What is ‘Limp’?
The first two bets that go into the pot of a poker Hold’em game are forced bets. As a result, they’re called blinds because the players don’t even have to see their cards, they are betting regardless. On the first round of betting, players can fold, call, or raise, however checking is not allowed. The first player to enter the pot by either calling or raising is said to open.
When someone enters the pot by calling the big blind, they are ‘limping’ into the hand. If a player limps into a hand, in most cases they are trying to see the flop, and play accordingly. Typically, the limp is a play characterized by beginning poker players. Experienced poker players consider this to be a weak-passive move, because limping is an attempt to put up the least stake to see the flop, which indicates a wide range of possible holdings.
Like any other bet in Poker, players can open limp from an early, middle or late position. Each of these actions can say something about the players hand. For example, straightforward players would not limp or open limp from early position with a monster hand. They might limp with a middle pair, but that’s assuming that everyone is a straightforward player.
Over-limping is when the hand is already opened, and another player in the game decides to limp as well, therefore they are overlimping. This is just another cheap way of entering the pot, especially if the over-limper is holding a hand that needs to win a big pot. Limping into a pot is never viewed as a sign of strength.
‘Limp’ In More Detail
From Early Position: With plenty of players betting after you, it is possible for one of them to raise, which forces you to fold prospect hands. Either that or stake more chips to see the flop.
Limping Encourages Limping: Players entering the pot cheaply, or for nothing, encourages the remaining players to copy the move.
Table Dynamics Matter: The position of players at the table, and what type of player they are, determines the difference between the two scenarios above. If there are aggressive players behind you, limping from early position is a bad idea. If they are passive, it is reasonable to try and build a pot by limping in.
Catching Part of the Flop: For beginning poker players, this is a hole that has more to do with hand selection than bet type. Players with weak starting hands are more likely to limp with them than raise.
When poker players first start out in poker, it is common for them to adopt limping strategies, and from an outside perspective, it seems harmless enough, but once you dig into the nuts and bolts of pre-flop limping, it is easy to see the effects reach further than anticipated.
Changing one’s pre-flop action will effectively determine the outcome of postflop situations, and the outcome of one postflop situation determine the outcome of all the others.
To that end, it is vital to keep a close eye on all aspects of the game, and understanding the interaction of pre-flop and post-flop decisions is key to maintaining an edge. If limping pre-flop is part of your strategy by default, you may want to consider the possibility of eliminating it.