Combating a Maniac

3534The following hand is from one of my newest books, Jonathan Little on Live No-Limit Cash Games, Volume 2, The Practice. This book is a collection of 105 in-depth hand quizzes that I played at $10/$20 and $20/$40 No-Limit at the Commerce Casino. My students have told me this is one of  my best work to date. If you haven’t check it out already, I suggest you do so. Would you have played this hand the same way I did? What do you think about this quiz format? Let me know!

Hand:              Ah-Qh

Position:         Button

Blinds:            10/20

MP2 HJ CO Button SB BB
5k 5k 2k 5k 3k 5k
Villain1 Hero Villain2

Villain1 is a new player who seems inexperienced. Villain2 is Gustav, the wild guy who seems to love trying to outplay you. This is his first hand at the table for the day. He seems to be well rested, which is seems to be uncommon for him.

Villain1 posts 20 blind in the cutoff and checks his option.

Question 1

The action is on you on the button. What do you do with Ah-Qh?

  1. a) Fold
  2. b) Call 20
  3. c) Raise to 80
  4. d) Raise to 400

You decide to raise to 80. Gustav reraises to 300. Villain1 folds.

Question 2

The pot is 410 and the effective stack size is 4,920. What is your action?

  1. a) Fold
  2. b) Call 220 more
  3. c) Reraise to 720
  4. d) Reraise to 900

You elect to call. The flop comes Ks-Qs-8c. Gustav quickly fires 400 into the pot.

Question 3

The pot is 1,030 and the effective stack size is 4,700. What is your action?

  1. a) Fold
  2. b) Call 400
  3. c) Raise to 900
  4. d) Raise to 1,400

You decide to call. The turn is the (Ks-Qs-8c)-7d. Gustav bets 1,020.

Question 4

The pot is 2,450 and the effective stack size is 4,300. What is your action?

  1. a) Fold
  2. b) Call 1,020
  3. c) Raise to 2,040
  4. d) Raise all-in for 3,820 more

You call. The river is the (Ks-Qs-8c-7d)-2c. Gustav checks.

Question 5

The pot is 3,470 and the effective stack size is 3,280. What is your action?

  1. a) Check
  2. b) Bet 1,000
  3. c) Bet 2,000
  4. d) Go all-in for 3,280

You decide to check, beating Gustav’s 8h-5h.

Discussion and answers (each answer is ranked 0-10, with 0 being the worst and 10 being the best)

Answer 1

  1. a) 0 b) 2 c) 10 d) 3

Because Villain1 checked, he likely has a range that is weaker than any two cards. You should happily raise, looking to build a pot in position with a powerful holding.

Answer 2

  1. a) 0 b) 10 c) 8 d) 2

When Gustav reraises, folding is out of the question given you have position and a hand that almost certainly has his range crushed. You have to figure out if 4betting or calling will lead to the highest expectation. If you think you can happily call down on at least the flop and turn with A high if you fail to connect with the board, calling preflop is probably ideal. If you think you can four bet and be at least somewhat happy getting all-in preflop, four betting is probably best. Your main concern should be keeping Gustav in with a wide range and not putting yourself in a situation where Gustav’s range is so strong that you have to fold.

Answer 3

  1. a) 0 b) 10 c) 4 d) 1

While middle pair is certainly not a premium hand, given you think Gustav is generally wild, you cannot fold. Raising is a reasonable option due to the numerous possible draws but if you raise and he elects to continue in the pot, you can never be too happy. When you are against someone who is more than capable of bluffing, especially when you have a strong bluff catcher, you want to do everything you can to keep them in the pot, which often means not raising.

Answer 4

  1. a) 2 b) 10 c) 2 d) 3

The turn doesn’t change much unless Gustav happened to make two pair or a set. If you are confident Gustav would rarely continue betting on the turn either as a total bluff or semi bluff, folding starts to gain some merit. Given your past experiences with him, you should assume he is more than crazy enough to pull the trigger again.

Answer 5

  1. a) 10 b) 4 c) 2 d) 2

While there may be a shade of value in making a small bet, hoping to induce Gustav to call with a worse Q or perhaps make an overly ambitious check raise bluff, you will find checking behind is a fine play that keeps you out of trouble. That being said, always look for spots to get extreme value against guys who think you may be trying to outplay them because a small bet, or possibly an all-in, may level him into thinking you have a missed draw.

When someone you know to be wild shows up at the start of the day, it is often difficult to tell what kind of mood he is in. Some players play perfectly sane until they lose a large pot. Others play overly aggressive at the start of their sessions then tighten up as the day progresses. Always be sure to note each specific player’s tendencies so you can make profitable decisions against them in the future.

It is also worth mentioning that the river is a nasty spot because you likely planned to call if Gustav made a sizable bet, due to his crazed image. It is difficult to tell if your plan to call was bad because Gustav actually had a hand he likely perceived to have some showdown value. Perhaps if he had total air, he would have gone all-in. If instead of 8-5 he showed down 5-4, your plan to call a river would have almost certainly been very incorrect.

Jonathan Little on Live No-Limit Cash Games Volume 2I hope you enjoyed this hand from Jonathan Little on Live No-Limit Cash Games Volume 2. Would you have played this hand differently? Do you enjoy hand quizzes in this format? Let me know! Be sure to check back next week for another educational blog post.


12 thoughts on “Combating a Maniac”

  1. I’d have played it similar to you JL, although as noted, knowledge of the players style is essential for me to call the turn. If unknown I’d probably 85% fold & 15% call the turn with a river check or fold to river bet.

  2. Why would the call be incorrect if he showed 54? As played and with his image, 54 is as likely as 85. Could you clarify the reasoning behind your statement?

    1. When he checks the river, if he has a hand with no showndown value, it implies he is not bluffing the river too often with air. If he isn’t bluffing the river with air, you should fold your bluff catchers.

  3. Jonathan, after this example I ordered your book from Amazon. Might I suggest that you play a few tournaments recording every hand (like Gus Hansen’s seminal Every Hand Revealed) because the thought process in a tournament from beginning to end would be very instructive.

    Yves aka ‘flintsword’

    1. I suggest you check out The Main Event with Jonathan Little, Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker Volume 3, and Jonathan Little on Live No Limit Cash Volume 2. All of those are hand history books similar to every hand revealed.

  4. I enjoy this format, as you present us the problem, then options to solve them whilst also giving us a chance to reason our own way to choosing a specific option with the opportunity to compare our thought process to yours. great stuff, keep up the good work JL

  5. I will be arriving at Aria casino tomorrow and will be hitting the 1-3 NL table as soon as I can get a seat. I’m landing around lunchtime. Hope to see you there!

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