Open limping one's entire range from UTG and UTG+1

moishetreatsmoishetreats Red Chipper Posts: 1,819 ✭✭✭✭
edited December 2 in Live Poker Hands
For a few months, I've been toying with something in certain scenarios and have been overwhelmingly pleased with the play and the results. I thought to share it here and get your feedback.

The idea:
In typical low-limit live games, limping my entire range from UTG and UTG+1.


The conditions:
1. Live play.
2. Full or near full table. If it's 5- or 6-handed, then forget it.
3. "Typical" low-limit table with lots of limpers or lots of players who cold-call open-raises.
4. "Typical" low 3bet frequency from players and inexperience defending against 3bets pre-flop and post-flop.
5. 100BB stack sizes being the most common stack size and not more than 2 big stacks (i.e., 200BB+).

I know that reads like a lot of factors to be true, but I have found that they are all true as a default the majority of the time.


The impetus:
I was a believer in the axiom of not limping pre-flop. I found that to be a big challenge from early position in most games. Whether I opened with a wide or tight range from UTG or UTG+1, the likelihood was very high of going multi-way. Heck, even AA from UTG against 3 other players -- while an enviable spot! -- is wrought with landmines post-flop. I'll take it, of course, but I also felt that there had to be a superior alternative.

Similarly, being in EP, I found that I had to raise or fold quite a few playable hands that are not quite right to open raise that early.

In addition, while balance isn't essential at lower-stakes games, open raising some but not all hands is bit too obvious from EP, and even the occasional UTG-limp-then-3bet-play-must-mean-aces doesn't come up often enough (if at all) in a typical session to balance the limping range.

Finally, stacks simply aren't big enough to apply REAL pressure from EP. After an open-raise with two callers, triple-barreling doesn't leave enough fold equity on the river given the likely pot odds, and a check-raise on the flop might only leave a turn shove. Stacks simply aren't deep enough to allow for three streets of meaningful pressure. Given that you're out of the position for the entire hand, pressure is your greatest ally.

Put all that together, and playing out-of-position in a bloated multi-way pot seems to leave most poker skills behind and demand playing your equity outright. So, the challenge is how to relieve that OOP conundrum.

Adjusting open-raise sizes up or down and opening ranges certainly tilt the wheel a little, but they don't really address the core issue of playing big pots multi-way out of position.


The experiment:
Inspired by a question that I had asked @Christian Soto at one point, I had been considering the idea of limping my entire range from UTG and UTG+1 when the game conditions above applied. I have been testing this for a couple of months now, and I have been overwhelmingly thrilled with the outcomes to date.


The upsides:
1. I am almost always closing the action or acting in relative late pre-flop. That allows me to make the most informed decision possible before being in an out-of-position multi-way pot.

2. If everyone limps behind, then I get to play poker with a deeper SPR and apply the kind of pressure that I think is essential to successful OOP poker.

3. If someone in MP open-raises followed by a lot of callers, there is a great opportunity to steal the pot with a 3bet -- the limp-raise pre-flop looks strong.

4. Because most players don't 3bet pre-flop enough, most players aren't comfortable playing pre-flop or post-flop in 3bet pots. This allows me to actually open up my 3betting range here against weaker opponents with weak pre-flop ranges and with less experience playing in 3bet pots.

5. Monster pre-flop hands can be played effectively as part of the 3bet range multi-way or as hands that can trap others in certain flat-calling situations.


The downsides:
1. Open-limping aces and having a few limpers call behind. Though, truthfully, that's entirely worse, IMO, than open-raising aces and having a few callers behind. Still, it's a downside.

2. Missed opportunities to outplay opponents in bigger pots.

3. Missed opportunities to isolate a weaker opponent.

None of those, by the way, bother me too much. I still think that the upside of this play far outweighs those downsides. It's only the fourth that is the real challenge:

4. Getting "caught" 3betting light the first time that you do it. Say that you open-limp with 99, the CO raises, BUT and BB call, and you 3bet. BUT then shoves. If you fold, then the jig is up. If you call (as you probably should), then you have to turn over your hand, and the jig is up. That makes your limp-3betting ploy muuuuuuch less effective.


