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How to Isolate Maniacs in Poker

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maniac in poker can be described as someone who is wildly aggressive. These players like to play a wide range of hands and it’s not unlike them to raise, 3 or 4-bet you with total air.

As you can imagine, playing verses these kinds of players is extremely profitable - swingy, but profitable. And it’s because of this that you’ll want to play against maniacs as much as possible.

Isolating Maniacs

To be able to play against maniacs as much as possible, you need to put yourself in a situation where you can do so. The best way to accomplish this is by isolating. When a maniac opens, you put in a raise which hopefully folds out the rest of the field leaving you heads up with your buddy.

To maximize your success in isolating a maniac, it’s going to be in your best interest to be sitting on their left. That way, you can see them act first. If you’re not to the maniac’s left, you’ll probably be better off leaving the table and coming back later or finding a new table altogether.

Important Tips When Wanting to Isolate Maniacs

It’s not always going to be as clear cut as “just sit to the left of a maniac and raise when they enter the pot.” If it were, everyone would be rich. There are a few things to keep in mind:

  • If you isolate the maniac, can you call a shove? Sure, you can isolate a little bit wider because you expect your hand to often be in front of the maniac’s. But you need to ask yourself if you’re willing to call and race if the maniac decides to shove. If not, you might be better off flatting or even maybe folding.
  • Consider flatting preflop. It’s not always wise to meet aggression with more aggression. Sometimes it will be better to play it passive. The reason being is that the maniac is more likely to spew post flop if he/she thinks you’re weak. Granted, you do take some risk of being outdrawn, but I think the value you gain when you under rep your hand will far exceed the risk you take in the long run.
  • Is the maniac really a maniac – or does he/she play LAG well? The difference between a maniac and a LAG is substantial. One loses money while playing loose and the other wins money by playing loose. Make sure you know which your opponent is or you could be the one losing the money.
  • The opponents left to act. You need to keep in mind that you might still have players to your left to act after you. So before you go and isolate the maniac, you need to be sure if you’re going to be given the chance or if there are any players that will compete with you to play against the maniac. Knowing if your opponent(s) like to squeeze is helpful too.
  • Try min-raising when you isolate. I would opt to min-raise isolate a maniac verses my standard 3x +1 simply because when I miss, I can’t c-bet profitably very often (maniacs won’t fold often). So by min-raising, you’re squeezing as much profit out of your isolation tactic as possible.

Summary of Isolating Maniacs in Poker

Playing versus a maniac is going to be extremely profitable for you in the long run. However, a situation can get nasty quick if you’re not careful. Always be sure you know who you’re isolating, your hand is strong enough to isolate with and that your opponents won’t get in your way (at least too often). If you can manage this you’re sure to find that playing verses a maniac is one of the most entertaining and profitable experiences you’ve ever had.

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Written by Matt Geer

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