On Limping: Advice to Low Limit Players

ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 895 ✭✭✭
edited February 2017 in General Concepts
I wanted to entitle this thread Advice to Low Skilled Players Such as Myself. But so few of us consider ourselves low-skilled, that there would be too many who would reject this thread because of the title. .

In my life I have given a lot of advice to young chess players. I liked being a coach. In poker I look at myself at times as my own coach. So what advice would I give to myself about limping?

I will divide my advice into categorical observations, situational observations, and situational rules of thumb. Also in poker you can never say never. There are times you probably should limp but those times are very, very rare in low-stakes games, when your skill level is not far above others in your game. So sure, if you have 75s it is hard just not to limp in from late position, with multiple limpers in front, especially where there are quite of few short stacks. In deep stacked games I would just want raise big.

Categorical Observations

1. Texas Hold-em cash games are not structured around antes. You don't have to pay a price to see your hole cards.
2. The price of the Big Blind is not an ante to see the Flop.

Situational Observations

3. Most players in low stakes NLHE games use the price of the Big Blind as a cheap way to see the Flop. At the extreme, it has developed into a social norm that the Big Blind is simply a way to ante-up for the flop. (This is especially true in certain home games, where I am no longer welcome.)
4. To follow this social norm is to create a new structure for NLHE, in effect a different game with different kinds of strategies post-flop.

Situational Advice On When Not to Limp
5. In general, don't limp into games simply to obey the social norm, unless one of the main reason you are playing in the game is to be friendly.
6. Don't limp into a game if you have to fork your range, between a limping range and a betting range. This is exploitable and creates weakness.
7. Realize that when others limp into games, most are creating a limping range, a betting range, and a limp calling range at the upper end of their limping range. This is exploitable.
8. Don't limp into games unless you have the skills to plan your hands around your balanced limping range.
9. Realize that it is harder to plan your hands when you limp into pots, because you will be thrown into more awkward situations and many more multi-player situations that are harder to defend.
10. Understand that your skill level must exceed other players to a greater extent in limped multiplayer pots because you will often be surprised by who has what and when. Surprises make it harder to plan a hand.
11. There is often an unexpected pot multiplier in limped pots and the game because very costly, very quickly. So it becomes harder to estimate SPR on the Flop because you don't know who is going to fold and who might go all in. This again makes it harder to play your hand.
12. Do not limp into games where there is a high rake. It makes it harder to beat the rake when only a few people limp and no-one builds the pot.
13. Don't limp if your only plan is fit-or-fold.

It is nothing to be ashamed of to say to yourself that you don't yet have the skill to limp into pots. If you are having a hard time finding a plan for your hands then don't limp until you are able to plan your your usual betting hands. If you become good at planning your hands, and you move up in stakes, then you can experiment with limping and with getting yourself in difficult situations.

Of course, my advice is only for cash games. Just looking at the structure of tournament games, with rising blinds and low SPRs there are a lot more reasons for limping.

But by all means, if it is part of your strategy to limp, and you are good at it, and you gain chips by doing it, then by all means limp-in. Trap other players who fork their ranges. Even play like my Mr. 80%, if you are good enough to play that way. I'm not.


  • AustinAustin Red Chipper Posts: 5,483 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Limp in to play more pots against the fish, but do not get carried away. You want to give yourself implied odds, but with not such weak holdings like 98o or 23s.

    If the table doesn't have much of a pain threshold if you ISO say to $20 in a $1/$2 game with JTo, but every pot is still going 4 -5 way there is no point in building a pot to have a 2 SPR with JTo. You are going to be put in very difficult spots post flop on J78 board, when they are limping in with T9s, 77, 88, J8s, J7s, KJ, AJ, QJ, etc and they are calling you down with top pair. Now JT doesn't look so good in a bloated pot. You really want to be over limping here quite often from HJ or later.

    If the table is aggro limping can be a disaster. You want to play more pots against the fish, but you don't want to be limp calling raises with JTo, so now you have to really tighten up your limping range to like T9s+, 22-99, Maybe throw in a few back raises with AKo, KK+.

