Is Limping a Good or Bad Poker Strategy?
When you learn how to play Texas Hold Em, it isn’t a one-off event. It entails the adoption of multiple strategies. Some, like bluffing, are an accepted norm. Others, like limping, are not so much good tactics as they are bad habits that should be eliminated from your gameplay. Here’s the ‘need to know’ about limping.
A Lesson on How to Play Texas Hold Em… or Not!
What is limping? It is a passive way of playing poker – and a strategy that has few friends. It involves calling a small bet rather than raising or folding. It is the kind of gameplay favored by novices who want to see as many flops as they can… and as cheaply as possible.
The problem with limping is it achieves none of the key objectives of poker. All that it does is alert the other players to something that is best kept under wraps. That would naturally be the fact that what you’re holding in your hand is marginal… if that!
What are your primary objectives when you ante up and play poker, either live or at online platforms like Juicy Stakes Poker? The first is to build the pot. When you consistently call small bets, your contributions to the winnings are nominal at best.
What is more, limping by one player can set the trend around the table. Your opponents may well still elect to raise. That said, the bets may not be as high as they would have been had you not matched the small or big blind. The end result is a noticeably smaller pot, which means less money to win.
Secondly, as we’ve alluded to, limping signals a weak hand. Those of you who know how to play Texas Hold Em are undoubtedly aware that weak hands do not intimidate opponents. Therefore, folding is simply not on the radar. In reality, a weak hand has the opposite effect.
An opponent with a weak hand spurs a more aggressive approach from the other players. Rather than thinning the field, you are encouraging players to hang around and take their chances. By practicing the limping strategy, you are placing yourself in a vulnerable position.
Seasoned players who know how to play Texas Hold Em understand one thing – that a contested pot is never easy to win. When you limp rather than roar onto play, you are basically relinquishing any advantage you may have had… weak holdings or not!
Best Practice – Raise to Determine the Opponents’ Holdings
Your third objective is to try and determine your opponents’ hole cards. The easiest way to get the information you desire is to raise – and raise aggressively. When a player responds by raising and raising big, he or she most likely has a strong hand… or is bluffing. If they call or fold, it is a sure sign their holdings aren’t that great.
Calling a small bet has the opposite effect. As mentioned, it can unintentionally disclose vital information about your hand to your opponents. The result will most likely have a negative impact on your overall win rate.
When all is said and done, limping is considered poor gameplay. It is a losing strategy ninety-nine percent of the time. Besides preventing you from achieving the objectives outlined above, it doesn’t give you the opportunity to take control of the pot.
Why do players, particularly inexperienced players, choose to bet the absolute minimum required to stay in a hand? Their logic, albeit flawed, goes something like this. When they limp in, their opponents naturally make a smaller raise. That way, they can call and see the flop without depleting their stack.
The problem is even small call bets mount up. The losses chasing favorable flops can’t easily be made up, even if you happen to flop the nuts. In essence, limping has only one outcome. It virtually guarantees you’ll lose over the long term – and that is not how to play Texas Hold Em, not by a long shot!
Want to Win Playing Poker Online?
If you are serious about playing poker to win, here’s a heads-up. The first generic rule of how to play Texas Hold Em is summed up in two words – play aggressively.
When you raise hard, you get a clear idea of what the other players are holding. Plus, the probability of your opponent's folding is high. When that happens, you get to take the pot uncontested.
When you limp, you are certain to get bullied into submission by the other players. It is a move that basically tells everyone else around the table that:
- your holdings are weak, and
- you want to enter the pot at the cheapest possible value.
That can open up a world of trouble. You will struggle to get a positional advantage and there is a better-than-average chance of ending up being bluffed. When you do change your strategy, your opponents will also know that something is up.
Let’s call it what it is… In poker, limping is a mug’s move. It will lower your win percentage, deplete your chip stack and raise the ire of all the other players at the table. It is simply not done. That is unless you are a professional poker player. The pros have mastered the finer points of how to play Texas Hold Em and win.
On occasion, the poker pros may well include limping as a strategy, but they’ve developed a sixth sense with as to when to use it... This could be in an instance where they want to play a pot against a ‘down and out’ player. Other than that, limping, particularly open-limping, is not recommended.
Now that you know how to play Texas Hold Em with the raise as the cornerstone of your strategy, it is time to ante up. At Juicy Stakes Poker, we offer regular ring games and tournaments featuring Texas Hold Em and Omaha. Sign up at Juicy Stakes – you can use your login details to access our online casino too!