Overall:
At this point, I'm sticking with this without a doubt.


Your thoughts?
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Comments

  • eugeniusjreugeniusjr Red Chipper Posts: 401 ✭✭✭
    I like that it allows you to play a wider range vs this level of competition, and that it expends the least to do so.

    If isolation is the only reason to raise preflop then, as you stated, we face a conundrum where we either raise very large and constrict our range, or we limp, abandoning the reason to raise preflop but maximizing our opportunities to play with this opposition by widening our range.
  • NYCRyNYCRy Red Chipper Posts: 318 ✭✭✭
    I too have been pondering this the last couple months and experimenting with it. Probably time to fully commit to it for a month or so and see how it goes. I agree with everything you said. And even when you get "caught" its not the end of the world since its likely good for your table image. Also depending on stack sizes/commitment, its probably not terrible to fold the bottom of your range to a 4bet here since a 4bet at these stakes is so heavily weighted towards AA and KK, and you can make your 3bet smaller with the intention of folding sometimes against certain opponents. Good post
  • RedRed Red Chipper Posts: 1,699 ✭✭✭✭
    How is this more EV than just opening ?
  • RedRed Red Chipper Posts: 1,699 ✭✭✭✭
    Also if you're limping your entire UTG / UTG+1 range, what do you do with trash hands like 73o, K3o, 92s, etc., when someone open? And if you got many callers and miss the flop (as it's often the case) ?
  • moishetreatsmoishetreats Red Chipper Posts: 1,819 ✭✭✭✭
    Red wrote: »
    Also if you're limping your entire UTG / UTG+1 range, what do you do with trash hands like 73o, K3o, 92s, etc., when someone open? And if you got many callers and miss the flop (as it's often the case) ?

    To clarify: I am open-limping the entire range that I would otherwise raise from this spot.

    Sorry if that wasn't clear!!
  • RedRed Red Chipper Posts: 1,699 ✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2
    So again, why would you limp your 10-15% UTG/UTG+1 opening range?
    - you allow them to limp behind and outflop you
    - when someone open and you 3bet, you will find many fold (as you said and expect from low stakes weak US players (*) ). Which I think, if +EV, is far from being maxEV as you would if you open and dub/trip barrel for value postflop.


    (*) US players are way weaker and tighter than in Europa and China.
  • TheGameKatTheGameKat Posts: 1,268 -
    That guy with the great radio voice from one of the podcasts has talked about this. I mentioned it to a couple of Vegas brains and got smacked upside the head.
    Moderation In Moderation
  • NYCRyNYCRy Red Chipper Posts: 318 ✭✭✭
    Red wrote: »
    So again, why would you limp your 10-15% UTG/UTG+1 opening range?
    - you allow them to limp behind and outflop you
    - when someone open and you 3bet, you will find many fold (as you said and expect from low stakes weak US players (*) ). Which I think, if +EV, is far from being maxEV as you would if you open and dub/trip barrel for value postflop.


    (*) US players are way weaker and tighter than in Europa and China.

    I mean he literally explained his reasoning for all of this. It was a pretty long, detailed post. He's saying its more beneficial to have someone occasionally outflop you in a low SPR pot(and miss a limp/RR opportunity) than to open a big hand, get outflopped since its 4-way, and potentially lose a much bigger pot OOP. He's also only slightly opening up his 3bet range so will not be "finding many folds."

    I also think its important to realize that creative thinking like this is a good thing and should not at all be frowned upon just because its different from the current groupthink. If your immediate reaction is to poo poo because that's not what the book says, reconsider. If its a bad strategy so what? Its better to learn by doing than to just reject it because everyone else says so
  • Faustovaldez123Faustovaldez123 RCP Coach Posts: 790 ✭✭✭✭
    Good job @moishetreats
    COACHING NOW AVAILABLE HERE
  • eugeniusjreugeniusjr Red Chipper Posts: 401 ✭✭✭
    Red, this allows utg to play a wider range than 11-15%, which is one of the biggest benefits as I see it.
  • RoblivionRoblivion WisconsinRed Chipper Posts: 229 ✭✭✭
    I like the thought. So often you get multiple callers and end up OOP with some kind of one pair hand that's tough to play.
  • Jordan PowerJordan Power Red Chipper Posts: 230 ✭✭✭
    Taking this as carte blanche to relapse to limping small pockets UTG... jk. I'm not experienced enough to know if this is a #good idea, but the rationale seems reasonable and I can see how this would play well in games I play in if you are good post flop. The limp 3 bet throws tables into a loop.

