If you play in low-stakes Texas Hold’em games, you’re likely to face limpers on a pretty frequent basis. Whether live or online, poker players at this level tend to be more passive on average. Therefore, frequent limping is just a part of the game that you need to learn to deal with. Luckily for us, it also tends to be a profitable one if you handle it correctly. In this article, we’ll share several tips that will help you to crush those pesky limpers.
To begin with, let’s be very clear about what we mean when we talk about limpers. Limping is the act of entering a pot by simply calling rather than raising the big blind. This is sometimes called open-limping, as opposed to open-raising where you come into the pot with a raise.
On the other hand, you have over-limping, also known as limping behind. This is not the same thing and doing so can even be profitable, which you will soon understand as you read on. So, when we talk about beating limpers, we are talking about open-limping.
As is so often the case in poker, the first thing you must do when faced with a limp is to assess the table. Every opponent and scenario is different, and in this case, you should do one of two things. This decision will shape the rest of your strategy for successfully crushing limpers moving forward.
When a player limps, they are telling you that they have a hand worth playing and want to see a flop with it. It may not be a premium hand like pocket aces, but they have something of at least some value. However, as we discussed in our article on common preflop mistakes, limping is generally seen as something of a weak play.
A talented and experienced player will know better than to limp in and would raise almost all of the time. So, generally speaking, we can comfortably raise with a wider range, knowing that we can likely outplay them on later streets. We can earn more in the long run by isolating this poorer-than-average player. And who knows, you may even take the pot there and then.
But nothing in poker is ever that simple! There are, of course, exceptions to this strategy for dealing with limpers. If you are up against a player that you know to be extremely good and who is likely to have a well-considered and balanced limping range, proceed with caution. Although these players are rare, they do exist.
Further on, if there are tricky and aggressive players behind you who like to 3-bet often, there is a case for over-limping rather than raising. Finally, consider the type of poker game you are in. If you’re up against short stacks, any skill or positional advantage will be eroded, for instance. In such cases, you may be better off slowing down a little.
So with that caveat out of the way, here are our top tips to successfully deal with limpers.
With your premium pocket pairs, there’s rarely any value in getting tricky against a limper. Put them to the test in order to extract maximum value from your strong hand against what is likely a weaker one. And if you take the pot down right away, that’s no problem.
With hands like JJ or TT, you still want to be raising, especially if facing several limpers. It’s important to thin out the field in order to reduce your chances of being out-flopped.
Raising With Medium-Strength Hands
If you’re in position, you can also comfortably raise a limper with mid-strength hands. It may not have much showdown value, perhaps something like a T-9 or J-T suited. But it’s never a bad idea to isolate a limper as they are likely to be weak and easier to outplay post-flop.
Don’t go overboard with medium-strength hands though. Make sure you’re in position and remember that a limp still signifies some kind of hand, albeit not a premium one.
Limping behind when there’s a case for having good implied odds is not a bad play when holding something speculative. Great over-limping hands include tiny pocket pairs, suited Ace-rag type hands, and of course, suited connectors.
They’re easy to throw away if the flop is unsuitable, but you can easily stack an opponent with the right flop.
Finally, as with most situations in poker, it’s worth repeating that you need to know your opponent. You must understand how they play and what they are trying to achieve. Many limpers will be playing a basic game, raising with premium hands, folding junk, and limping the rest. But others will not.
If you’re against a tricky player and smell a trap, trust your instincts. The last thing you need is to have to fold to a limp-raise because you were eager to raise with too wide of a range.
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