What is a ‘Maniac’?
In poker, ‘maniac’ is a colloquial expression used to describe someone playing a very loose and aggressive game – that is, playing a lot of hands and firing a lot of large bets into the pot. It is derived from the term ‘mania’, which describes a frenzied or unpredictable mood. A player could be described as ‘playing like a maniac’ or said to be a ‘maniac’ at the table.
Poker players typically live by the phrase “know when to fold ’em”. If a hand is not strong or if other players have a better chance of making something good from the draw or flop, it might be worth withdrawing from that hand and waiting for the next one in order to minimise losses. Knowing when to play and when to drop is a big part of the game of poker.
Playing very few hands and being cautious when betting is known as tight play, whereas playing many hands and being liberal with raises is known as loose play. A player who engages in extremely loose play might be referred to as a maniac. This maniac at the table is spending a lot on every hand, firing bets of large value and getting involved with every opportunity to raise and go heads up with another player for the pot.
Sometimes, this style of play can be an intimidation tactic, aiming to get opponents to fold and therefore take the pot from them. An inexperienced player might also try to bluff their way through the game with the bravado of a maniac to cover up their novice status. Occasionally, the strategy can be a good one and the player can come off well, but more often, a very loose style of play means many lost hands for the player.