Mission 2: Stop Limping Pre-flop

Doug HullDoug Hull RCP Coach Posts: 1,684 -
edited February 2017 in General Concepts
by Doug Hull on Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:18 pm

Poker missions for continuous improvement:

In my book: Poker Plays You Can Use
http://redchippoker.com/store/poker-pla ... use-ebook/

I outlined some concrete steps you could take at the table to become a better player. Each week, I will post the next of these missions. Please try it out and let us know how it affects your game.

[Mission intro from book, new mission is at bottom]
If you are already playing a bigger game, you might want to drop to lower stakes. It should make the bigger bluffs, thin value bets and floats easier to stomach. Doing these missions is going to increase your variance.

You are going to have some big winning sessions, but you are also going to bluff your entire stack into a big hand at some point. Sometimes it will happen four times in a session! This will rattle your confidence and make you want to go back to ABC poker. Do not do that. Take stock of what happened, learn from it, and carry on.

These missions are designed to help you avoid making the same flaws that the Villians in this book made, and, at the same time, teach you to exploit those flaws in other players. Each mission is presented as a small, focused exercise so you can work on one new skill at a time.
Remember that there is some element of luck and chance in poker. If a mission does not work out successfully for you the first time you try it, do not assume that it is a poor strategy. These are strategies that are winning moves over time; they are not winning moves every time. Each time you try a new mission, use the strategy for at least one or two entire sessions so that some of the inevitable failures will be hidden by the equally inevitable wins. These missions were designed to do one at a time and in order. Try one mission for a session or two before starting the next mission. Stick with certain mission for a while if you like. This is not a race. Some missions are stepping stones towards better play; once you have learned the lesson, then you no longer need to follow the overly strict rules of the mission. Other missions are designed to get you ready to accomplish the next mission so that the change is not too abrupt. Some missions are rules that will stay in your game indefinitely.

In this mission you have one unbreakable rule:

I will never, under any circumstance, limp pre-flop.

This rule is simple, but iron clad. It does not matter if every player at the table has limped in before you and you are on the Button with JTs. Raise or fold.
Limping leads to limp-calling and being out of position. When you are out of position you are at a great disadvantage to your opponents. Limp-folding is like lighting your money on fire. Flip through the book and see how many hands were advantageous to us because the Villain had limp-called pre-flop.

If you want to see the flop, you need to raise by at least the standard raise for the table plus one big blind per limper in the pot already. My default standard raise is five big blinds plus one big blind per limper. If it has already been raised, you should consider a three-bet but may flat call the raise. If you get three-bet, you may flat call. While it is not forbidden, avoid calling any raise or three-bet out of position. If limped to in the Big Blind, you may check.
This mission will likely see you tightening up pre-flop since it costs you more to get into the flop. What else will it do? It is going to thin the field quite often. It is going to make it substantially more likely that you are in position post-flop. It will also give you the initiative going into many more flops than usual.
Co-founder Red Chip Poker,
Author Poker Plays You Can Use
Author Poker Workbook for Math Geeks
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Comments

  • ScottValScottVal Red Chipper Posts: 108
    I stopped limping about a month ago, and it has improved my game. At the casino where I regularly play, I have a reputation for being an extremely tight player. I used to limp frequently, like many other players. Now that I don't limp, I believe I am being perceived as a tougher player.
  • Christian SotoChristian Soto RCP Coach Posts: 2,193 ✭✭✭✭
    This may be in contrary to what Ed and Doug preech.

    But Limping has some merits.

    If they are 4 Limpers in front and you have pocket 33's in MP, should you open? Especially if you are likely to go Multi-Way?

    Overall I can agree limping, especially open limping can be bad, but I think integrating a good limp strategy is OK.

    Also, if you are playing in a game where you can limp a stronger range than their Opens. But if you open you are likely to get 3bet, and forced to fold, then limping again becomes OK.

    You also force your opponents to define a limp range. On the other hand, if you don't have a limp range, you remove some work from your opponents, given you don't have a limp range at all.

    You can still balance a limp range by limp/raising hands such as Q10cc, AK, 910dd etc.

    Curious on some thoughts.

    *I'm not saying this is my go to strategy, but having it in you bag of weapons is good.
  • ChipTraderChipTrader Red Chipper Posts: 178
    This may be in contrary to what Ed and Doug preech.

    But Limping has some merits.

    If they are 4 Limpers in front and you have pocket 33's in MP, should you open? Especially if you are likely to go Multi-Way?

    Overall I can agree limping, especially open limping can be bad, but I think integrating a good limp strategy is OK.

