World Series of Poker Europe

Jonathan Little Combats a Maniacal Opponent's Extreme Aggression

Jonathan Little Combats a Maniacal Opponent's Extreme Aggression
  • How to combat a maniac's extreme aggression? @JonathanLittle reviews an EPT hand in which he tried.

  • On the river with a medium-strength hand, do you call a maniac's big, polarizing bet or let it go?

The European Poker Tour is just about to start its 13th season in Barcelona, and this week I have another EPT hand to review — this one coming from a €2,000 side event.

The blinds were 150/300 with a 25 ante, and when it folded around to me in the cutoff I raised to 800 with {K-Diamonds}{Q-Spades}. It folded to this crazy Russian kid in the small blind — a regular on the EPT circuit who is known to be insanely aggressive — and he three-bet to 2,600. We both had around 30,000 to start the hand (I had him slightly covered).

The big blind folded, and I called the reraise. It might seem strange, but I could have even four-bet here with king-queen offsuit against this particular player (and in a cash game I might have). But here I just called, and we saw the flop come {A-Diamonds}{J-Diamonds}{6-Diamonds}.

My opponent checked, and with my nut-flush draw and gutshot Broadway straight draw I decided to check behind. The turn was the {K-Spades}, and my opponent bet 2,300. I had very good odds to call with my draws, although I wasn't sure I could get much more should I hit my straight or flush. I did call, and the river brought the {A-Spades}.

With 10,325 in the middle, my opponent made a big bet of 8,800, putting significant pressure on me. Against a "normal" player, I'd likely fold, but against this super-aggressive opponent, it was a harder decision.

See what happened (and hear my thinking along the way):

When facing a maniac, you have to realize that you will be put in difficult spots when in hands against them. Sometimes you will win a large pot, but other times you will lose your stack.

It is important to play in a manner that keeps the maniac in hands with a wide range of bluffs. If you respond to a maniac's aggression with aggression of your own, you will frequently force him to play well, which is the exact opposite of what you want.

Let me know what you think about this hand — should I have played it differently preflop? On the flop or turn? Or on the river?

Jonathan Little is a professional poker player and author with over $6,300,000 in live tournament earnings. He writes a weekly educational blog and hosts a podcast at You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanLittle.

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