Limping gets a bad wrap. Limping just isn’t cool anymore. The act of limping isn’t as sexy as Three-Betting and running elaborate multi-street bluffs. Therefore, through the years, limping lost its swagger. Well, I’m here to debunk the myth of never limping.
Implementing a no limp strategy has been said to make you tougher to play against. I disagree. By applying a no limp strategy in your game, you remove a range your opponent must account for and now must only worry about an opening range and how to combat it. In other words, you just removed a weapon from your arsenal.
Why does everyone suggest not limping than? Why must I go against the grain? The people preaching a no limp strategy are looking at it through the lens of passive play. They view the action as a passive action, and therefore, presume that the postflop action will follow suit. What if I told you there is something called an “aggressive limp”, and it may solve some real issues players face in today’s game?
What is an aggressive limp, and did I just make it up to confuse you?
Well, I did not make it up, and I’m surely not trying to confuse you. An aggressive limp means that you limp prepared and expecting an action; possibly an aggressive action from your opponent.
When does an aggressive limp come into play? I’ll tell you when. Imagine playing versus a competent opponent on your direct left. Not only is this player competent, he/she also Three-Bets you relentlessly. The typical response your poker coach will tell you is to tighten your opening range so you can combat these Three-Bets more easily. They will continue by saying that after your opponent faces a couple Four-Bets, this will shut him down or you may felt him if he makes an error.
I know all about these preflop wars, but everyone who gives you this advice is missing a big point. In the meantime, while you are trying to pick up hands to get into this preflop war, you’ve just been shut down! You are now irrelevant to the game. You are no longer stealing preflop, you are no longer isolating opponents and fighting because your main focus is now your direct left. In fact, you can’t wait for a seat to open up so you can move and breathe again.
How about if you limped versus this monster opponent? He will isolate you. That’s predictable. However, his isolating range will be wider than his Three-Bet range. Our job now is limp a range stronger than his isolating range, and attack on board that favor us. This means we are not going to take the passive actions that give limping a bad wrap. We are not going to check-call down to the river. We will be mixing up lines frequently. We will Lead Flop when we crush in terms of range advantage, we will Check-Call/Lead to avoid bluff catching on certain boards. We will throw in some Check-Raises and become really annoying. This is a real defense instead sitting there trying to pick up something to Four-Bet with. I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t pick up enough hands to sit there and be a stone.
You only get dealt QQ+/AK 2.6% of the time
I know what you’re thinking though. You don’t play against aggressive players like this, so this limping stuff doesn’t apply and you should continue opening versus limping. I’m glad you don’t find yourself in that spot often. However, I’ve played in some of the wildest east coast games ever assembled. In these games, any open gets called four to five way to the Flop. Sounds familiar right? These are the games you guys are familiar with. In these games, you have two options:
First Option: This is the option your coach will tell you, “Open for a bigger size to maximize value and thin the field.” That’s fine and sound advice in general. However, what happens when your opponents pain threshold is too high? We can’t continue to open 15-20 times the big blind because this happens to be their pain threshold. It’s too expensive.
Second Option: Limp and mix it up with them. When their pain threshold is too high, we have no choice but to limp and take them Post-Flop. We’ll need to have confidence in our post flop play. Again, we are not going to take our passive pre-flop play post-flop. We will have an attackers mentality. We won’t be the type of person who gives limping bad wrap and check-call down. We can also limp/raise certain hands such as AK/AQ etc.
This is the most complex game in the world. In fact, live poker, becomes infinitely more complex given the deeper stack depth involved in the games. I urge you to not simplify this game, but to continue to think outside the box. When players approach me and say the game is close to being solved, I tell them to do something different and keep it unsolved. This game is alive. That means that it changes, adapts, and recreates itself continuously. Therefore, you should change, adapt, and recreate your game at a faster pace . Moreover, never make it easy for your opponents. Don’t be the sheep who follows, but the wolf who attacks from all angles.
With that said, run good, and play great. Peace!