Even the most casual recreational online poker players who are not too bothered about actually learning much about the game will be reasonably acquainted with the concept of limping into pots. But what about the subject of overlimping?
Otherwise referred to as ‘limping behind’, this is when we elect to limp into the pot after one or more have already limped in pre-flop. Incidentally, the distinction should be made here between open-limping – as in being the first player to enter a pot pre-flop by limping in – and those who subsequently limp in.
Given how every online poker fan and their dog have been increasingly conditioned in recent years to believe that only wimps limp, we could be forgiven for wondering why, if that’s the case, what would be the point in overlimping. However, it can be a very useful tactic…
Poker is, of course, a strategic, thinking game, and some lines of play have been well and truly tried and tested and will be more effective than others, just as some are know to be less than effective. The evolution and subsequent widespread availability of poker theory has created a mass of players who endeavour to adhere to an array of recommended approaches and strategies to a point at which play can become, en masse, quite formulaic and predictable. With that in mind, it’s important to try to stay ahead of the crowd and look for ways in which we can exploit conventional, standard practice and our opponents’ tendency to continue to play in the same way in this or that situation. Or, put another way, we can take advantage of what is expected of us, of how our making a specific play will be perceived.
Overlimping plays into that kind of universal expectation. It’s accepted nowadays that, once a couple of players have limped in already, when it’s our turn to act we should opt for one of two choices: either folding, or raising to punish said limpers with a view to assuming the initiative in a bid to get in the driver’s seat and steer the hand to a success and the chips from the middle to our stack. This is standard, of course, because it is indeed a sound strategy and, most of the time, a considerably better approach than overlimping. But it’s interesting, and significant, that in today’s environment nobody even dare consider the overlimping option. And that kind of automatic, blinkered, conditioned thinking is unhealthy, and the more we allow ourselves to lazily follow convention – regardless of it being in the main the best policy – the more we deny ourselves opportunities to go against the grain when doing so might reap rewards.
Before we even think about those situations which better lend themselves to overlimping, we can turn the subject on its head and ponder the times when raising those who have limped before us might not be a wise course of action. If, for instance, the table is full of players happy to limp pre-flop and subsequently call a raise, with any two cards, then while that is great when we’re very strong, it’s not what we want if we have a decent or marginal hand and were raising to isolate – this would merely put us in limbo against a bunch of unknowns, but having invested/risked more chips for the privilege. In that scenario, with a hand that we’d be happy to limp in with but which doesn’t promise to perform well in a multi-way pot, then (over)limping is indeed a perfectly reasonable and logical play. Aggression is a key and increasingly necessary part of poker, but aggression for aggression’s sake because it’s the ‘done thing’ is simply foolhardy.
Hopefully, this introduction to overlimping has awoken (or reminded) players to the possibility that there’s more to pre-flop play in this situation than folding or raising…
Good luck at the tables!