Poker strategy - playing raise Devils

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Playing raise devils

When you play poker online, you will sooner or later find yourself at a table where you are up against a raise devil, also known as a maniac in the poker literature. This guy bets and raises every time he gets a chance, regardless of his hole cards. When the rest of the players find out that it is a raise devil situation, the psychology of the game and the betting pattern will change. Many players, especially those familiar with the literature, will tighten up and wait for AK or a pair of aces to knock him out. Others will spot an easy prey and try to run over him as soon as possible. This is because they figure that he will lose all his chips, and they want to take the lion's share of it. Both strategies are clearly wrong. The first one doesn't allow you to capitalize enough on the situation and the second is directly dangerous. Let's investigate why.

Why do they exist?

First we have to understand why these maniacs exist. Many times it is cool tight aggressive players - like you and me - who due to a fast gain or loss has been manipulated by the game to think that the relity laws of the game has been suspended for a short period of time. Sooner or later they will snap out of it, often because they are broke. Other times it is very drunk players, who insist on playing even though they really shouldn't. These guys stop when they are either broke or when they sober up. Together this is the temporary raisedevils.

We also have another kind of maniacs, the permanent ones. These guys get a thrill out of ruining other players and making as much damage as possible. They are driven by their egos, and perhaps bad childhood experiences, and they get a kick out off: Bluffing other players out of big pots with nothing, catch a lucky river card and ruin another player who just tried to play a superior hand, trying to dominate the table verbally playing some kind off psychopath who took a master degree in poker psychology and off course confuse the heck out off their opponents. These guys like to manipulate and this is their reason for playing poker, not to create value for themselves in terms of dollars.

The funny thing is that even though everybody knows that player X is betting and raising everything (often including the raisedevil himself), he will very often succeed in making a lot of damage, because he changes the betting pattern and psychology of the game.

What you should do

First you have to forget everything about punishing the raisedevils for being mean idiots. Just forget about it. The permanent ones probably have been punished all their lifes since inception, and they will probably continue to be punished until they die (or realise that their behaviour is not consistent with living a high quality life). And the temporary ones you should feel sorry for - it could have been you! But all of this this really doesn't matter to you, because of your ambitions about creating value for yourself.

You should take a look at yourself to start with. Do you feel like taking the risks that is necessary to take down the excess return that is presented to you? If not we simply suggest that you use a so called exit strategy, and find a normal table where you can play your regular game. This will be better in the long run, instead of sitting all night with a maniac, and only play AA or AK.

Now if you feel okay about the risks you have to take on yourself by playing in a game with a raisedevil, we can consider strategies for making value in such a game. It is important that you sit to the left of the maniac. This is because of the most obvious strategy, the isolation strategy. If you are able to raise his bet and get him isolated and you only play descent hands, especially ace combined with anything, you will get the better of him in the majority off the hands and make your return through this. Whether this is possible depends on the other players. Perhaps some kind of implicit arrangement will occur, where you take him heads up on shift. Such a strategy can't hold forever though, since sooner it gets too tempting for somebody breake it. This leads us to the second strategy: To feed on the players who try to eat the perceived easy raise devil money. You know that the raisedevil is going to bet and raise, and you know that the isolators will raise with only reasonable hands. So here you should just limp in with premium hands and let the raisedevil bet and let the isolator do what he does, and just keep calling (except in the very end). They do the betting and you earn the money - poker doesn't get better than this.

Regardless of which strategy you use, it is important that you keep a reality check on yourself through the entire maniac game, because everything is turned up-side-down. You might have to do unusual things in these kinds of games, and this may corrupt your play, so that you become a maniac yourself. Beware and stay focused and don't feel that you have missed a lot by leaving the maniac table to the advantage of a more peaceful one. It might be better for your bankroll that your playing hasn't been interrupted by a wild game.

Written by Smith Jones - a writer at

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