If you’re new to Texas Hold’em and have been reading through some poker tips for beginners, you’ve probably heard it time and time again that aggression is essential in poker. Also that aggressive players are the ones to win more often. In general, this is true, and you usually want to stay on the offensive side of things. Taking control of the pots and putting your opponents to the test.
However, now and then, a situation arises before the flop where being aggressive would be counter intuitive. In certain spots, you should be happy to limp along with everyone else, see the flop, and only proceed to pile on the pressure if and when you make your hand. On the other hand, limping first is rarely a good option.
Limping in Multi-way Pots with Small to Medium Pocket Pairs
When you’re dealt a hand like pocket 2’s through pocket 8’s, you have an excellent hand but not the one that’s particularly strong if you get a lot of action before the flop. These are the type of hands where you want to ideally see a cheap flop, hit your set, and then proceed to make your limp-happy opponents pay with their top par, mediocre kicker or even two pair.
For example, you’re seated on the dealer button with pocket 6’s and three players limp in front of you. Your best play here is to limp along. By raising, you’re essentially turning your hand into a bluff and could potentially use the opportunity to see the flop. By over-limping, you won’t be reopening the action and could potentially stack someone who decided to get cute with a big pocket pair from an early position.
Suited Connectors and Limping
Suited connectors are another group of hands where limping along can often be the best play. However, unlike small pocket pairs, these hands can be tricky to play. Because you might end up with a pretty strong hand in terms of general poker hand rankings but still being the second best.
So, unlike small pocket pairs, where you pretty much always want to see the flop as cheaply as possible, you need to be more picky with suited connectors. You should probably only limp along in a late position (dealer, cutoff) and not every time. In multi-way pots, you should also stay away from the lowest of suited connectors (like 45 or 56) and gravitate towards higher ones, like 89 and 910.
Limping Strong Hands to Trap
Limping with the strongest part of your range, i.e., big pocket pairs and hands like AK suited, can be a part of your game-plan. However, you need to be very selective here. You can only do it if you also have some other hands in your limping range from early positions. Otherwise, your hand becomes too transparent and observant players at the table will know how to use this against you.
An excellent time to limp your big hands from an early position is when you have a maniac at the table who doesn’t care about getting trapped and makes big raises almost every hand. With this kind of dynamics, you can be pretty sure there will be some action to follow, giving you a chance to spring the trap and make a big re-raise when the action comes back to you.
Another situation where limping strong can be a good idea is in tournaments where you have an awkward stack of around 15-20 big blinds.
Other players at the table might fail to notice your stack size or fail to understand that you’re very likely to be limping strong here and raise regardless. If they pick up some callers in between, that’s even better for you, as there will be more chips in the middle when the action gets back to you and you move all in.
Check out the other articles in this poker strategy series here:
– Part 1 of our Poker Strategy Tip Series: Poker Tip #1 | Playing Suited Connectors
– Part 2 of our Poker Strategy Tip Series: Poker Tip #2 | Check Raising Strategy
– Part 3 of our Poker Strategy Tip Series: Poker Tip #3 | Slow Playing Do’s and Don’ts
– Part 4 of our Poker Strategy Tip Series: Poker Tip #4 | Blockers and How to Use Them
– Part 6 of our Poker Strategy Tip Series: Poker Tip #6 | Squeeze Play – Top Things to Consider
– Part 7 of our Poker Strategy Tip Series: Poker Tip #7 | Adjusting Versus Different Opponents