man-on-tiltThese days, six max limit hold ‘em games are becoming increasingly aggressive. So much so that in certain games open raising in the hijack or the cut-off stands a fairly strong chance of being re-raised by a player with position behind you.

Once you start to hit the $20-$40 and $30-$60 levels then the games can be so aggressive that the players on your table can start to resemble maniacs. I think that there are clear differences between a true maniac and someone who is merely very loose aggressive.

There is often a far more deliberate methodology behind the style of a loose aggressive player than that of a true maniac. However, whether we are looking at a true maniac or merely a very loose aggressive player then one thing is certain, they can be very tough to play against for an awful lot of players.

Maniacs in limit hold ‘em will typically have a VPIP of at least 45% and many maniacs are hitting 50%+. Ideally you want to be sitting to their left so that you can three bet to isolate them. All poker variations demand that you strive to achieve proper frequencies and any player who is playing more than 40% of their hands in six max limit hold’em is playing too loose.

Then if their pre-flop raise percentage isn’t too far behind their VPIP then you can rest assured that you are looking at a player that is too aggressive. These are my favourite opponents to play against but you need to be very careful in six handed games facing aggressive players or maniacs. Hyper aggressive play and even maniac play isn’t too far removed from being optimal strategy in these sorts of games so some of your ultra aggressive opponents may be playing close to optimally.

If your post flop play is a little on the tight side and you don’t reach the river often enough then you may find yourself getting run over and especially if you find a player sitting out or that the game has suddenly become four or five handed. You also need to remember that there are clear differences between how a player can play pre-flop to how they play post flop with regards their levels of aggression.

It is for this reason that you need to classify just what type of “maniac” you are going up against as many players who are perceived as being maniacs are actually world class players. Another important factor to consider is that of bankroll requirements. Limit hold ‘em has become tougher to beat and especially online over the past couple of years.

What this means is that the old yardsticks of 250 big bets as an adequate bankroll no longer applies and hasn’t done for some considerable time. One of the things that started to needle me in limit hold ‘em was the increasing variance and several huge (huge for me) swings of around 300 big bets in a very short space of time really did it for me and was why I switched to playing SNG’s and NLHE.

I know many pro’s at the higher limits who have 1000 big bet bankrolls. It is amazing to think now that a $20-$40 player could need as much as $40,000 to ensure not going broke and that is presuming that they are a winning player to begin with.

The extra aggressive tendencies of players in most levels of limit play mean that you will require a far bigger bankroll even as a winning player than what most players can ever imagine. This is why playing maniacs and ultra aggressive players can be so dangerous especially to inexperienced players or players who are not used to experiencing large negative swings.

Even if you are +EV against these players then it may take a long time before you eventually get their money and if you are prone to tilt then any profit that you may have had theoretically can soon be wiped out. I used to leave the table if I felt that a really tough aggressive player had position over me.

But a true maniac is rather different and will often not just play wild pre-flop but also post flop as well. You are going to have to accept that you are going to have to call down with many losing hands as this is an advantage to their style of play in that they get paid off and raised more often when they are ahead.

One of the key features of limit games is to be able to get the hand heads up with added dead money in the middle. This can make many marginal hands profitable. You already know that a maniac is raising and re-raising on a wide range so in effect they are helping you to generate profit.

Then it comes down to not letting them get the better of you in heads up situations as you cannot afford to pass on too much equity by allowing them to bully you out of too many hands. Knowing when to be aggressive against them post flop and when to control the pot comes with experience and a thorough treatise would be far beyond the scope of this article. But if you can hold your own post flop against maniacs and not be pushed around then they can help you to make a lot of money in limit hold ‘em.

Carl “The Dean” Sampson is sponsored by the online poker site, Cake Poker and can be seen at www.pokersharkpool.com.

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