    Also, if you are playing in a game where you can limp a stronger range than their Opens. But if you open you are likely to get 3bet, and forced to fold, then limping again becomes OK.

    You also force your opponents to define a limp range. On the other hand, if you don't have a limp range, you remove some work from your opponents, given you don't have a limp range at all.

    You can still balance a limp range by limp/raising hands such as Q10cc, AK, 910dd etc.

    Curious on some thoughts.

    *I'm not saying this is my go to strategy, but having it in you bag of weapons is good.

    I see your arguments but I disagree with 1 exception your opponents are adapting to your game then and ONLY then should you balance it out but that being said that will only be 3% of the time at any game lower then 5/10 so RAISE IT up :)
  • Doug HullDoug Hull RCP Coach Posts: 1,684 -
    Is there a place for limping?

    Open limping? No.
    Over limping? Sometimes.

    I think the vast majority of low limit live players would vastly improve their game with this "one weird trick" (Poker pro's hate him!) :)

    Is their a more nuanced strategy than "Never limp?" Yes. I say learn the rules before you break them. Most players benefit so wildly from this mission that the small theoretical edge they are giving up by not limping in certain spots is minimal in comparison. Once you have fully embrace the no limping you will see certain spots where you know you should limp. You will have clear and articulable reasons why you should limp. Go ahead, and limp.

    Those reason usually are found when you are on the button with a speculative hand in a massively multi-way pot. You are in the SB in a similar situation.
    Co-founder Red Chip Poker,
    Author Poker Plays You Can Use
    Author Poker Workbook for Math Geeks
  • Christian SotoChristian Soto RCP Coach Posts: 2,193 ✭✭✭✭
  • YorkshireBoy9YorkshireBoy9 Red Chipper Posts: 69
    I play tournaments, so open limping big pocket pairs at certain stack sizes (15-30bb's) from early position at low stakes, with aggs behind has a lot of merit. Deep stacked, I can see why it's not optimal.
  • JCWJCW Red Chipper Posts: 93 ✭✭
    I agree with the NOT limping in general. I rarely limp. But I have found a few exceptions where I will often limp in with hands.

    If someone has a history of UTG limp/raise move with their big hands, and I am in late position... I will sometimes limp. I will also widen my range pre-flop.

    On the button, I will often limp with the worst of my straight hands (96o, 63o) type of hands. Not a JTs!

    If a player reliably pre-loads his bets, I can use this to c/Raise or to Limp/Call.

    UTG/UTG=+1 in very aggressive games & I have a terrible losing image. I am not talking about normal aggressive games, but the hyper-aggressive games where there is a lot of 3b/4b & multiple whales/deep stacks. These are RARE games.
  • Doug HullDoug Hull RCP Coach Posts: 1,684 -
    JCW wrote:
    If someone has a history of UTG limp/raise move with their big hands, and I am in late position... I will sometimes limp. I will also widen my range pre-flop.

    If they show a proclivity to the transparent limp-raise with AA type move, but never do it as a bluff (often the case) I would argue that raising them is still the right thing to do, in fact it might be more right. A raise means they are ahead of you, you fold. A limp, call gains you value against a range that no longer has premium hands in it. Why are you limping against them again? :)
    JCW wrote:
    On the button, I will often limp with the worst of my straight hands (96o, 63o) type of hands. Not a JTs!
    Limping with weak holding in the worst possible position is a bad idea. It is hard to get paid OOP in general, add on to that your inferior holdings... Just fold.
    JCW wrote:
    If a player reliably pre-loads his bets, I can use this to c/Raise or to Limp/Call.

    There might be some merit to Limp Raising if you know they are going to bet, but knowing that you are going to go into Limp Call mode gives you more reason to fold since you "know" you will be raised.

    In general, I think you should really look at your reasons for limping, I dob't think any of them are compelling. Try this mission for three sessions. See if 100% not limping helps. See if you miss limping at all. So far my no-limping challenge has had excellent reviews. Please, do yourself a favor and try it.
    Co-founder Red Chip Poker,
    Author Poker Plays You Can Use
    Author Poker Workbook for Math Geeks
  • the_tpupthe_tpup Red Chipper Posts: 75 ✭✭
    I got this same advice from one of the videos on this site about playing 2/5.

    I will not lie, its been a challenge to keep it on point. I have found myself limping still at least 1-2 times over the course of a 3-4 hour session.

    So I'm still working on it, but I will admit freely that the more I get used to it, the more I am seeing benefits as the people at my casino are playing so many trash hands, that the aggression leads to a lot of those "auto-profit" spots - yes I've had a couple of beats, but have not regretted the spots I were in either.

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