    You still want to play limped pots where you have range advantage vs the other limpers. Sucks getting flush over flush or lower end of the straight. I was some what lucky early in my session where I called a small raise with 87s and squeezed all in vs a bet and a call on AsKs5c board. They both called one having Ax and other 6s4s. Flush hit the turn. Think it was 3s... But when villain #1 checked his Ax and Villain #2 bet... I thought there were no flushes I beat at this point. My small range advantage came into play here for a nice triple up.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 895 ✭✭✭
    edited June 2016
    Austin wrote: »
    Limp in to play more pots against the fish, but do not get carried away. You want to give yourself implied odds, but with not such weak holdings like 98o or 23s.

    This may be good advice for many but it is not for me. It takes a greater skill level than many players have to determine whether someone is a fish or not. When I sit down at a table I usually assume that the other players have skill levels equal to or better than mine. I will make that assumption for a long time before I change it.

    Don't limp in unless you are pretty sure of your skill edge. Don't limp in to play more pots. That is not a good reason to limp in. That would be my advice to younger players.

    In games with higher skill levels and at higher stakes you might want to lower your usual bet size so that you can get a better price to see the flop. But limping in to simply get a better price to see the flop means that you will develop a limping range, and a limp calling range. Unless you are careful this will make your range readable by a half-decent fool like myself.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 895 ✭✭✭
    edited June 2016
    @Austin As best I could I worked out Euroguy's ranges from beginning to end. I was probably wrong, but there is no way not to be wrong about these things, it is really a matter of the margin of our error.

    My problem with your story of this hand is that you have no margin of error.

    Given the odds making a fold on the river would have been silly. If Hero simply called on the Flop then a Turn fold would have been possible and maybe a River fold. But that is not what happen. The hero fold could have happened on the Flop after the reraise, only if Hero had a precise reading on the betting tells of Euroguy.

    Quite frankly I think your story is results oriented.

    But unfortunately, my story might be slightly results oriented also, simply because I know I would have made this call.

    "Any measurement that you make without the knowledge of its uncertainty is meaningless."

    I have some knowledge of the uncertainty of my measurements and I would ask you to try to build into your own estimates that knowledge of uncertainty.
  • EazzyEazzy Red Chipper Posts: 951 ✭✭✭✭
    I think there is defiantly a place for limping. I do agree that if I was teaching a new player..telling him to always raise preflop is a good starting point. Limping can very easily be misused. The are all limping and getting paid off when they hit I can start limping logic is a disaster..

    Ed Miller in an article for Card Player, suggested if you can't iso a fishy player with a reasonable bet then limping, and playing passive till you can beat top pair is often a good line. He takes J7s from the HJ....against a fit or fold limper, he raises, against a calling station he calls, other wise he folds.

    In his hand ranges articles on his old sight, he argued, that SPR considerations for hands like KQo often meant limping would be better from later seats to make play easier....

    His later writings ... trying to make poker simpler to learn he argues against this type of approach preferring to have a static preflop always raise line and deal later with player types....though he does say that there are exceptions...

    I would also like to say that worrying about forking your range, or balance in any but the most extreme forms (huge raise with AA KK but smaller pre floop raises with AK) in low stake poker can be pretty much ignored...its exploitable but they never exploit.

    I also think as you gain control over opponents, limping in late seat, against certain opponents can be the more profitable line. (personally I bleve that getting controle is the key to learning poker even for newish poker players).....I would argue that in many games limping the btn....and then if checked to on the flop and turn....betting the turn and river with ATC can be an auto profit...

    Many players have such commitment issues or bet sizing tells that limping behind can becomes the more profitable range, simply because they play there hand so face up. its easy profit..

    One of the advantages in multi way pots of limping behind is that you get to know who you will play with...If you raise you may iso the fish....get a tight reg calling...go multi way with bad spr....but if you limp, you know who bet out on the flop and who called. After all in terms of hand reading ease No body checks to the limper but lots of players check to the raiser....

    For my own rules its always raise or fold first or 2nd in and only limp from co and btn (and rarely from HJ)....but I generally have a reason for limping....
  • MonadMonad Red Chipper Posts: 1,004 ✭✭✭✭
    Limping has so many RIO aspects in multiway pots outside hitting a (hidden) set. Im trying to avoid them more and more, though I'm still tempted often. I think the "multiway potential" of stuff like 87s, J8s, QTo, etc. is overrated and people hardly talk about the times they get over flushed, outkicked trips, etc. in these bingo family pots. I mean, am I really happy on a 885r board w/ 87s in a 6 way, usually super deep spot? Usually not if people want to play a big pot.

    Without position I think one flirts with disaster by overlimping, but it's all relative and is a passable strategy if not overused in good position CO/OTB

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