Quick post today concerning a situation that arose recently at the table. I was about 5 hours into a session. I had gotten stacked early for a $300 buy-in and rebought. I was slowly grinding back toward even. My stack stood at about $475, meaning I was down $125. At this point, a young-ish, self-purported $2 / $5 player sits down directly to my right. He has clearly put plenty of time in at the tables, as evident by his chip-handling and general demeanor. He buys in for $200, but appears to be just messing around, perhaps until a $2 /$5 seat opens. He is straddling every hand and making some strange plays. I've been playing TAG since his arrival at the table, when I look down at TT. Although I'm in position on him preflop, he takes it away with his Mississippi Straddle (we're playing at Deleware Park where players can straddle from any position). I'm first to act and raise to $12. It folds around to Maniac who shoves all in for $186. I narrow his range down to . . . any two cards. This kid is smiling at me; basically mocking the Triple P. Again, having already been stacked and having worked hard over the last few hours to grind back up near even, I'm not in the mood to flip for the pot. I fold. Maniac declares, "I knew you'd fold; you've been playing real tight."
Twenty minutes later I snag AT off. Someone else at the table gets the straddle in first, so I maintain my position on Maniac. It limps around with a handful of callers (including Maniac) and I raise to $10. 4 callers including Maniac. Flop comes out J high and misses my hand completely. It checks around and I fire out $27. Fold, fold, fold over to Maniac, who again shoves on my bet. I really think my hand is good here. But at the same time, I'm again not willing to "gamble" nearly $200. I fold and Maniac thinks its hilarious (fyi . . . he did not show either hand). Not in the mood for this sh*t, I get a table change and move on with the session.
So, the question is this: how do you handle this situation? Is it as simple as being patient and waiting for your spot? Is there a better tactic?