How to win money from limpers

Limpers are one of your best sources of income in lower stakes poker. That’s because of the combination of limping being a bad move and that it is almost always exclusively done by very weak players.

It’s called limping when you call the big blind instead of raising. At normal stack depths it is a rookie move to open limp (with SB as the possible exception). Open limp means opening the pot with a call rather than a raise – that is calling the big blind. Over-limping (limping after someone else) can sometimes be a viable strategy. The reason it’s a rookie move is that it’s a weak and passive play. If you instead open with a raise you can win the pot in more ways:

  • All other players fold.
  • You can continuation bet on flop, turn and river and since you opened with a raise and since your range is fairly strong you have a better opportunity to bluff.

Often in poker you want to put your opponent on a tough decision. Limping does not achieve that. When you limp you will often be raised by another player and need to call more money than an original raise would have cost you (or fold or raise). When making this second call you have capped your range making it harder to bluff. So you will often be out of position with limited bluffing opportunities. Limping and reraising is sometimes used by beginners with a very strong hand. That is definitely not a good strategy to maximize winnings with a pair of aces.

So how do we then maximize our winnings from these weak players? The most common approach is to raise the limper with a fairly wide range of hands.

This is the baseline recommended range from Upswing poker:

That’s a fairly tight range and depending on what you know about the limper and other players and your position you might go wider. Some factors to consider are:

  • What’s your position? Are you likely to be in position after the flop?
  • What range does the limper have?
  • How often will the limper fold preflop?
  • How often will the limper reraise you?
  • Are they playing fit or fold or calling station after flop?
  • How likely is a 3-bet from any of the other players?

Recommended raise size is 3bb + 1 bb per limper for online games and an extra 1bb when in the blinds. For live play it’s recommended to add another 1 bb or possibly more. In general you want to isolate one limper or make them all fold. That’s why this is often referred to as an isolation raise (or iso-raise). If you need to increase your raise size to achieve the goal you should also tighten up your range.

Some other tips:

  • A limper that reraise your raise often has a very strong range.
  • When a limper has a shorter stack, hands with implied odds (like pocket pairs and smaller suited cards) lose in value. You can add a few higher cards and remove some of the lower pocket pairs and smaller suited connectors from your range. 
  • Usually bluff one and done on flop. If a limper is calling, it is often challenging (and expensive) to get them off their hand. 
  • A raise from a limper on the flop usually represents a strong hand (since limpers in general are passive players).