“Maniacs” at the poker table love to bet and raise. The other night, playing in a limit game at the Hustler Casino, there was a big, fat, sloppy man I labeled as “SuperManiac” – raising and re-raising almost every hand.
Others at the table often joined him in capping the betting. With three raises allowed per round, most pots were huge – opportunity to cash in big time. But it also could be perilous: Second-best can cost you stacks of chips! In this case, our “Two-Step” poker strategy takes on added importance.
Step 1: Be highly selective in your starting hands.
The Hold’em Algorithm is strongly recommended. With SuperManiac at the table, avoid marginal drawing hands you might otherwise play from late position. Made hands and premium drawing hands are preferred.
Having decided to play a hand, accept the fact that it may cost you four bets to see the flop. Other players enter the fray – vying for the piles of chips that are feeding the pot. Like a “get rich quick” scheme, aggressive players flock to it like moths attracted to light.
Deciding to play a hand, you pay your “dues” of the capped preflop betting and are ready.
Step 2: Connect on the flop or fold.
You must catch a made hand that can win at the showdown without further improvement or hold at least six outs – two overcards to the board, a draw to an open-ended straight (eight outs), or to a flush (nine outs). In late positions, five outs might be acceptable against a single raise. (Ex: A middle/small pair with a high kicker).
Playing cautiously for about an hour, I had doubled my buy-in, and was contemplating going into Money-Management mode. In the blind, I had A-7 suited in the hole. SuperManiac made his “customary” raise. Fortunately, no reraises.
Five other opponents called to see the flop. Costing me just one more small bet, the implied pot odds were favorable. The flop brought another Ace and two unconnected cards. Holding two Aces, I decided to participate in the betting action, although I was somewhat concerned about my kicker, a seven.
Wanting to see where my hand stood, I opened the betting on the flop. When SuperManiac raised, I wasn’t surprised. Several opponents called – no further raising. Good, so far. Maybe my Aces with 7 kicker was good. My confidence was growing.
I re-raised when the betting got to me. SuperManiac capped the betting with the third raise. Everyone called. What a pot! That beautiful card on the turn was a red 7, giving me two-pair, Aces and 7s! Far from the Nuts, but it could be the winner.
With two suited cards on the board, my only concern was that someone might be drawing to a flush. Thus far, all the other opponents besides SuperManiac had not displayed aggressiveness. My confidence surged! I came out betting on the turn.
No free cards. Two opponents called, then SuperManiac made his sual raise. Checking my hole cards (don’t misread your hand!), I re-raised. With the pot so huge, the two opponents after me called the double-raise. Knowing how SuperManiac plays, I was prepared for his raise, capping the betting for that round.
The river card was a brick, not likely to help anyone. While my hand was far from the Nuts, based on how the betting had gone, I felt reasonably confident that my two-pair (As and 7s), was the best hand. So I bet for value.
The more chips I could get into the pot, the more I should benefit. I got two callers. True to form, SuperManiac raised. I just called, as did the other two players.
SuperManiac held a small pair. One opponent showed A-9, another had A-10. The dealer pushed the biggest pot of the night to me – thanks to my two-pair and SuperManiac!
(“The Engineer,” a noted author and teacher in the West Los Angeles area, is a member of the Seniors Poker Hall of Fame. Contact him at [email protected]).