dougtalesIndulge me in a thought experiment. What if a mischievous poker genie granted you your “One Time” with a condition and you accepted.

The condition? You must limp into every pot if possible. This is a handicap you now have to live with.

How would you compensate for this, what kinds of moves would need to implement to help stem the bleeding from this limping habit? What should your opponents do to inflict the most pain from this habit?


Limper’s Life

Even the most unobservant of opponents is going to realize that you are limping into every pot. What should they do? They should raise you. Your genie-inspired leak is going to have you facing the option of splashing a big blind into every pot, then folding or calling a raise from whoever decides to punish you.

The limp/re-raise would need to be a big weapon in your arsenal. You would have to identify the villains that are raising you with a ‘normal raise range’ and those that are going too wide in their exuberance for attacking you. You are going to have to treat these two very differently.

What kinds of players are you going to appreciate? The ones that limp behind you and let you see a flop for free are the best. Yes, sometimes you would be looking for that raise for a re-raise, but most of the time you are going to hope for a flop at no additional price. In fact, getting to that free flop would negate much of the genie’s disadvantage. Those that limp behind hoping to hit a big hand against you will be disappointed because you rarely have anything to pay them off with anyways.

With the curse of the eternal limp, your hand reading post-flop would need to be exceptional. You would have to be able to wring every bit of value out of your hands. You would have to not get trapped by the inevitable kicker problems, you would have to take advantage of the wildly unlikely strong hands that you are able to show up with.

Crushing on Crutches

I used to be strictly against limping. And as a first-level piece of advice, I still am. But Soto has convinced me that limping has a place. I actually think it is an advanced maneuver. If you have the skills to do all those things I mention above, and are using a sensible range instead of the genie range, I think it adds something to your game.

When you see people limping in your game, do you see them break out the additional skills I mentioned above, or are they just trying to see a cheap flop with a wide range? My guess is the latter. The genie may not be compelling them to limp 100% of the time, but he could easily be making them limp 30%-60% of the time. The exploits mentioned above still get these “half-genie” players.

Are you taking advantage of this player by raising him with an appropriate range? Or are you deciding to limp behind him hoping to hit a hand on them and get paid? Which one does the genie-inspired limper want you to do?

Finally think of some other common issues the genie could inflict. “Must bet and raise with top pair top kicker” on the flop. On some flops this is not a big problem, but what flops would it be an issue. If you had to compensate for this curse, what would you do? Do people in your game make those adjustments? Do you?


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  • Piers

    Nice article Doug, thanks. It’s amazing how many live low stakes recreational players take the genie-inspired limp into every pot route. But like you say, it’s usually 30-60% of hands rather than 100% – oh the discipline!

    As to whether we should limp live or not, I’m generally against it, but with exceptions. The game I think has to be particularly passive for limping to be OK with good speculative hands in EP, I think it’s more of a late position exception when you are over-limping with Axs, small pairs and decent SCs such as QTs, 87s, J9s if deep enough. I’ve heard good live coaches talk about limping Axs in EP to keep dominated flush draws in – and that seems to have merit too.

    Interested in your thoughts on how the game affects all this. Typical loose passive tables seem to be optimal for strategic limping in my experience, whereas a pretty aggressive table of weekend warriors or a mix of good-aggro and bad-aggro players – well, I’d imagine doing almost no limping at all. Except in very specific situations.

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