Limping in Poker – How to Crush Limpers in Your Games
If you are an experienced poker player, you probably already know that limping is not a good strategy and that you should avoid doing it.
However, although they know they shouldn’t limp themselves, a lot of poker players struggle to exploit players that do.
So apart from learning what is limping in poker for players that are new to the term, we are also going to teach you how you can punish players that limp in your games.
What Is Limping in Poker?
In poker, limping refers to the act of entering a pot by just calling the minimum bet instead of making a raise.
The act of limping happens pre-flop, when the first action is to call or raise, but instead of raising, the player decides to just call the big blind bet.
For example, the blinds are $5/$10, and the player in the HJ (hijack) decides to limp into the pot by just calling the big bling of $10 instead of making a raise to $20 or more.
Why You Should Avoid Limping
Limping can be a strategic move used to disguise the strength of a hand, particularly if a player has a strong poker hand and want to entice others to enter the pot by not making a raise.
However, it can also be seen as a weak play as it allows other players to enter the pot cheaply and get a chance to improve their hands.
Here are some of the reasons why limping in poker can actually be a very costly mistake:
Giving up Initiative
When you limp, you are giving up the initiative in the hand to your opponents. This means that through the rest of the hand, your opponent will be the aggressor and this will give him more opportunities to win the pot even if he does not have a good hand.
Not Controlling the Size of the Pot
By limping, you are also allowing more players to enter the hand, which makes it harder for you to control the size of the pot.
This can make it difficult to extract value from your strong hands since you will have a more difficult time putting your opponents on correct hand ranges.
Furthermore, since you are up against multiple opponents there is a higher chance that some of them will make a better hand than yours.
Limping typically indicates a weak hand or a speculative hand that wants to see a cheap flop. This means that when you do limp, you are giving away information about the strength of your hand, which can allow your opponents to exploit you.
Losing Fold Equity
By limping you are reducing fold equity or in other words losing the ability to force your opponents to fold.
This is because when you limp your opponents are more likely to continue with their hand since they have to put less money in the pot than they would if you made a raise.
For the reasons mentioned above, limping in poker is generally not a recommended strategy. It can put you at a disadvantage in many ways including initiative, pot control, range and fold equity.
This is why professional poker players will tell you that it is better to either raise or fold, depending on the strength of your hand and the situation at the table.
Over-Limping or Limping Behind in Poker
You should also be aware that there is a difference between limping when you are the first person in the pot (open-limping) and limping after other players (over-limping).
But first, let’s see how these two actions look in an example.
Let’s say that you are in the CO. The UTG and the HJ fold, the action is on you, and you decide to just call the big blind bet. This move is known as open-limping since you are the first player in the pot and you did not make a raise.
Now imagine the same scenario just this time, the UTG folds but the HJ decides to call the big blind bet.
The action is on you and you decide to also call the big bling bet. In this scenario, your move would be characterized as over-limping since you are not the first in the hand who just called the big blind bet.
When it comes to strategy, the main difference between open-limping and over-limping is that good players will avoid limping at all costs while they will use over-limping in some situations such as:
- When they have a playable hand that is not strong enough to iso-raise with
- When there are aggressive players behind who are more likely to 3-bet them when they make an iso-raise
Unlike limping, over-limping can be a good approach in some situations as it allows us to increase the number of hands we play against weaker opponents.
Exploiting Limpers Preflop
Limpers are usually treated as weak players and professionals will do everything they can to play as many pots as possible against this type of opponent.
Depending on the situation and the opponent, there are a few different ways in which you can exploit limpers preflop.
Let’s start with a general strategy that you should have in place when you are facing limpers that you have no reads on.
General Strategy Against Limpers Preflop
If you just sat at the table and you notice one or more players limping often, the best way to approach this spot, until you get reads, would be to continue playing your usual preflop ranges (or even a bit tighter).
What this means is if one player limps before you, you should raise with the same range of hands as if they folded, but you should adjust your bet size by adding an extra big blind.