    Would be interested to hear others thoughts; I am not good enough post flop to employ this.
  • NYCRyNYCRy Red Chipper Posts: 318 ✭✭✭
    I did it tonight and won $475 so it must work. Carte Blanche brah
  • jfarrow13jfarrow13 Red Chipper Posts: 1,193 ✭✭✭✭
    Give me a leading strategy before I get on board.
  • RedRed Red Chipper Posts: 1,699 ✭✭✭✭
    NYCRy wrote: »
    I mean he literally explained his reasoning for all of this. It was a pretty long, detailed post. He's saying its more beneficial to have someone occasionally outflop you in a low SPR pot(and miss a limp/RR opportunity) than to open a big hand, get outflopped since its 4-way, and potentially lose a much bigger pot OOP. He's also only slightly opening up his 3bet range so will not be "finding many folds."

    "occasionally" ?
    Also if you open and get 3 callers, you're missing your goal (usually sizing issue). A big reason - but not the only one - to bet preflop is to isolate.
    NYCRy wrote: »
    I also think its important to realize that creative thinking like this is a good thing and should not at all be frowned upon just because its different from the current groupthink. If your immediate reaction is to poo poo because that's not what the book says, reconsider. If its a bad strategy so what? Its better to learn by doing than to just reject it because everyone else says so
    "poo poo" ? Bravo...

    I don't mind thinking outside the box. I just don't see how it's more EV to max out our fold equity when US players (general population trend) are already usually playing weak tight. You want to build a pot, you want them to call and pay (too much) for their hand, not even more easily fold their 2nd best. I could see it more fit to the bill here and there, where opening 8x UTG still gets 3-5callers.
    Also limping creates a high(er) SPR. Which favors the IP player(s).... aka everybody but Hero (and ev. the blinds).
    eugeniusjr wrote: »
    Red, this allows utg to play a wider range than 11-15%, which is one of the biggest benefits as I see it.
    Why not opening wider?
    Why not having an opening range and a limping range ?
    How to react with the bottom of your range when someone bet ? How to react with the belly of your range when someone bet and another one raise ?
  • eugeniusjreugeniusjr Red Chipper Posts: 401 ✭✭✭
    Opening wider utg inflates the pot size with a range that can't support it. Limping utg invests less when we xf flop, and when we fold to raises. Also, limping allows us to call raises in some scenarios where we could not call a 3bet. If opening does not achieve the purpose of isolation preflop then we face the same MW issues you noted above.

    There are issues with bifurcating an opening range based on hand strength of which I am sure you are aware. However these issues are somewhat ameliorated facing low stakes competition, but only somewhat.
  • LeChiffreLeChiffre NetherlandsRed Chipper Posts: 288 ✭✭✭
    Very interesting. We're often told as beginning players to never do X, always do Y because of Z. Fun to read a *detailed* argumentation for breaking the mold. Very valuable to me personally.
  • eugeniusjreugeniusjr Red Chipper Posts: 401 ✭✭✭
    6max is different than full ring.
  • LeChiffreLeChiffre NetherlandsRed Chipper Posts: 288 ✭✭✭
    jfarrow13 wrote: »
    Give me a leading strategy before I get on board.

    would love to hear this too
  • persuadeopersuadeo Red Chipper, Table Captain Posts: 3,617 ✭✭✭✭✭
    The bimonthly limping thread is always fun.

