Owner and Lead Pro
Professional Cash game trainer Bart Hanson has been producing strategy content for over fifteen years. He first started on Live at the Bike! back in 2005, then moved on to host "Cash Plays" on Poker Road, then "Deuce Plays" on Deuces Cracked and then to CrushLivePoker in 2012.
In his career as a professional poker player, Bart Hanson has:
-6 WSOP Final Tables
-Over 15 years of experience at the table
-Over $1,000,000 in tournament earnings
-Multiple appearances on ESPN and Poker Night in America
-4th place finish in 2019 WSOP Monster Stack
If you’re a live poker player, you’ve likely played your fair share of limped pots along the way. Limp pots are a staple of low-mid stakes live poker, and you’ll often see 3-5 players openlimp preflop before it’s even your turn to act. In this article we’ll break down how to attack limped pots from the blinds, and discuss when you should overlimp in late position, after several players limp before you.
Limped Pots From the Blinds
Small Blind and Big Blind strategy in a limped pot will be different depending on the structure of the game ($2/$5 vs $5/$5 for example), so let’s look at a game type where the Small Blind is a lesser amount than the Big Blind. When completing from the Small Blind, you’ve got to consider the rake structure of the game you’re playing first. If you’re playing in a high rake or drop structure, you may be getting worse odds to complete the Small Blind than it looks like, since the casino will take a portion of the pot once you see the flop. However, if you’re playing somewhere with no rake, it can make more sense to complete the Small Blind and see a flop.
The number one question you should ask yourself when completing the Small Blind is this:
“Would I overlimp on the Button with this hand, given the same pot odds?”
For some reason, many players are eager to defend their Small Blind with a hand like 93s, but when dealt the same hand on the Button they fold preflop. Facing multiple limps you’re of course getting great odds to continue, but position is a key factor in realizing your equity postflop. The range which you overlimp on the Button should be as wide or wider than the range you complete the Small Blind with, since both will have similar pot odds to call preflop with 2 or more limpers, and your position will allow you to realize much more of your equity than being out of position postflop.
Playing limped pots postflop from the blinds is a much different scenario than calling a raise in the blinds, so we have to adjust our actions accordingly. If you have a weak top pair hand in the Big Blind, like 94s on 923r, your hand is very vulnerable and needs protection, so you might choose to lead out for value. This flop is top pair dynamic, meaning the turn can easily come a high card, changing the top pair, so we need to protect our equity and fold out some of the overcards in our opponent’s ranges.
If the flop is more draw heavy and dynamic, we’ll want to charge draws with our value hands, especially if the top pair is static, like a king high or ace high board. Ace high boards are a bit trickier, since many players over limp with random Ax combos, so it’s important to have some check-calls with our lower Ax combos in the blinds to protect our range and avoid value-owning ourselves. In general however, we want to charge draws on dynamic boards with our top pairs and get value from worse holdings.
Now, when we’re facing 4+ limpers in an extreme multiway spot out of position, we’ll want to check a lot of our top pairs with weak kickers, and plan to evaluate based on the action. For example, if we have 94o on 9-8-3 two tone, facing a bet from early position and two calls, we can comfortably fold our hand and move on. However, if we have the same hand facing a CO bet, we can call and evaluate turn. Instead of having a predetermined action such as check-call or check-fold, we can check-evaluate a lot of times in the blinds and wait for our opponents to give us more information. For example, if Under the Gun leads out into 4 players left to act, it’s a much stronger action than the Button taking a stab at the pot after 4 players check to them.
Overlimping in Late Position
Facing just one limper, you can basically play the same raising range you normally play from the Cutoff and Button, adding 1 big blind to your raise size. Once you get two or more limpers involved, you’ll want to tighten your raising range to mirror your early position opening range. However, this tight Under the Gun open range leaves out a lot of hands out that have great playability in position, such as small pocket pairs, suited connectors, and suited gappers. Once 2 or more players limp to you, you can definitely over limp in late position with these kinds of combos profitably.
When playing postflop in a limped pot, position is key. Let’s say we overlimp T♣ 8♣ on the Button, and the flop comes 8♦ 4♦ 3:s, giving us top pair on a flush draw and wheel draw board.
In these situations, raising for value and protection can be a great idea, and can sometimes have a combo effect of getting better hands to fold and worse hands to call. For example, let’s say the Hijack bets, the Cutoff calls, and we raise T♣ 8♣ on 8♦ 4♦ 3♠. The Big Blind could have a hand like J8 or Q8 that may just fold facing all this action, and we could get flush draws and hands like 87s that bet the flop to call our raise. In general, the more draw heavy the board is, and the more vulnerable your top pair is, the more flop raising you can do.
If you’re on the Button and hit a monster hand, you’ll also want to raise for value facing a bet. Of course slowplaying sometimes can make sense depending on the bettor and the texture of the flop, but in general you’ll want to raise your nutted combos and build the pot. If the board is very dry and you’re facing a late position flop bet, you could consider slowplaying your nutted hands on occasion. However, when you’re facing a bet and a call, you’re going to mainly be looking to build the pot by raising the flop, especially if the board is draw heavy. Make your adjustments based on the types of opponent’s you’re facing, and always look for key indicators such as the position of the player betting and how dynamic the board is when deciding between slowplaying and raising your heavy value combos.
If you’d like to learn more and dive deeper into strategy for limped pots, check out the full breakdown in CLP Podcast Episode 548: Mastering Limped Pots.
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