Limp in Poker & Why It’s Almost Always Bad

Limp In Poker

What is Limp in Poker?

The open limp is where a player will enter the pot by flat calling the blinds. It is the cheapest way to enter the pot and generally used by beginner players to see how the rest of table will act before choosing to invest more before the flop.  

Why is it so Bad to Limp in Poker?

I’m willing to stick my neck out on this one and say it’s almost always bad to open limp in tournament poker. There are scenarios where it can be ok – I make exception from the small blind, but every other position I will almost never advocate an open limp. If you are a video member, you will see an open limp from an opponent at my table will a instantly justify a weak tag on them. Judgemental? Yes, but with good reason. Let’s take a look at some reasons why open limping is bad poker strategy.

Weak Passive Play Doesn’t Win

Players can be grouped into several categories, each one with distinct traits that separate them from others e.g. tight aggressive and loose aggressive. The style of poker that involves open limping is generally weak passive, one of the worst traits to have. Why? Winning poker strategy almost always means playing aggressively, you can achieve this with different pre-flop hand selection but you must be aggressive when you do play (generally).

Adopting a weak passive style is likely to see you getting bullied out of countless pots. The reality is, you will not hit enough strong hands to command a decent post flop win %.

Limping in is very fishy play

What are You Representing by Limping?

By open limping, you are telling the table you have a weak to medium strength hand. Any decent player will immediately recognise that you want to enter the pot cheaply as you are not coming in for a raise. The reason this is bad is simple, a table of good players will isolate your limps and take pot after pot from you. You cannot legitimately represent premium hands when you open limp/call which makes post flop play tricky for you too.


I always ask students, are the ingredients of the hand on your side when you are involved in a pot? The ingredients being ; position, pre-flop lead/aggression, hand strength and ability. This can be converted to questions as follows:

  • Do you have positional advantage?
  • Are you the pre flop raiser?
  • Do you think you have the stronger hand?
  • Are you the better player?

Now let’s answer the questions above when you open limp from early position with:

Do you have positional advantage?
No. Unless it folds to the blinds.

Are you the pre-flop raiser?

Do you think you have the stronger hand?
Possibly, if it folds to the blinds.

Are you the better player?
Unlikely, if you are the type of player to open limp.

Clearly the ingredients to winning the hand are not on your side by adopting a limp in style of poker. That doesn’t mean you won’t win the hand but you are handicapped somewhat.

Conclusion on Open Limping

Limping in is a poor poker strategy. It makes playing post flop poker harder, you are less likely to win and more likely to get bluffed out too. By adopting this style, you are inviting better players to abuse you before and after the flop and put you in awkward positions. There are professionals that have attempted this style of poker in the past with a view to setting traps but it is rarely profitable and to be used at your peril.

Even with the relentless aggression in online poker, the limp in style of poker is not one to be seriously considered yet. It’s possible in 10 years, that limping in might be a strategy to consider (but I doubt it!).  

If you enjoyed this article, perhaps you’d be interested in reading our poker tournament strategy tips or our poker cheat sheet article? We also have a video membership which is perfect for low stakes players keen to improve their game. Best of all, you can trial it for free.

Image Source for Fish: Unsplash

Narciso Baldo is the Director and Head Coach of Texas Hold'em Questions. He has been playing poker for over 16 years. After spending many years as a professional, he now runs UK poker training site Texas Hold'em Questions. Narciso regularly writes poker articles sharing tips, strategy, news and experience with gambling enthusiasts. Narciso also writes for reputable gambling portal Casino City Times, (bio here). Contact: