When and Why to Limp in Poker Cash Games

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Most poker experts will tell you never to limp when playing poker, especially in Texas Hold’em cash games. It’s a sign of weakness and a passive move that good opponents can easily punish.

I completely agree with the overall idea, but it ignores a huge part of the equation. Poker cash games can produce countless situations against all sorts of players. You shouldn’t remove any weapon from your arsenal.

In certain cases, limping can be a viable decision in poker cash games. Ignoring it means you’re leaving money on the table. That’s why I decided to highlight several situations where limping in poker cash games makes sense.

I didn’t focus on specific formats, but the spots I’ve included mostly happen in No Limit Texas Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha Hi cash games with five to nine people.

Limping from the Small Blind

Completing from SB is arguably the most common situation in which limping makes sense because of the pot odds. You already placed a small blind on the table, so you need to only provide another one instead of the full big blind.

The discounted limp price gives you better odds, but it doesn’t mean you should be limping too often, either. A lot of players leak money by entering the pot with all sorts of trash hands and without a plan.

You should always have a clear goal in mind when completing from the small blind. Here are examples of situations when limping from SB makes a lot of sense.

Versus Other Limpers

If other people have already limped and you have excellent odds, you can often afford to limp and try to catch something on the flop. You shouldn’t complete with any two cards, but your range should be fairly wide.

Suited connectors and gappers, suited aces, small pairs … pretty much any speculative hand that could hit big on the flop makes sense. The more people have limped before you, the wider your range should be.

Most of the time, your goal would be to either hit a strong hand or a strong draw on the flop. If you miss out completely, you’re out.

There might be exceptions where you want to steal the pot against a small number of passive opponents, but that’s highly situational.


Limping from the small blind when everyone has folded is also a viable strategy. Naturally, it depends on your opponent and your hand.

If you play against a very passive big blind player, you can either make a small raise or limp with almost any two hands. Your goal is to steal the pot either instantly (when you raise) or on the flop (when you limp). Doing both adds some variety to your game.


You could also limp to control the size of the pot and play post-flop. Some players are really poor in the later streets, so you often want to get there without investing a lot of money. Limping is an easy way to continue to hand at a low cost, provided the opponent against you allows it.

Finally, if you limp every now and then with speculative hands, you open the door to slowplaying monsters. You don’t want to do that often, and I’m not a big fan, but if the big blind is sick of your limps and raises, you might get a lot of extra value.

It’s highly situational, so carefully examine the circumstances and decide whether limping with a strong hand makes sense.

Overlimping on Passive Tables

Most players know limping is often bad nowadays, so you won’t find many poker cash tables where everyone limps online and in land-based casinos.

And yet, some low-limit tables and many home cash games are full of passive opponents. They will try to see the cheap flops all the time, which opens up many opportunities.

Most of the time, you want to punish such players by isolating them with raises from position. It’s the most efficient approach, but limping every now and then for variety and balance works too.

For Example

If you have something like a small pair or mid-suited connectors against two or three limpets, you can give it a try.

Here are the factors you need to consider when you decide between raising and overlimping with speculative hands (ordered by priority).

  • Can You Steal or Isolate – If you have a solid chance of stealing the pot preflop or isolating against one player, you should raise. Keep the pot smaller and limp if you expect a bunch of calls.
  • The Number of Limpers – The more people limp, the higher the chances of getting multiple callers if you raise. That’s hardly ideal if you plan to steal the pot without much resistance.
  • Your Position – The more people behind you, the higher chance of someone raising against several limpers, which will put you in a tough spot.

Before I move on to the next spot in which limping works in poker cash games, let me remind you I’m talking about speculative hands here. Strong starting cards should be played aggressively against calling stations because you have an excellent chance of building a big pot early on.

Open Limps on Crazy Tables

It’s almost always a poor decision to limp first, also called open limping. You should be raising the hands you want to play to take the initiative and start building a pot.

However, there’s one glaring exception to this rule. If you’re playing on a completely crazy table with several maniacs and/or tilted opponents who are constantly raising and reraising, you want to be sneaky.

You can limp monster hands like aces or kings if there’s a high chance of action. The reason is simple – you want as much money in the pot as possible as early as possible. You usually force that with raises and reraises, but in this case, you leave other players to do it for you.


Just limp and wait for the raises. What happens next depends on the number of opponents, the size of the pot, and your overall expectations. You can go all-in against multiple players/raises, and you can simply reraise.

You can even continue your sneaky line by flat calling against one or two opponents if you expect a continuation bet on the flop, no matter what.


Your main goal in poker is to be elusive and efficient. The best way to achieve it is to use all options at your disposal, and limping is not an exception. It might be a bad decision most of the time, but it can be highly profitable in some situations.

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Petko Stoyanov
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About Petko Stoyanov
My name is Petko Stoyanov, and I've been a gambling writer for more than ten years. I guess that was the natural path for me since I've loved soccer and card games for as long as I can remember! I have a long and fairly successful history with English Premier League betting and online poker, but I follow many other sports. I watch all big European soccer leagues, basketball, football, and tennis regularly, and I keep an eye on snooker, volleyball, and major UFC events.