Adjusting your pre-flop poker game to pounce on limpers.
When playing in a live poker game, you’re likely to come across a high volume of pre-flop limpers; especially in cash games at ‘locals’ casinos. Limpers are most often casual poker players will little genuine skill for the game. Montreal’s Playground Poker Club is known as a professionals lounge, so you won’t find nearly as many here as you will in some place like the 5-table poker room at B.C.’s Cascades Casino Langley.
Tracking limpers down is the easy part, but it takes patience. You can’t simply pounce on a limper just because he’s matched the BB UTG. Assuming he’s weak is a good way to sacrifice your chips. You have to keep an eye on these players to see what they are limping with, and how often they’re continuing or folding to a strong raise.
Adjust Your Pre-Flop Poker Game for Limpers
The vast majority of limpers are easy to exploit, once you’ve figured out their patterns. And because they are weak recreational players, they won’t even be aware they’re displaying patterns. All the better for practiced players like yourself.
Your first job is to identify and judge their range of hands. Not every limper has a weak hand range, though. It could be anything from low pairs and connectors, to nothing below AK and QQ+. Start conservatively, and you’ll be the one doing the exploiting—not the other way around.
Your second job is to place the isolation raise (aka “iso-raise”), taking full advantage of your knowledge. The iso-raise is a simple concept. When the opponent limps in from early position, you place a raise large enough that all other players should back off the pot 4-5x the BB should do it. This isolates you with the limper for the duration of the hand (hence the term, isolation raise).
How the limper reacts to this raise will be based on his actual hand range. And if you did the first job correctly, observing and taking mental notes on this player before iso-raising, you should already have a good idea of what that range is. If he’s a limp-folder, you can iso-raise with a wider range of hands. Even if he calls when his hands are strongest, he’ll fold more often on the weak hands, giving you high limp-fold equity.
Judging Your Acceptable Hand Range
A player who limps in, then folds to pressure more often than not, can be put a wide range of starting hands. In this case, you can iso-raise on a wider range of your own hands. Similarly, if you’re in position (late to act), you can iso-raise on a wider range of hands.
If this limper happens to 3-bet limp more often than straight limping, you’ll want to tighten up your hand selection for iso-raising. And, similarly again, if they become more loose/aggressive post-flop, your iso-raising hand selection should be tighter.
The iso-raise poker strategy is a fantastic addition to any live poker arsenal. You’ll find it useful online, as well, but internet players tend to be less perceptive, failing to recognize the strength of an iso-raise. This makes the strategy less effective. Practice it religiously, use it wisely, and you should be able to add limp-fold equity to your key ROI components.
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