If you frequently play Pot Limit poker of any variety, you may have witnessed a phenomenon known as pre-flop madness. It is unique inasmuch as it rarely seems to occur in No-Limit games, and could not possibly happen in Fixed-Limit.
However, there seems to be a switch that is activated in players´ heads when they first sit at a PL table – especially in tournament play – that transforms them from normal, constrained regular Joes into drooling, chip-hurling Zombies eager to out-raise any bet that comes their way.
If you have the good fortune to meet one of these crazed monsters at your table, resist the temptation is to join in. In reality, you should keep your head down, interpret how other players are responding to the dynamics of the table, and choose your time carefully to get involved. Our monster(s) will have lost all perception of position, value and odds. They are not over-aggressive players as a rule, or bulldog poker players who can be tamed by betting into their weak hands (another subject to keep an eye out for), but truly wild animals who want to fight each other over who has the best two initial cards before the flop has even been dealt.
The way to deal with it is to imagine that you are in a SnG, where everybody but you has to go all-in every hand. If you wait long enough, there will only be one guy with a big pile of chips and you. Imagine the state of mind that he is in – delirious almost to the point of tilt after effectively being involved in a stakes race. Now consider how easily a good player would be able to pick him off.
If you expand this concept to tournament play, there would be one bad player with that big pile of chips, and a handful of good ones who have avoided the madness and are still in the game – your Zombie does not have a chance!
This is not just a single incident that has been witnessed – it appears to occur frequently, and for anybody who can “keep their head, when all around seem to be losing theirs” this is an incredible opportunity to play ultra-tight, weather the storm, slow the clock right down and allow the Zombies to beat each other up. Ultimately you, and anybody else who can also resist getting involved in the mayhem, will be in the prize money before the first break.
Keep an eye out for the “madmen”. If exploited properly, they will usually enhance your chip stack at some stage of the proceedings, and you can be sure that they will not be there at the end of the game – here’s hoping you will!