The ‘Limp’

December 31, 2009 |

In this article I want to take a look at a pre-flop play that can always be the center of debate, the limp. Is limping into the hand effective, or are you setting yourself up for disaster by making this move? No matter what type of game you play; whether it be a multi-table tournament, a sit & go, super turbo tournament, or cash game, players will limp into the pot. The player could be a professional or perhaps the player is a fish/donkey. The quality of player can determine whether the limp is a strong play or a weak play. Odds are that if a quality player is performing the limp then they are trying to set up some sort of play on the table. If a limp is being performed by a ‘fish’ like player then odds point to them playing a wide range of hands. I want to give my take on limping hands and how to exploit the limper.

When deciding what hands to limp, there multiple factors that can come into play. First thing that comes to mind is the amount of blinds you have within your chip stack. I feel that it is okay to limp into hand if your holding 30 or more big blinds. This is because you still have a quality chip stack behind in case you are forced to fold pre-flop. Limping hands like suited connectors and low pairs are acceptable in my opinion. If you were to hit a flop (set, straight, flush) with hands like I just mentioned then you have the opportunity of winning a big pot. Though the odds of hitting a big flop, and then proceeding to get paid off will not likely happen; thus making the limp controversial. Limping hands like AA, KK, or any quality starting hand can be frowned upon. By doing so you are allowing multiple players to enter the pot, and that’s just more chances for those players to crack your big hands. Also you are getting no information on the hands that the other players are limping in with. They tell you nothing about their hand when they limp into the pot. I learned some more on this by watching a video of Phil Gordon. Phil Gordon refuses to limp in if he is the first player to voluntarily put chips into the pot. So the limp is all player dependent, and it’s all up to you on how you want to play.

Often times I hear my poker professional friends discuss how they like to bully the player that does limp into the pot. They see it as a sign of weakness and more often than not they are correct on their assumption. Now you don’t want to raise every pot when there is a limper involved, but you can take advantage of their play. If a player is constantly limping in then it’s obvious that they are willing to gamble. This is the person you can afford to make a play on. Try raising the action pre-flop to force them to fold. If they happen to call your pre-flop raise which they ultimately will, you should be able to force them off their hand with a bet on the flop. I see it over and over when I play online. Player 1 will limp and once player 2 raises then player 1 will instantly shy away from the hand. Another limping play that I see online is when a player is in late position, and they choose to limp into the hand. 98% of the time the blinds will instantly check, the initial limper will put out a small bet on the flop (83% of the time it’s a min bet), and then both blinds will fold. I see it way too often, so if you are in the blinds try to exploit this type of play.

Craig Fleck

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