Leak 3: Open Limp | Podcast #189

In this episode, I tell you why the open limp is a leak and how to quickly fix it.

In episode 188, I answered 3 questions about playing online poker with software restrictions, making better bluffs and improving your off-the-felt software usage skills.

What does open limping say to opponents? (1:55)

What is the first preflop move that will definitively tell you a player at your table is weak?  It’s open limping (just calling the big blind when you’re first to act or it’s folded around to you).  Your first reaction to an open limper must be to categorize them as a weak loose-passive player.

Open limping says to the table, “Hey, I’d like to see the flop with this crappy hand.  May I?”

If you ever open limp, and yes, I’m even talking about doing it in the SB, then this is a leak of yours.  It might be a tiny leak because you do it infrequently; but it’s still a leak.

The great news is that it’s a simple one to fix.  Before I get to fixing it, let’s discuss the leak a little more in detail.

The problem with open limping (2:50)

Players limp because they want to see the flop. They have hands like J9s, 22, 76s, A2o and K7s. They don’t feel like committing more than necessary to see the flop, and you’re hoping to hit a miracle 2p or better.

They limp because they want to get to the flop as cheaply as possible.  In their mind, it’s better than opening and facing a 3bet which would cost even more.

The real problem with open limping is that it only gives you one way to win the pot: hitting something good.  You have no fold equity when limping because you’re not putting any pressure on them.  Your limp gives players the incentive to either limp behind or iso raise you, costing you more to see the flop.

2bets or 3bets preflop with that limping hand has the same post-flop potential, but it also comes with fold equity that gives you one additional way to win the pot.

Diagnosing the leak (4:55)

1. Do you ever open limp?  If so, it’s a leak you have.

2. Look at your poker database.  Filter for limping first in preflop.  Most players are losers when limping.   It might not be that bad of a leak because you do it so infrequently or you make a little money when doing so, but it’s a leak regardless.  Open raising is going to be more profitable than open limping.

Looking Deeper Into J9s with Flopzilla (9:25)

J9s is a common open limping hand.

It hits 2 pair or greater only 5% of the time.  That means that when you limp, you’ll only be happy in 1 out of every 20 flops.  You won’t be happy with any TP (13%) or 2nd pair hand (13.4%).

Draws: oesd hits 7% and fd hits 11%.

You goal when limping with J9s is to hit 2p+ or a good draw.  This only happens 22% of the time total, or about 1 in every 5 hands (use Flopzilla to fact check me here, please).  Limping and relying on this is not a good strategy.

Instead of limping, you could open raise instead.  You still have that 22% chance of hitting a good hand or draw.  But when raising, you’ve also got fold equity that can win the pot without even seeing the flop.

PokerTracker 4 Filtering (12:20)

1. Filter for limping first in.  Record your win rate.

2. Now filter for raised first in preflop.  There’s a 95% or greater chance that this is a much more profitable play for you than open limping in.

What to do with this info (12:55)

Now that you know that limping is terrible, what should you do about it?  There are two things to do now:

1. Never open limp; open raise instead.

If a hand is worth playing, it’s worth coming in for a raise.

2. Exploit the limpers at your tables.  Tag limpers as weak fishy players (loose-passive) and try to get involved in as many pots as possible against them.

Challenge (14:10)

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode.  For the next week, DO NOT open limp.  Not even in the SB when it’s folded to you.  If your hand is worth playing, it’s worth coming in for a raise.

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Thank you so much to everyone who purchased the PDF copy of Preflop Online Poker.  I truly appreciate it and I hope it helps you on your poker journey.

Sky Matsuhashi
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