How To Abuse Preflop Limpers In Poker

(Watch at 720p and enjoy the transcript below)

Today’s question come from Ron K and its part 2 in a 3 part question. Ron says “I think a good idea for a video is ‘adjusting ranges’ depending on the players around you and their stack sizes. That being said, when should we isolate limpers? When should we not?”

So Ron that’s a great question. Just to make sure that we’re all on the same page, an isolation is when there are 1 or more limpers and then we raise in an effort to isolate them and get them heads-up to ourselves. Now there are a bunch of things that go into an isolation and since you didn’t give me a very specific example, I’m going to talk about isolating in a very general conceptual sense.

When we’re isolating there are a couple big things that we want to be paying attention to. First of all, who’s the limper? What do they look like? Are they likely to limp-call, limp-fold or limp-re-raise? I’m usually not going to assume they are going to limp re-raise me too much, but I certainly keep it in mind if I’ve seen them do it in the past.

…who is each limper?…

I then think about the range that they are likely to limp with. There’s a difference between a fishy person who’s limping, because that could be a ton of different hands…versus more of a nitty opponent who maybe is just limping with set mines or suited connectors. Tighter players will have a very predictable range when they decide to do this.

Also think about big things like, who’s behind you? If you isolate this limper, or these multiple limpers, are you likely to get 3-bet a lot of the time? Are you likely to get called? If all of a sudden you get a bunch of callers and you have this huge multi-way pot. If you expect that, we don’t want to choose a range that’s very weak, we want to choose a range that’s very strong side-weighted.

It’s the kind of situation where you have to look at a bunch of different things, and as always, who are your opponents? Who’s behind you if you do decide to get aggressive? And then of course think about little details like your size. So if you choose a smaller isolation size, you’re probably going to see a flop every single time. If you choose a larger size, are you going to see a flop or are people going to fold pre-flop a large chunk of the time? Because if it’s the kind of spot where you get a limper, you can make a large raise and they’re going to fold a large chunk of the time…well that’s a really profitable situation for you and your cards don’t really matter all that much and it gives you a chance to really exploit your position.

Beyond just those general considerations the other big thing, of course, is our cards and the range that we want to use here. The big things that I look for when I choosing a range, obviously other than the other things that I just spoke about, is either

  1. Having card edge when they continue and/or
  2. Having a profitable plan if they continue

Obviously the more limpers that there are, the more difficult it’s going to be to raise here because it’s likely at least one of them is going to call and once one calls, everyone wants to call and then we have this huge multi-way pot. It’s the kind of situation where I don’t really want to choose a weak range of hands, if I’m going to get involved in a situation where I know I’m going to see a flop and its going to be multi-way and I have something junky like T♠ 7♠. That’s not really a great situation for me. I need to be thinking ahead in that regard, and T♠ 7♠ isn’t going to have card edge and it doesn’t have a very profitable plan either (other than hoping that you smash the flop).

There are sometimes when you’re just going to isolate against a fishy opponent, and you’re going to choose a strong range and having position makes it that much better and you’re just going to isolate and go from there. Now you just want to be careful with some of the smaller stuff, like if you have say pocket 4’s and there’s a fish…do you really need to raise and isolate him? Or could you just limp behind and try to create a more mult-way pot and let other people limp behind as well, and then have a better situation for your set-mine? There are situations where you can limp behind sometimes. Some players feel like you can just never limp behind, but there are good situations for it. Especially in spots where the isolation just isn’t all that great and doesn’t accomplish the goals you have.

…should you isolate with 44, or just limp behind?…

Card edge on their continuance range is very very good, or a profitable plan. You know, is villain the kind of person who is going to do a lot of limp-calling preflop but on the flop is going to do a lot of check-folding? Will they just say “well, I missed the flop and I’m going to check/fold everytime I miss”? If that’s the case you can continuation bet the  flop a large chunk of the time and pick it up easily. And if that’s the case, your cards don’t matter very much. When you have that really profitable plan, and you understand, “OK, could this just be a quick stab pre-flop, stab flop and they are going to fold a ton?”…that could be a nice profitable, cheap and easy play and you know what you’re going to do with the hand.

Overall, focus on card edge and/or a profitable plan. I mean obviously if you have a great hand and a profitable plan, that’s a great situation for you, but sometimes you’re not always going to have a great hand and other times you’re not going to have a great profitable plan. So as usual, you need to think ahead and then create the most profitable range for that situation. With practice and some off-table thinking you can create a super profitable isolating strategy, just keep these things in mind!

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