What is a ‘Limper’
It is common to find a number of limpers in the online micro-limit games, and also in the $1/$2 live games, but realistically, this dynamic can occur at any stake. The chances are just higher to see weaker, more passive opponents in the games with the smallest stakes. Consistent limpers are characteristically very weak players, so if you raise your premiums, and then limp along with them with your speculative hands and bet big when you hit hard, most of them won’t have the sense to notice until they’re rebuying.
You are likely to find a lot of limpers in online poker tournaments. Some limpers may know about starting hands, and just don’t care, while other limpers may be new poker players, and just want to play. Experienced players are aware that limping is rarely a good move, so you can see why it can difficult to work out the best response to players that are always limping-in for different reasons.
Early Game ‘Limper’
The player who calls every time pre-flop, then limps even from late position, the player who has no clue about hand selection, or the advantages of taking the lead in a hand, is the kind of player you want to play against often, especially when you combine other habits they have, like making oversized raises when they are strong.
Often what happens is one limper will elicit a string of calls behind them. Some people will call with their connectors, suited aces, and so on. The more limps there are in the pot, the better the odds, causing players with even weaker holdings to drop in extra cash.
You can win a lot more chips by raising the bet, which typically causes players after you to fold their speculative hands. Then you can play the pot with the weak limper one-on-one. By raising the blinds X3 or X4, you will likely get a shot at the weak player’s chips.
If you can predict their moves, you have an extra advantage of knowing when they do hit the flop, and get out of the way. Because they miss most of the time you can easily take control post-flop and often win a big pot.
Risks of Isolating a ‘Limper’
The risk of isolating a weak player is that a player who is still to act in the hand will figure out what you are doing, and then re-raises the hand. You will probably lose your bets if this happens, being in the weak position. Isolating from late position, with only a couple of players still to act, reduces the probability you will get squeezed.
Another risk is that the weak player is incapable of folding, because of having a little piece of the flop. Too inexperienced to notice your obvious strength, you can isolate the weak player with the best of the hands you would otherwise have called or folded pre-flop. Hands with a little showdown value or card removal works well in these situations as a defense against the weak player calling bets on a thin draw, for example a gutshot straight draw.
Mid To Late Game ‘Limper’
When a player limps relentlessly later on in a poker tournament, the first thing you need to consider is stack sizes. A re-raise can mathematically commit you to calling off the rest of your stack.
For example, you have 15X the big blind, a limper comes in, and you decide to isolate by raising to 3X the blind with a good, but not fantastic hand. The limper now pushes his remaining 14 blind stack into the pot. Accounting for the blinds and antes, there are now 20 blinds in the pot, and it cost you 12 more in a showdown. These are good enough odds to call with any hand you used for isolation, even though you would have preferred not to commit those chips in this situation.
Of course, you can use the fact that other players will isolate limpers, who are generally bad players, to your advantage. If you see another player doing this, squeeze them both out of the pot with a 4-bet. This is an ideal way to give your stack a boost, try it near the bubble and watch all but the strongest hands fold.
Out Of The Blue ‘Limper’
Unlike players who limp into pots all the time, a different type of player you want to watch for will normally raise if they play a hand, then will suddenly limp in when they have aces or kings, looking to either re-raise with them pre-flop, or slowplay their hand for several streets.
When they do raise you know they do not have a strong hand, depending on their calling tendencies, this is information you can use to re-raise them off of their weaker hands. This information you can use for hand-reading after the flop as well.
If you have a big enough stack size, call with a wide range of speculative hands when a premium hand limper comes in. These players are rarely good enough to fold their aces after the flop, even when they know their hand is in trouble.
You will spot plenty of players who do this if keep your eyes open. These misguided souls believe that poker is about the appearance of looking smarter than your opponents to onlookers, instead of making money.