In Texas hold’em, a loose-aggressive player (LAG) plays most of his hands pre-flop, and often raises. Some such players are also called “maniacs.” They play their hands extremely aggressively, raising and re-raising perhaps as much as one out of three hands dealt – or even more often.
Let’s take a typical example: You are playing $4-$8 limit hold’em at your favorite local casino. Up to this point in time, you have been holding your own, and are a bit ahead. A new player joins your table. You have never before played against him; you don’t know his playing traits. So you watch him closely.
He starts out seeing the flop six hands in a row, and he raised pre-flop on four of those. In your mind, you have labelled him a LAG, and a “maniac” to boot. Two of those raised hands he won without any challenge, as his opponents mucked their hole cards. As for the other two that went to a showdown, on one occasion he had been dealt pocket Queens; the other hand, he tossed into the muck when his opponent (acting out of turn) turned up a decent hand. “Maniac” probably was bluffing on most of those hands.
Unfortunately, he is seated two seats to your left. Thus, most of the time, you have to act before he declares. That puts you in a difficult position. Most of your playable hands aren’t strong enough to warrant an investment of a double bet to see the flop when he raises after you limp. (By the way, one way to spot a Poker Pigeon – i.e., a very unskilled player – is when a player asks for a vacant seat just to the right of a “maniac.” Call that the “dead man’s seat.”)
Of course, you would like to change your seat so that you are to his immediate left, or as close to that as possible. When such a seat becomes available, waste no time in announcing your seat change to the dealer. (Don’t let another sharp player beat you to the punch.)
Thereafter, you’ll know how he bets before investing any of your precious chips. When he raises, you can easily fold mediocre hands; they are not worth a two-bet. And, if you have been dealt a strong hand, you can re-raise (a 3-bet) to thin the playing field, as all your other opponents fold their hands. Ideally, in that case, it would be great to play heads-up against the “maniac” while you feel almost certain that you hold the best hand – and, hence, you are a big favorite to take the pot. In that case, you would be exploiting the “maniac’s” playing traits.
Two “Maniacs” in the Game
But what if a second “maniac” joins your game? That does happen on occasion, presenting an even bigger problem. If you are seated between them, you are in the worst possible position.
On the other hand, if they happened to be seated next to one another, then the previous strategy could work for you: When available, move your seat to their immediate left.
Otherwise, it’s time to take a long break (have lunch or go for a walk in the fresh air to invigorate yourself and reflect on the situation); or, better yet, request a table change.