Over-Limping and When It’s OK


In Texas Hold’em, we practically always insist on a raise or fold policy when entering the pot. We’ve written before on why limping in is bad. However, over-limping is something different. And, in some scenarios, it’s actually okay to do this. In this article, we’re going to explain what over-limping is and then offer food for thought on when it’s a reasonable line to take.

What is Over-Limping?

Over-limping is where there has already been a player who has flat called before the flop and then you call behind.

Now you know what over-limping is, let’s see when it’s alright to execute.

Setting a Trap for an Aggressive Player

In today’s games, strong aggressive players pounce on any sign of weakness. Even for those that are playing 4 + tables, they will spot when players are passively limping into the pot and attack it. Sure, some of the time they are doing it with premium hands too, but you can be sure they are attempting to pick up what they perceive as dead money with a wide range of hands. As such, you can set some great traps by over-limping some of your big hands.

The trap works well when the aggressive player is behind you and they’ve shown they are willing to attack nothing pots in the past. Otherwise, you will just be inviting action multi-way. The great thing about this move is that it is hard to detect. Most players won’t pin you for a premium holding. Therefore, you can occasionally over-limp with big pocket pairs in the hopes they will attempt a pick-up.

Set-Mining Small Pairs

Usually, when you iso-raise over a limper, it’s because you want the pot heads up. This way you have less opponents involved and an increased chance of picking it up post-flop. However, small pairs have excellent value if you hit. There is a persuasive case for over-limping small pairs as you want to keep in speculative hands that may otherwise fold. Consider hands like ace-eight or king-nine. If you flop a set against one of these hands that make top pair or maybe even top two pair, your implied odds are great.

The downside to over-limping small pairs is that you have less chance of winning the pot. But, in deep stack cash games, small pairs are mostly played for set value anyway. So, if you’re at a limp happy table, feel free to join them with small pairs and hopefully you can stack someone overplaying a marginal hand. We usually find the softer sites have higher frequency of limpers. Read online poker room reviews to find one’s with weak competition and where set-mining is more profitable.

Against a Short Stack

Whilst an iso-raise is often a profitable line to take, sometimes it’s futile when you’re facing someone who is severely short stacked. Consider a playable hand like a suited connector. This hand derives its value multi-way and/or deep stacked. It doesn’t fare well against a short stack. You are left with two options; raise and potentially have to call a shove where you will be in poor shape, or fold and lose equity if others enter the pot too. Therefore, we suggest over-limping with some of the medium strength hands that have plenty of post-flop value but will do poorly against a stack of 20 big blinds or less.

Final Thoughts

Most of the time raising over a limper or folding a marginal hand is going to be better than calling. However, as detailed in this article, there are some instances where it’s good to over-limp. Poker is a complex game and balancing your play and mixing it up has its merits. By over-limping once in a while with a big pair or avoiding a short stack shoving on you can yield better results. Therefore, we urge you to carefully consider your options when you see a limper next time. If you need any help with your pre-flop game, feel free to chat to us by clicking below.

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: info@texasholdemquestions.com