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How to Play vs Limpers in Poker Tournaments (5-Minute Guide)

If you play large-field and/or low stakes tournaments, you know that there are plenty of players with unorthodox strategies.

One common trait amongst weak players, in particular, is that they open-limp.

Targeting these weak players and taking their chips will help you build bigger stacks and make more deep runs.

How to react to limpers, specifically in the early, deep stack stages of a tournament, will be the focus of today’s article.

Let’s dive in.

Note: All of this information comes from Darren Elias and Nick Petrangelo’s tournament master class, Road to Victory.

This course is currently on sale for it’s lowest price ever.

What separates Darren’s training is that in addition to focusing on optimal strategies, he also gives practical advice to help you beat the weaker players you face in tournaments (like players that open-limp).

Browse all tournament courses on sale now!

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4 Questions to Ask When Facing A Limp

Not every situation involving an open-limper is the same.

For that reason, Darren offers us 4 questions to ask ourselves each time we face a limp:

(Remember, this advice is for the early stages of a tournament when playing deep-stacked.)

Question #1: Who is limping and what are their tendencies?

The first question to ask when facing a limp is about the tendencies of the limper. Here are Darren’s thoughts on this question:

Are they a loose recreational player who’s limping 60%, limp-folding sometimes, and calling too often postflop?

Is it a tight recreational player who’s limping only 10% and has a lot of limp-raises in their range?

Is it something in between?

We’re going to be elastic in our ranges in the sense of who are we attacking, especially if it’s a single limper.

If against a loose recreational player, we can comfortably raise more hands, knowing that there are plenty of trashy hands in their range. But if it’s a tight player who only plays strong hands and might be looking to re-raise, we need to exercise more caution.

Question #2: What is our position?

The second crucial factor to consider is our position.

Let’s say we face a limp from the player Under-the-Gun (UTG). Obviously, we are going to be able to raise a much wider range from the Cutoff and Button than we would from earlier positions like UTG+1 or UTG+2.

This is because there are simply fewer players behind us to worry about, which leads me to the next question.

Question #3: Who is behind us, and what are their tendencies?

When facing limps, we have to be wary of the players that are left to act behind us. These are the questions Darren says we have to consider here:

Do we have players in this hand playing between us and the button who are going to make our lives difficult, whether that be preflop or postflop?

And how does that effect our range and how wide can we play against this limp?

Knowing these tendencies is extremely important when deciding how wide we should raise. If the players behind are passive and unlikely to 3-bet us, we can raise a wider range than if there are loose aggressive players behind who will often play back at us.

Question #4: What hand do we have?

The final question to ask is what is our hand and what kind of hands play well vs open-limpers. Darren says:

While we can (sometimes) attack limps with any two cards, and it’s been done, we do want to set ourselves up to be able to win big pots postflop and win at showdown sometimes.

So we do have to factor in our actual holdings in these situations as well.

Darren has a bunch of “exploitative preflop charts” in his Road to Victory course, including several for playing against limpers.

Here is how Darren plays from Middle Position when facing a weak player’s limp from Early Position at 150bb deep (taken from his Road to Victory course):

raise over limp range

Salmon color = Raise, Grey = Fold

This range consists of premium hands, pocket pairs, suited Aces, suited Broadways, some offsuit Broadways, some suited Kings, and some suited gappers / suited connectors.

This is a somewhat loose range, but that’s by design. As a seasoned pro who has won millions of dollars in tournaments, Darren knows how to outmaneuver his opponents postflop and thus tries to play as many hands as possible against weak players.

But we can always play a bit tighter if we’re facing a limp from a tight player or have aggressive players behind, or if you’re simply not comfortable playing a range this loose.

Sizing Raises vs Limpers

In addition to the questions listed above, the size of our raise is also important to consider when facing a limp.

Here are Darren’s general guidelines for sizing (taken from his Road to Victory course):

vs Limp Sizing Tips

With these baselines in mind, Darren explains the goal of using these large sizings:

The general idea is we’re trying to find the maximum amount they will call. Plus, having a little fold equity preflop is not a bad thing either. If they want to limp-fold to our 5x, that’s okay.

But finding the maximum amount they will call is optimal in my eyes because we’re working under the assumption that we are entering into a profitable situation on the flop, playing in position against this limper after isolating. Therefore, we would like as much money in the pot as possible.

A quick note for playing out-of-position: There will be situations where we face 1+ limps and are in the blinds. When this happens, we should raise a more value-heavy range and add 2-3bb to our raise size.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to beat the worst players at the table for even more money is a sure-fire way to maximize your win-rate at the early stages of tournaments.

And by building stacks early on, you’ll be in better position to advance to later tournament stages like the bubble, in the money, and final table.

Want more free value from Darren’s advanced tournament course? Check out 4 Factors To Consider On The Money Bubble of a Poker Tournament.

That’s all for this one! Good luck at the tables.

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