    As for the leading strategy, why is that the question for Moishe? Why does one lead in the first place?
  • LeChiffreLeChiffre NetherlandsRed Chipper Posts: 288 ✭✭✭
    Personally I just want to know because I'm interested, not as a factor for judging this limping strategy
  • Steve MSteve M Red Chipper Posts: 21 ✭✭
    @moishetreats Are you 3-betting your entire range after limping?
  • persuadeopersuadeo Red Chipper, Table Captain Posts: 3,617 ✭✭✭✭✭
    My point is that if you can deduce why and when to lead normally, you'll be able to figure this one out.
  • jfarrow13jfarrow13 Red Chipper Posts: 1,193 ✭✭✭✭
    @Red already addressed my main concerns with employing such a “strategy”, and this seems to be falling into fancy play territory. Against certain opponents and tables, sure, I can see it being more EV than a normal opening strategy and range. But I just see a lot of dicey spots entering as you expand your range, suddenly find yourself in MW pots, OOP, with a large SPR. If you feel this is the best way to play the game, #blessed. Me personally, I might occasionally throw it in, your gonna have to give me a break down of what hands you fold to a raise, you 3-bet and flat. It just seems unnecessarily complicated. Sure, maybe you limp and 3-bet some weak hands, and pick up some dead money. What about hands which you limp call with? A hand that you might seem too weak to open but wanna now “see a flop with” like K10s. You flat, hit a king, check he bets you call. Turn no improvement and he fires again? You just give him credit for a better king? What about if you 3-bet steak and they flat IP? Expanded range, limping, and 3 betting a lot leaves a lot or weak hands. You might just punt off a stack quite easily, making all those pick ups mute. My point is a think bluff catching OOP isn’t very EV. So if you keep your range strong, you turn strong cards into potential bluff catchers, or, you let it get limped through, and play a mediocre hand anddd what? Try to flop bingo? I get that equity pushing might be seen as a dirty thing around here like 9-5s but it’s stable and it works. I could see throwing it in when applicable, but it wouldn’t be my standard when I sit down at a new table.
  • moishetreatsmoishetreats Red Chipper Posts: 1,819 ✭✭✭✭
    Thank you everyone SO much. First of all, to those of you who even took the time to read through my post. Next, to those of you took the time and effort to comment. And, then, to those of who have come back for more. :)

    Seriously -- thank you!!

    On to the comments....

    1) A lot of you have mentioned isolation, and rightfully so. Perhaps I need to explore more the idea of open-bombing from early position. Since my standard raise of 5x-7x often gets multiple callers from EP, that's what generated this experiment. Either I waaaay tighten up my range (which I think is the worst option), or I start opening to 10x from UTG (but, really, how long would that last without going back to multiway callers?), or I experiment with limping. Once I decided on the third (note the word "experimenting!!"), I tinkered for a long while until finally settling on the conditions listed in my original post. There are a lot of conditions to be met; I have simply found in my local game that many of those are often the norm.

    2) @Red: you suggest that this strategy might be +EV but not optimal considering the opportunity to double- and triple-barrel. My experience has been that double- and triple-barreling rarely gets the necessary fold equity. Why? Because Vs are in position, making calling lighter more profitable, and because there are almost always multiple players in the pot. Heads-up, barreling is more attractive. Multi-way, I am forced to play my equity more. So, either I end up playing much more passively or I need to figure out how now to go multiway. Again, from my first point above, I haven't yet solved that conundrum. I am VERY open to suggestions of how to get hands that I raise from EP to go heads-up!!!

    3) To those of you defending me for putting something out there that is out of the box, I appreciate your support. I really do!! For what's it worth, I didn't feel that anyone was dismissive of my experiment simply because it is unorthodox. I do appreciate both the support and the challenging critiques!

    4) Another note: I almost never limp in pre-flop. I am of the belief that any pre-flop limping is a massive deviation. So, bifurcating my range in EP is, for my play, a disaster.

    5) @jfarrow13: Do you mean a leading strategy post-flop? If so, then I consider that a different topic, more akin to a post-flop leading strategy from the blinds. In a nutshell, remember that I'm only limping in EP with hands that I would normally raise. That already ranges me. And then I have my own 3bet range depending both on hand strength, number of players, stack sizes, and opponents' tendencies. All of those factors are what go into my leading strategy post-flop.

    6) @Steve M: Hells, no, I am not 3betting my entire range! I'm not that good/suicidal :). As a default, hands that I would normally 3bet from the blinds are what I would normally 3bet here, too. It's a solid starting point. The factors in number 5 then apply for consideration.

