How to Play Against Wild and Unpredictable Poker Players
One of the hardest things to learn in poker is how to play against wild and unpredictable poker players.
You've seen them before. They are splashing around in every pot. They can literally have any two cards. They chase every draw and they make wild bluffs with nothing. It can be downright maddening to try and figure out what these lunatics can have!
But there is definitely a right way and a wrong way to play against these types of players. The first thing that you have to learn is patience.
It is absolutely vital that you remain patient against these types of players because they are going to get on your nerves, especially when they get lucky against you. This is perhaps the hardest lesson of all to learn. Yes, these wild and unpredictable maniacs can get good hands, too, and it is important not to let it throw you off your game when that happens.
Check out this poker hand for instance:
In this hand we three-bet with from middle position versus a maniac who has raised from under the gun. Normally I would not choose to three-bet in this spot. But against a player like this one who can literally have almost any two cards, reraising our ace-jack suited for value here is a fine option.
When he decides to four-bet, I think we do need to respect this player's range a little bit. However, I am by no means putting this kind of player on only A-A or K-K when he four-bets. We have to remember this is a wild and unpredictable maniac. He probably has something relatively decent when he decides to reraise back, but it is not necessarily the nuts like it will be for many other "normal" poker players.
So we call and see a flop where we smash it with two pair. When he checks to us, I love the decision to just go ahead and bet here. This is because he can have so many hands that we are ahead of such as any random , all sorts of flush and straight draws, and so on. The maniac calls and we go to a turn.
The turn is a pretty good card for us. It really changes very little. If he has , well, then he already had us beat on the flop. So when this player decides to come out and make a very fishy one-fifth pot bet, I think we 100 percent need to be raising it up here for value. However, I highly disagree with the raise-sizing in this spot. I think we should have raised it a lot more — i.e., a pot-size raise.
You never want to get sucked into an opponent's little game of tiny bets that can make it mathematically viable for them to continue with almost anything. You need to be making a significant raise in this spot to get value from worse hands and to charge all his draws. In any case, the maniac calls our raise and we go to the river.
The river brings the , and once again I think this is a really good card for us. It really doesn't complete any straight draws that didn't already have us beat on the flop, and of course, the flush missed as well. Therefore when he leads with one of these fishy little tiny bets again, I highly agree with the decision to shove all in here.
When he calls and flips over pocket eights, as I mentioned at the beginning all you can really do is laugh. This is the kind of stuff that will happen sometimes when you are playing against wild and unpredictable players. You can't allow this kind of stuff to set you off. You simply need to ask yourself, did I play this hand to the best of my ability at all stages?
I think better decisions definitely could have been made in this hand, on the turn in particular. That raise sizing is simply way, way too small. You need to charge these maniacs much more in order to call with their nonsense hands like this. And then if they still call and hit their miracle on the river, well, God bless them! Unfortunately, that is just how poker works sometimes.
I want to know what you guys think, though. How would you have played this poker hand? Do you have trouble playing against wild and unpredictable players like this?
Let me know in the comments below!
Nathan "BlackRain79" Williams is the author of the popular micro stakes strategy books Crushing the Microstakes, Modern Small Stakes, and The Microstakes Playbook. He also blogs regularly about all things related to the micros over at www.blackrain79.com.