Limping In - Player Limps - Limpers

by Jesse Knight


Limping in Poker
Limp - To enter a pot for the minimum bet rather than raising or completing the bet.

When a player first enters the pot, they will typically have the option to either “limp in” for a minimum amount, or alternatively, to raise the pot. How a player chooses to enter a pot can reveal a lot about both the player and the quality of their holding. It standard procedure for a player with a strong hand to enter the pot raising. This serves two purposes. First, it forces an opponent to put more money into the pot with the worst of it. Second, it protects the dominance of the raising hand by thinning the field and eliminating pot odds for the limpers and blinds. Since it is generally correct to enter the pot for a raise with a strong holding, when one doesn’t raise and instead limps in, it is generally regarded as a sign of weakness.

Players know that their opponents will regard them as weak the majority of time when they limp in. Because of this, players will sometimes try to disguise their hand by limping in when they are strong or by raising the pot when they are weak. If you are going to limp in with a strong hand, it is most advantageous to do so from early position. This way, you have the best chance to trap one of your opponents if they should decide to raise behind you. If you are going to raise with a weak hand, it is best to do so from late position. This allows you to both take the lead and buy the button, while assuming the least possible risk from players behind you.

Making these efforts to disguise your hand may or may not bear fruit. Good players are very aware that strong hands will limp from early position and that weak hands will raise from late position. They will include an assessment of your position when they are putting you on a hand, and you should do the same when putting them on a hand. Late position raises are standard operating procedure for most players when they are going to play a hand, whether they are weak or strong. This can make it difficult to differentiate between weak and strong hands played in late position, based solely on preflop action. When your opponent raises from late position, you will get better information about whether your opponent has raised with a weak or a strong hand from their after the flop action. First position limping tends to be a bigger tell than late position raising, because many strong players do not ever limp in from early position with mediocre holdings. If a strong player limps in from early position, it is almost certainly a trap. This is especially true in no limit games where traps are much more powerful tools than they are in limit games. When good players see other good players limp in from first position, alarm bells go off right away.

Of course, many players who do not play as solidly limp in all the time, from any position. Obviously, you would not give a limp in from this type of player the same kind of respect as you would give to a limp in from a strong player. You can see that correctly evaluating your opponents’ level of play, tendencies, and capabilities can have a big impact on the accuracy of your reads. This is why, when a good player sits down in a poker game, their first job is to watch the actions of their opponents, in an effort to get a general idea about how each one plays. This is called “getting a line on” your opponents. A big part of this is deciding what range of actions your opponents are capable of, and what they are absolutely not capable of. If your evaluations of your opponents are accurate, you will frequently be able to avoid paying them off, and will be able to crush them with value bets.

When players limp into a flop game or a draw game, it is generally for the amount of the big blind. In limit games, this is typically the full amount of the structured small bet. If a player wants to raise, they can do so by wagering two small bets. In no limit games, the betting is unstructured, and so there is no small bet and big bet. In these games, a player limps in by calling the amount of the big blind and raises by wagering at least double that amount. Limping in a stud game works a little differently, because there are no blinds. In a stud game, the low card is required to bring it in. This is a forced bet that the low card must make. This player will have the option to limp in by bringing it in for the minimum amount (a fraction of the small bet), or may instead complete the bet to the full amount of the small bet. A completion on Third Street in a stud game is not considered a raise, even though it is an increase in the wager.

Usage: I Raised Four Limpers, Limped In, Limped UTG, Limping With Aces

Previous Poker Term: Leak
Next Poker Term: Live One


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