If multiple players limp before it is your turn to act, you should tighten your raising range and adjust your bet size by adding an extra big blind for each player that has limped.
Here are a few examples:
You are playing $1/$2 No Limit Hold’em. UTG and HJ fold, CO makes a call, and you are on the button with A♠J♠.
If the action was folded to you, you would raise with this hand, so you should raise in this situation as well.
If your normal bet size in this spot would be 2x the bb or $4, now you need to add an extra big blind ($2) to your bet size since you are facing one limper
With all this in mind, in this situation, you should raise A♠J♠ to $6 on the Button.
You are playing $1/$2 No Limit Hold’em. UTG folds, HJ and CO make a call, and you are on the Button with A♠J♠.
If the action was folded to you, you would normally raise, so you should raise in this situation as well.
If your normal raise size here is $4, you now need to add two extra big blinds ($4) to your bet size since you are facing two limpers.
With all this in mind, in this situation, you should raise A♠J♠ to $8 on the button.
You are playing $1/$2 No Limit Hold’em. UTG folds, HJ and CO make a call, and you are on the button with A♠7♦.
If the action was folded to you, you would normally raise with A♦7♦ on the button. However, you are facing two unknown limpers and A♦7♦ may not be strong enough to isolate with
With all this in mind, you can over-limp with this hand to try and see a cheap flop and play the rest of the hand in position.
Creating an Optimal Strategy to Counter Limpers Preflop
When it comes to playing against limpers in poker there isn’t a one fits all solution, and if you want to play optimally in these situations, you will have to adjust your strategy based on a few different factors including:
- Opponent type
- Effective stack size
Creating a Strategy Against Limpers Based on the Opponent Type
There are several different types of limpers that you will encounter at the tables, and for each type, you should have a different strategy in place.
With this said here are the two main types:
- Limpers that often fold to raises
- Limpers that almost always call raises
When you are playing against a player that limps with a wide range and folds to a lot of raises, you should look to expand your iso-raising range as much as possible.
There are a lot of limpers that call with almost their entire limping range. Against this type of opponent, you should tighten your iso-raising range and avoid making isolation raises with mediocre hands.
Note that most of the limpers you will face will probably be limpers that limp-call with almost all of their limping range.
Creating a Strategy Against Limpers Based on the Effective Stack Size
Stack size is another crucial factor that you should take into account when adjusting your strategy against limpers in poker.
When you are deciding how to approach a spot in which one or multiple players have limped pay attention to the effective stack, i.e., determine which player in the hand has the smallest stack size and how big it is.
Based on the stack size adjust your iso-raising range in the following way:
- Against limpers, with a short stack, you should tighten your iso-raising range since the stack-to-pot ratio will be low and you most likely be committed to going with your hand after the flop.
- Against limpers who have 100bb or more, you can go with a wider iso-rasing range since the stack-to-pot ratio will be higher and you will not be committed to the pot after the flop.
Creating a Strategy Against Limpers Based on Positions
And last but not least, like with all other poker concepts, you should always take into account your position at the table when deciding how to approach a hand in which one or more players have limped.
Based on the poker positions, here is how you should adjust your iso-raising range and possibly your bet sizing:
- When you are in position, you can isolate limpers with a wider range and with a normal (+1 bb per limper) bet sizing.
- When you are out of position, you should tighten your iso-raising range and possibly use a bigger (+2 bb for the first limper and +1bb for each additional limper) bet sizing.
When you are in position, you will have a positional advantage through the rest of the hand and you have no issues with the limper calling your raise since you can use your position to maneuver post-flop and win the pot even with a worse hand.
However, if you are going to be out of position for the rest of the hand, you should look to discourage the limper from continuing by giving him a worst price on a call.
You should use a tighter range that will help you to somewhat neutralize the positional disadvantage once the flop is out.
In addition to this, you should also pay attention to how many players are to act after you and adjust your iso-rasing range accordingly.
The more players are to act after you, the stronger range you need to iso-raise since there is a higher possibility that some of them will wake up with a hand.