    7) @jfarrow13 again: Thanks for the feedback. I actually don't think that we disagree too much. This is a deviation. Again, I'll refer to all the conditions that I listed at the beginning. As a default, I do NOT jump to this plan. But, my local games often meet all the conditions that I listed, often enough, in fact, that all these conditions tend to be met more often than not. At a new casino or at a table mostly with players that I don't know -- yeah, I wouldn't jump to doing this. But, I find it invaluable to have in my toolbox given how frequently I find myself opening from EP and getting multiple callers. For me, this is the counter-strategy to that highly undesirable situation. Like any counter-strategy, though, it is usually less effective as the default strategy.


    I think that I hit all the comments and critiques. If I missed something and/or if you feel like I missed your point, then please follow up.

    Thank you all again SO much for taking the time to share your thoughts with me!!
  • kageykagey Red Chipper, KINGOFTAGS Posts: 2,231 ✭✭✭✭✭
    There is some interesting reasoning as to why we should limp our entire range from EP. But they still leave me wondering about our bottom line:

    1.) by limping, we encourage more players to limp behind us ("pot odds") which can cause us to go more multiway than if we had raised.

    2.) by going multiway against more players (because we didn't raise), we are sharing equity with hands would have folded their equity had we raised. So, we're essentially diluting our h/c equity by limping with strong hands.

    3.) by limping and going multiway - we are STILL going to have to navigate through the labyrinth of flops and hands that may or may not hit this flop. So, we're still going to have to do some good hand-reading... only now we're having to play cautiously and "play perfect" for a smaller pot.

    4.) by limping, we're setting our opponents up for generous RIO scenarios. They are limping with weak hands. We are limping strong. We give them great RIO implications when flops come neutral or disadvantage. (they are not being "punished" for playing weak/bad hands. we are not causing them to make a mistake by limping behind us... in fact, we're probably making their limp MORE correct!)

    ultimately, it seems to me that we will win small pots with big hands and lose big pots with small hands.

    All this seems to be based on - IMO - entitlement that our premiums deserve to win. Or the notion that we should squeeze out every ounce of equity from all our hands. Which I think actually side tracks the real discussion about the "why" of our actions.

    This does not mean that there is no place for limping... only that taking it to extremes seems like a long-term losing proposition. We can't control the variance, so we seem to be seeking smaller pots to minimize the volatility.


    Let's look at two examples that seem to take this strategy in opposite directions:

    on one side - you've got Phil Hellmuth, who in cash games loves to limp and trap. He occasionally raises or bets - but he's waiting in the weeds for ideal flops/turns/etc. The result is a predictable style in which on most televised cash game poker shows, he loses his stack.

    on the other hand - you've got Tom Dwan - who raises his trash as well as his premiums. He's constantly putting pressure on his opponents and winning pots by getting better hands to fold. He also gets paid off when he's got the nuts because the table is aware that he may be bluffing. In most televised cash games, he wins big.

    Player A gives up equity and the ability to push people off marginal hands pre - while Player B uses every tool in his tool box to win pots pre and post. Player B "tells a story" and is often convincing even when he's got nothing. Player A is an equity pusher.

    Obviously - we're talking about huge differences in the player pool (skills), stack sizes and stakes... but in these two players we can make a general assessment that player A is a much less profitable player than player B.

    If Player A is all about realizing his equity and keeping pots small to do so... while Player B is all about "capitalization" and denying equity to this opponents... histroy & statistics will tell us that Player B will have an edge (as it's hard to make a hand) - and ultimately be more profitable.
    And from my perspective, I think we should be seeking more profit not less.

