Don’t Be a Weak Limper in NLHE

There are many reasons why you shouldn’t open limp in no-limit Texas hold’em cash games. Limping is often seen as weak whether you are playing six max games or full ring games. While some good players do open limp, I think they are very much in the minority as playing out of position to an aggressor is not a winning strategy. In the modern game then more and more players are becoming aggressive. Also, the games have become tighter and more aggressive than a few years ago.

If we rewind ten years to how poker games used to be played then there were many multi-way pots and so open limping was fine. However one of the key ways in which good players extract profits from cash games is to isolate the position. If you limp with A-Js and a good player raises in position with a hand like 10s-9s then the player that raised has the edge. The player with the A-J although having a stronger hand does not have the initiative and they certainly don’t have a position on their side. So when you miss the flop out of position to an aggressor then you are in a very difficult position.

If you raise with the A-J then you at least have the initiative even if the player with the suited connector calls you. However, in the first instance you don’t have the initiative or position but if you raise then you at least have the initiative which is something. This is why open limping can be a very weak strategy. It is even weaker if you play fit or fold meaning that you simply give up if you do not connect with the board in some way.

Your opponent will simply dominate you if you play like this. Limping with hands like A-Js is fine if there are multiple limpers behind you as you could win a huge pot with your nut flush hand which could also possibly make the nut straight. However modern poker isn’t played that way and multi-way pots are a rarity. There are simply too many players multi-tabling and playing really tight ranges but also playing aggressively. You only have to go onto any online poker site and look at the percentage of players that see the flop to witness how tight and aggressive the games are.


The bottom line is that open limping in today’s tight-aggressive cash games is a poor strategy. Even if raising from early position signals what type of hand you hold, you can still balance your range by opening with hands other than premium pairs and big Broadway cards. Open limping only works in loose-passive games but in tight-aggressive games then you will simply be attacked by players that have position over you.

Open limping doesn’t allow you to have position or the initiative which are both crucial to success in any poker game. By open raising then you at least take the initiative. It is also easier to fold a hand like A-J when you are 3/bet because your opponent’s 3/betting range is going to be far tighter than their open raising range.


Carl Sampson is an online poker player and poker ambassador for 888poker

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