and during that time I had played four hands, all-in preflop of course, against him:

A-K vs K-Q
K-K vs A-Q
8-8 vs A-2
A-J vs 2-2

Seeing as I’d won 3 of those 4, his Pocket Deuces holding up against my A-J being his only victory, I was a happy man, and was disheartend by his untimely departure.

Whilst specific situations like these are rare, The Maniacs aren’t, and whether you’re playing a low limit multi or a high stakes cash game, it’s worth being prepared for their entrance.

My advice is simple. Be prepared to change your game at any circumstance. If a maniac arrives, then only play premium hands. Don’t get caught up in the bedlam and don’t become jealous of your fortunate opponents who appear to be feeding off them. Be composed, patient and wait for your opportunity. If it doesn’t arrive, then so be it, it wasn’t your day, but don’t force the issue.

If you do find a strong hand but The Maniac somehow busts your monster, then don’t react negatively. To utilise an old cliché, that’s poker, it happens, and you just have to take a deep breath and start over.

If you don’t feel as though you can manage any of these pointers, then identify The Maniacs and avoid like the plague, otherwise your pockets will be lightened in ultra fast time.

Oh, and if you’re wondering, yes I did meet Mr X again, the very next day in fact, and yes the same thing happened. As Jimmy Greaves once said, “It’s a funny ol’ game”…