How to Crush Limpers in 2024

Run It Once
20 May 2024
Holdem Strategy
20 May 2024

When you play small or medium stakes poker cash games or tournaments, it's very likely that some of your opponents are going to limp in, just calling the big blind with all sorts of junk. These players limp because they have a hand that they think is okay but not quite good enough to raise. So, you might ask, what can I do about this?

Well, if your opponents are going to raise all of their good hands and limp with all their medium-strength hands, that makes their limping range very weak. Depending on exactly what they think is okay, some people will limp with hands like King-10 suited, which is pretty good, whereas other players will limp with hands like 9-4 suited or 7-5 offsuit. 

Either way, you can crush these players by applying aggression with a range of hands that does well against their limping and calling range.

And on top of that, if they're going to fold way too often after they limp, you can absolutely run them over because their limp essentially says: "Steal this pot from me".

#1: Define what type of limper they are

There are primarily two types of limpers:

1. Straightforward limpers: These are players who limp with decent hands that they think are not quite good enough to raise. This is just your stereotypical limper, and that's what we're going to be discussing how to exploit today;
2. Tricky limpers: They will limp with some amount of premium hands. These players may limp with some marginal hands, but they'll also limp with hands like Aces, Kings, and Ace-Kings, looking to limp and then reraise if someone raises. Against these players, you have to be way more cautious raising, especially with hands that really want to see the flop, like suited Aces, pairs, suited connectors, etc.

#2: Aggressively Raise Limpers

We're going to be discussing how to combat a typical straightforward limper. This is roughly what most straightforward limpers will do, some iteration of this:

  • Raising: Pocket sevens and better, Ace-ten suited and better, Ace-jack offsuit and better, King-jack suited and better, King-queen offsuit, and Queen-jack suited;
  • Limping: Pocket sixes and lower, other suited Aces, some suited high cards, some suited connectors and gappers, and some offsuit high card hands. This is pretty normal for a lot of people who limp a decent amount of the time.

Recognize that some players will limp with far more hands. They’ll limp with hands like King-four suited, Ten-six suited, Seven-four suited, Nine-eight offsuit, Ace-eight-six offsuit, etc. If they're going to be limping with really junky ranges, then that's going to make the advice here even more applicable. 

As your opponent limps with just junk, you can raise with decent hands and absolutely crush them.

However, I do not recommend raising with a very wide range of any two cards because you still have to worry about other players remaining in the pot. A lot of the time, the limpers are limping with hands they don't plan to fold to a raise, which means you are going to have to go to the flop, and you don't want to be playing terrible hands after the flop.

So, what I would generally recommend is considering what the limper's range looks like for their medium-strength hands and then raise with all those hands plus all the better hands. Perhaps you can get even a little bit wider if you feel inclined because the bottom portion of your raising range, while it is going to be behind their limping and calling range, it's going to be fine because your range overall contains Aces, Kings, Queens, Jacks, Tens, Ace-King, Ace-Queen, etc., and those hands are going to crush the limpers.

When a limpers’ range is weak, raise it agressively — especially from late position.

Now, again, you may want to be a little bit tighter or a little bit looser depending on your opponent's post-flop strategy, but something like this will be fine.

Also, you may or may not opt to have a limp behind range as your opponent gets more tricky and you think they're going to limp reraise you sometimes. You really don't want to raise a hand like pocket fives and then get limp-reraised. That would actually be quite bad because you don't want to limp, have the limper limp or limp-reraise, and then you make it.

Let's say four and a half big blinds, and then the limper makes it 18 big blinds. Now I have to fold pocket fives. It would have been perfectly happy seeing the flop and trying to make a set. That would be really bad. So, as your opponent's going to re-raise you more, the hands with the best implied odds, mainly small pairs and some suited connectors and some suited aces, these hands really, really, really want to see the flop.

So, as you can get limp-re-raised more, raise those hands less often. But until you think you're going to be getting limp re-raised some portion of the time, I would just raise everything you plan to play because that's going to result in the pot being heads up most of the time with you having a range advantage and a nut advantage over the limper, which is a really good spot to be in.

#3: Use Proper Raise Sizes

Let's talk about raise sizing. How much should you make it over the limper? Well, you're going to want to make it three times the last bet plus any additional money in the pot. In most scenarios, that is a pot-size raise. So, versus one limper, three times the last bet, which was the opponent's limp, plus the small blind and the big blind. So, 3 times 1 is 3, plus 5 plus 1 is 4.5 big blinds. 

So, if you're playing 2/5 No-Limit Hold'em and there's one limper, you're going to want to make it something like $20 or $25. I usually err a little bit bigger in cash games and a little bit smaller in tournaments. So, if we were playing a tournament with that same blind, I'd make it $20, and in a cash game, I'd probably make it $25. But it's not that big of a deal.

What you don't want to do is make it $15 over the limper because then the limper should call you with every hand they limped with, assuming they're limping with reasonable hands. 

And you have to realize that when you're playing poker, you make money when your opponents make mistakes, not when they play well. If your opponent plays well, you're not extracting any value. 

But if they limp with a hand and then they call a decently large raise, say five big blinds or so, and then they fold, right there, they're not getting great pot odds. So, you're already extracting value. But whenever you make it small, you're not extracting much value at all, and that's bad for you.