    which is why I don't advocate for limping entire pre-established range from EP.
  • RedRed Red Chipper Posts: 1,699 ✭✭✭✭
    2) @Red: you suggest that this strategy might be +EV but not optimal considering the opportunity to double- and triple-barrel. My experience has been that double- and triple-barreling rarely gets the necessary fold equity. Why? Because Vs are in position, making calling lighter more profitable, and because there are almost always multiple players in the pot. Heads-up, barreling is more attractive. Multi-way, I am forced to play my equity more. So, either I end up playing much more passively or I need to figure out how now to go multiway. Again, from my first point above, I haven't yet solved that conundrum. I am VERY open to suggestions of how to get hands that I raise from EP to go heads-up!!!
    One of the reason to bet preflop is isolation. And yes it's harder to get isolation from EP since there are so many player still to act. What we lose in position (bc caller are IP, because caller can be callerS), we compensate with a range advantage.
    Now if you always get MW when you open preflop, you are making the same mistake as was making during my last poker trip (and unfortunately realized it 45mn before the very end) : you're sizing too small preflop. If you don't hit the pain threshold, you gonna have caller... callers... too many callers. By sizing bigger you then see a flop HU or 3-way, and it's possible / way easier to maneuver.

    Postlfop then can call lightly, but this is good, because often our range advantage can support light call: we are extracting value. On a KXX board, I want V to call and play for stacks, because they are calling with trashy to good KX, when I'm playing with good to best KX and AA. Advantage of range advantage.
    Here again, if they float too lightly, punish them and go bigger. Put them in difficult spot by hitting the pain threshold, manipulating the action or/and the sizing, manipulate the SPR and force them to play for stacks when they don't want it.
    Also with a good flop texture analysis and observation of Villain tendencies, you should be able to make +EV moves : folding and losing the min when behind, betting and winning the max when ahead.

    Such stories are really hard when limping and many people limped behind.
    First one (of several) will connect too strongly with the board - sometimes better than you. Getting 3-5 (or more) V to fold postflop is almost an illusion.
    Second limping and not having had the opportunity to raise makes aggressive move is too fancy because of what you can or cannot represent.
    Third limp/raising will create so much fold that yeah, you make pick up uncontested pot pretty often (everybody see the "Doyle Brunson" AA), but you will have hard time to build a pot and play profitably for stacks with AA - because what hand can limp/call pre and still give 2-3 streets post without cracking such hands ?

    **
    Bottom line, I think it's a great exercise to improve (y)our game, like some other "always overbet turn" or "only raise pre when entering a pot". But I don't see it as more EV than opening your whole EP range, or having an opening and a limp/raise range.
  • RedRed Red Chipper Posts: 1,699 ✭✭✭✭
    kagey wrote: »
    If Player A is all about realizing his equity and keeping pots small to do so... while Player B is all about "capitalization" and denying equity to this opponents... histroy & statistics will tell us that Player B will have an edge (as it's hard to make a hand) - and ultimately be more profitable.
    And from my perspective, I think we should be seeking more profit not less.
    .
    Fun fact: your 2 examples show also they extreme difference between a pro tourney player fit and look to survive even in extreme condition* and a smart maniacal cash player who want to increase the winnings (and potentially losses) to the max.


    * I got this impression after reading "Short Stack Strategies" with Phill Hellmuth and Liv Boeree, in " Excelling at No-Limit Holdem" by Jonathan Little.
  • jfarrow13jfarrow13 Red Chipper Posts: 1,193 ✭✭✭✭
    @moishetreats MW pots with indifference to sizing sounds like one of those good problems to have, if you change your mindset. I buy-in for $200 for that reason at my $1/3 games, because I come out the gate swinging, and because it lower SPR's, so I can keep opponents weak ranges intact and still get stacks in against their more marginal hands. Yes, it devalues hands like SC and PP, but I find that often I'm up over the 100 BB mark in no time, and I generally only play those hands IP anyways, so it doesn't really change my strategy much. Besides, I have a graveyard full of posts with deep stack errors. In fact, I've put my pride aside, and I just stand up if I reach $500 and change tables now. No shame to my game bruh, I know that I'm really good at 75-150 BB's, and weaker around 200.
  • moishetreatsmoishetreats Red Chipper Posts: 1,819 ✭✭✭✭
    kagey wrote: »
    All this seems to be based on - IMO - entitlement that our premiums deserve to win. Or the notion that we should squeeze out every ounce of equity from all our hands. Which I think actually side tracks the real discussion about the "why" of our actions.

    Definitely not about entitlement. But, the bolded part is absolutely the case.

    Interesting. Maybe my counter-strategy is sensible but I need to re-visit the premise on which I came up with it in the first place...
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