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  • September 28, 2020

Online Poker Dictionary: Limp

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To bet the absolute minimum needed to stay in a hand. Often used when the little blind simply calls the big blind instead of raising.
The minimum bet is the amount of the big blind. So, if the blinds are $1/$2, a player has the option to limp in for $2. If all players have limped pre-flop the big blind has the option to check and see a flop without investing additional money. An over-limp is when you limp after other player(s) have also limped into the pot.
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This term likely comes from the idea that a person walking with a limp is injured and is exhibiting weakness. Likewise, someone who only bets the minimum in a poker hand appears to have a weak or marginal hand and is therefore said to be “limping.”
When To Limp And When Not To Limp
Like many strategic moves, effective limping is very situation-dependent. You need a good understanding of the overall table dynamic, your position, and the players who will act after you. The stakes you are playing at can also have a big impact on your decision of whether limping serves any good purpose.
If you are limping to slow-play a big hand like pocket Aces… much will depend on your having pre-established a good table image. If you have consistently raised only good hands, and your opponents have been able to see that, then you can occasionally limp a big premium pair and potentially confuse your opponents into playing the wrong strategy while building and eventually gifting you a big pot.
You can also think about exploiting your tight table image on occasion by limp-re-raising as a bluff. For that to succeed, you need to be in an earlier position, with player(s) left to act after you who will always take a steal-bite at passively played pots. When they bet, and it comes back to you, you can play off the integrity of your table image and make a big re-raise to scare them off the pot. If you avoid over-abusing this move it can be a very effective and profitable one. It works best of all under the gun and in the small blind — as the strong move carries extra weight from these traditionally weak and vulnerable positions.
When your table is playing very loose and passively, there is no point in limping with a big pre-flop hand. Instead you should raise as normally advised and clear out a lot of your opposition. The more players see a flop with you the less valuable your pocket pair becomes — unless you hit the flop sweetly. You want to decrease the chances of any opponent out-flopping you.
Let’s say you have pocket Aces under-the-gun and you have two or three opponents loading the back seats who have been playing a very loose-aggressive style. They take a lot of pre-flop pot shots at any passive play in an attempt to steal the blinds and limped money but run shy of your action when you open the betting.
Here then is a good spot to risk limping, as there is a good chance of one of them putting a bid in behind you. You can then re-raise. And if you are playing a medium stack, you may even be able to get all your chips in with this re-raise.
Your big risk is that the play will go passively through to the flop with many callers taking a look at third street — and if that happens and the flop misses you and looks dangerous, you will need to be ready to let your Aces go. Those rockets can quickly fizzle out in a crowded playing field.
The balancing act with a hand like pocket Aces is getting enough competition to get full value from your big hand, but not so much that it drives the value of your hand down by making it less likely you will win the pot.
Limping with a big premium pair is also very much a No-Limit Hold’em move rather than a Limit Hold’em move. In Limit Hold’em, you should always be betting your big hands. This weeds out the weaker marginal hands and helps define the composition of any remaining opponents’ hands while building the pot.
Limp-raising needn’t, and shouldn’t, be confined to just big pocket Aces, Kings or Queens. You can limp-raise with other hands too (besides air-bluffs), like AK, which if they hit the flop can do a lot of good work for you.
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