Playing Against The Loose Aggressive Player
We have all encountered these players at the tables before. Their presence can't be ignored at the poker table and it can be rather intimidating to play against them. These players are often nicknamed 'maniacs' because the way they play can be so wild and loose that it almost seems crazy. However, for the professional No-Limit Texas Hold'em player, they are also some of the most profitable players to play against.
Identifying the Loose Aggressive Player
It's not difficult to recognize the loose aggressive player (LAP) at all. He is the one who plays any two cards and is in almost every pot, betting and raising. He bluffs on the flop frequently and often takes down the pot on the flop with an aggressive overbet.
Basic Dos and Don'ts When Playing Against a Maniac
When you know the person you are playing against is a loose/aggressive maniac, you will need to make some adjustments to your strategies and tactics accordingly.
Don't Make the Continuation Bet
Generally, don't expect this player to fold. The word 'fold' is not in his dictionary. Hence the continuation bet is often a waste of money against the loose aggressive maniac.
If you have a hand and seriously want him to fold, consider pushing all-in. Make him risk his whole stack if he wants to play. Otherwise, check and prepare to fold and wait for a better opportunity.
Better Not Bluff the Maniac
Don't try to bluff the loose aggressive player, he probably wouldn't understand what you are trying to represent. He probably thinks, "Ah! More money in the pot! All the better if I hit the spade on the next card."
Don't Try to Read The Maniac
One of the key strengths the loose aggressive player possesses is that it's very tough to know what he is holding. He bets with any two cards! Just remind yourself that he is usually holding something crappy or he is on a draw. The problem with trying to read the maniac is that, owing to the way he bets, we often credit him for having a much better hand than he actually possess, especially when the board looks scary.
Sit to His Left, If Possible
Ideally, you want to sit immediately to his left. This position allows you to act only after he acted, giving you two important advantages. Firstly, his frequent raises will not cost you much when you limp in with mediocre hands since you can decide to limp in only after he had folded or limped in as well. Secondly, you can reraise his bet to isolate and play heads up against him when you have a good starting hand.
Sun Tzu's Hold'em Strategies Against The Maniac
The loose aggressive poker player can be quite a dangerous opponent to play with. His aggression can be very intimidating, especially to weak-tight players, but like all loose players, the maniac has a fundamental weakness.
Invincibility depends on one's self; The enemy's vulnerability on him." - Sun Tzu
According to Sun Tzu, the maniac's loose play makes him vulnerable to mediocre hands. The problem most players face against the maniac is that they don't dare to bet their mediocre hands strongly against him.
Now that you know the enemy, you must now know yourself. More specifically, you must know whether your hand is good enough to take on the maniac. My simple advice is to play tight, and as long as you hit any pair on the flop, it's good enough.
Statistically, with two non-paired hole cards, a player hits the flop only about 1/3 of the time. Thus, by playing any two cards, the loose aggressive hold'em player put himself at risk most of the time. He is able to survive usually because his aggression keeps his opponent folding. Sure he may not have hit anything, but his willingness to bet heavily deters tighter opponents who also have not hit anything or had hit something small to fold.
However, don't relax your tight starting hand selection just because a maniac is playing at the table and you are eager to take him on. Play tight preflop as usual and hit the flop with strong starting hands.
Once you hit any of your two hole cards on the flop, it's very likely that you will have him beat and it's time to take on the loose aggressive hold'em player. If there are other players in the hand, try to isolate to play heads up against the maniac by reraising aggressively.
You don't need a fantastic hand to beat the loose aggressive poker player. Knowing that on average, a player hit the flop roughly 1/3 of the time, all you need is to hit top or second pair on the flop to take the pot. In any case, loose players like to chase straight or flush draws and if they do hit, it doesn't matter if you are flopped a set or two pairs.
"When torrential water tosses boulders, it is because of momentum. When the strike of a hawk breaks the body of its prey, it is because of timing. Thus, the momentum of one skilled in war is overwhelming, and his attack precisely regulated. His potential is that of a fully drawn crossbow; his timing, the release of the trigger." - Sun Tzu
Now comes the most important part. Once you have committed on the flop, be prepared to go all the way with your entire stack. Don't let that overcard on the turn or river scare you off. By playing tight preflop and playing tight on the flop, you have already covered your bases. Hence, when you attack, you must attack with force. Remember, fear is the weapon of choice of the maniac. Don't give in to it. Sure, you may get rivered from time to time but that is unavoidable when playing against a loose aggressive opponent. This is where the size of your bankroll comes into play.
The Importance of Your Bankroll
Due to the fact that you will either win or lose big pots with the loose/aggressive maniac, you need to be aware of the impact on your bankroll should you get rivered by these guys. In any case, it's a must to prepare a sizable bankroll when playing No-Limit Texas Hold'em as the swings can get very high.