Dealing with maniac players. What is a ‘setup play’?

This style of playing poker is often met at low-stake tables especially at new players. It is very important to know how to take advantage of them in order to build your bankroll.

The maniac makes a lot of raises and re-raises despite the position in the hand, the cards he holds, or the number of players that called before him. He is very active so you want to sit at the table at their left to take advantage of the position and the information provided by their actions.

They are long-term losers but on short instances they can leave you broke. Against them you should forget about all the creativity and fancy play and start playing by the book. ABC poker gives the best results against them. When you have position, you’d better lead with strong hands because they usually call if they hit the flop, and if you don’t have position you’d better check/raise because maniacs are usually bluffing and betting on almost every flop. Try to trap them with strong hands on dangerous flops. Never engage with them out of position with medium hands. Never chase flushes and straight draws out of position because maniacs tend to bet the pot or over-bet so you never have the right price to call. When you are in the big blind, don’t re-raise preflop because you can’t throw them out of the pot (you should re-raise with top pairs). When you are in BB lead when you hit ( bet the flop, strategy which doesn’t work against smart aggressive players) because they usually call if they have small or medium pair on flop.

Maniacs are usually pot addicted so try to put all in when you are sure you have the best hand (only if they seem to have something big too, otherwise you should just consider betting). Don’t go all in with top pair on flop because when they have medium pair they fold but when they have 2 pairs or better they call and you will end up losing big pots and winning small pots. That’s the way they can leave you broke.

“Setup play” is a play you make at the beginning of a game in order to create a false image of your playing style and leave them the impression that you are a maniac player. Consequently, if someone raises from first position you make a re-raise from last position with any two cards looking for a show down. For example: someone raises from first position with A-Q, you re-raise in cut off with 7-5, he calls. The flop comes 9,7,3. He puts a continuation bet, you call. The turn comes a 2; he checks, you check. On the river comes a 6; he checks, you check, or he bets to try stealing and once more you call. When he will see the hand with which you made this type of play, he will think you are a maniac and play accordingly. However, you adjust your game and hope that this move will pay off later in the game.

Another kind of setup is when you play hyper-aggressively at the beginning of the game. Phil Ivey and Gus Hansen have a playing style involving a lot of aggression at the start and when their opponents tend to react they adjust their game. The problem is that the opponents remain with the image of aggression in their heads for a long time and find it difficult to trap the abusive player.

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