Against five limpers, we have three times the last bet, which would be the limper plus the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth limper, plus the small blind and the big blind. So, 3 times 1 is three, plus 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.5. Now, this may sound large to you, but say you are playing 1/2 No Limit and you have five limpers, you're going to want to make it something like $16 or $18 over that initial limp. That seems very huge to a lot of people. 

You have to realize that by the time it gets back to the first, second, third, fourth, fifth limper or whatever, you don't want them to be getting amazing pot odds because, again, they should call. Also, now you are trying to win more money from the pot, and as you raise larger, that's going to result in you winning the pot far more often compared to if you use a smaller raise.

Definitely worth noting, if you are out of position, meaning you're in the blinds, small blind or big blind, you're going to want to make it even a little bit more, probably one or two blinds more. So, if I was out of position against five limpers, I'd make it something like 10 big blinds in this scenario.

#4: Fold Often When They Re-Raise You

Let's talk about when the limper re-raises. So, they limp, you raise, they re-raise. What should you do? Well, you should fold, get out of the way. 

Most limp re-raisers will only re-raise with exactly Aces and Kings, and maybe Ace-King, and maybe Queens.

So, how does any hand range besides Aces, Kings, Queens, Jacks, etc. do against that range? Well, it does very poorly.

What a lot of people do very wrong is they'll raise a hand like Ace-Jack suited over the limper and then get limp re-raised and then think, "Well, I guess I have to call because Ace-Jack's pretty good". But it's not. It's in horrible shape against Aces, Kings, Queens, and Ace-King.

Now, say it does go limp for one big blind, you make it four, and they make it seven, a minimum re-raise. Now you have to put in three to try to win $15.5. At that point, you can't really go around folding a whole lot because you're getting good pot odds most of the time, though what's going to happen is they're going to limp, you're going to make it four or five, then they're going to make it like 15, and then you're not getting great pot odds, so you can ditch pretty much everything.

Now, if you are playing very, very deep stacked, you can consider calling with the hands that have the best implied odds. That's mainly going to be small and medium pairs, suited aces, and suited connectors, because then you have the potential to win a huge amount of money from your opponent's strong hand when you flop a very, very good hand yourself. 

So, if you have very good implied odds, sticking around is fine. But what you do not want to do is you do not want to call limp re-raises with the offsuit hands. That's really bad.

Suited Kings and the suited gappers go way down in value. So, definitely keep that in mind when you do get limp re-raised. If somebody's limp raising a ton, obviously that changes. 

Always adjust to what your opponents are doing incorrectly.

Some people limp, raise, with all sorts of nonsense. Once, I played with someone who limped a ton and re-raised a ton, and then I had to think. Pocket sevens: they limped, I raised, sevens got back to them, they just ripped it all in for like 30 big blinds. I snap called it off. They had 65 suited, and they said, "How in the world could you call? Doesn't my play look strong?" Like, no, you've done it five times in the last two hours. It looks weak.

#5: Use a Strong Postflop Strategy

Alright, let's talk about postflop very briefly. So, this is when someone limps, you raise, and they call. Against only one caller, it's usually going to be best to continuation bet somewhat small on the flop due to your big range advantage. 

Notice you have the big range advantage because you have all the overpairs and all the big cards in your range, whereas your opponent's going to have none of those in their range, right? So, when you have a big range advantage, you get to bet very frequently.

So, you're going to want to be betting very frequently, and especially as the pot gets large, your bet sizes can often be smaller in relation to the pot because any bet you make is going to start to nudge money into the pot, to the point that you'll be able to get all-in by the river if you feel inclined. That's usually going to be a good play on almost all boards. 

The only boards you may want to be cautious on are the middle card boards.

If your opponent's going to be limping with a lot of medium hands, maybe stuff like 98, 8776 offsuit, stuff like that, then if the board does come, let's say 764, you should probably check that a decent amount of time, especially with your hands that don't really want to get raised. Like, say you have Ace King or Ace Queen. That's a hand that you can check back with on those flops because if you check it down, you probably win. But if you bet and get called or bet and get raised, it's pretty rough. 

Besides those low connected flops though, you're going to want to bet frequently and small against multiple callers. This will be when it goes limp, limp, limp, you raise, and then two or three or four or five of them call, it’s usually going to be best to play somewhat straightforwardly where you're betting with your best made hands, something like top pair, decent kicker and better, and then your logical draws. 

And your logical draws are going to be hands like flush draws, straight draws, maybe backdoor flush draws with backdoor straight draws and an overcard, stuff like that. You're going to want to be betting with really just hands that have pretty good equity. You don't want to get too crazy.

What a lot of people do very wrong is they'll raise over limper with, let's say, A10 offsuit. Then the flop will come, say they raise over three limpers with A10 offsuit, the flop comes Jack 63 (pretty uncoordinated board). They'll check to the raiser and the raiser will continuation bet in the spot not recognizing that one of those three players is going to have a Jack or something, some portion of the time, and they're just not going to fold.

When you see a very multiway flop, it's important to recognize that someone's going to have something, and if it's not you, it's probably one of your opponents. So don't get too carried away.

So yeah, that's it for today. Recognize that many players in the small stakes games limp far too wide with a bunch of junk. They just want to see the flop and try to make a good hand. And the way you crush them is by making the pot bigger when you have position and a range advantage against them. 

Crush their weak ranges, and you'll find that these pots can consistently flow your direction. Thank you very much and good luck!

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