Reading preflop limpers

What has been getting me into trouble lately is misreads of preflop limpers. These types of misreads are a hole in my game that I need to close.

Hand review:

The preflop limper (whom I had not played against before and recently joined the table with 100 BBs) was in early position (the seat immediately after the UTG) and I was in the small blind with a stack of about 100 BBs. Almost everyone else ahead of me also limped in. I was holding 98 unsuited and was getting asked to call 20K to have a chance at a pot of about 260K.

With so many limpers, I was not comfortable raising in this position with a marginal hand, but I don’t think a flat call here was terrible decision if one considers both my equity requirement and the implied odds. Please feel free to correct me if this is flawed reasoning.

Anyways, the flop appeared to be quite favorable to me: K 9 8 rainbow. Since I am first to act, I decide to put in a pot-sized bet. The UTG calls my bet and the player after him shoves. I call the 3-bet as does the UTG. Everybody else folded.

Normally, I would be cautious about calling an all-in bet, but I thought that two pair was a strong hand in this situation, even though their was a small range of hands that could beat me, such as K9 or K8 or perhaps even KK. Guess which one it was?

Yes, the winning player limped in with KK out of position. I really thought I was good and was up against a pair of kings at most. Obviously, I made a bad call in hindsight, but was it a bad call in theory? Did I have enough equity to profitably make this call? Normally, I fold against 3-bets, because few players have the conviction to bluff.

My other mistake? Well, I limped in myself. If I opened here, I would have surely been called by the eventual winner, which would have provided me more insight on his hand strength. Still, I am not convinced that I would not have been felted even if I made an opening bet.



I don’t think raising with 98o preflop accomplishes anything except getting 3bet & forcing a fold or getting called by better hands. Seems better to play a small pot with a marginal hand that can still flop great. It never ceases to amaze me this strange play. I dont think this is slow play? Is it possible for almost any player to not 3bet preflop with KK?

Think I’d prefer to check raise on the flop kinda like check to the aggressor - although there isn’t one. Surely someone will take a shot at the pot with a better or worse hand. You will win more against worse hands by creating a bigger pot from check raise & hopefully get a 3bet from better hands and hopefully fold.

Hard to say I dont lose my stack too. I’m never raising preflop though & check raising the flop for more value & maybe get a better read to fold.

Yeah, this is a prevalent occurrence on free play sites: casual, passive players who just want to see flops with any two cards and don’t really understand the nuances of the game beyond hand rankings (i.e. limp bingo). They will limp in no matter how good or bad their starting hand is, and will pretty much call any open size up to and including 25BB because they’ve “gotta see a flop” even if it is 92o. The worst ones will never bet or raise, even if they have the nuts; they’re quite happy to let the hand go to showdown just calling anyone who bets (i.e. calling stations).

It is rather irritating, because you can never get a read on them if they never show any aggression and never fold… they simply always call and never deviate from that action regardless of what they have. Against this worst case scenario, you’re best off playing to your relative hand strength vs. the nuts by betting accordingly (which you did).

Fortunately, most of the limpers will either fold to a pre-flop open and/or make some kind of move post-flop to tip you off. Usually any kind of bet or raise is straight-forward and will not be a bluff, but their absolute hand strength is uncertain. Sometimes, you can make an estimate based on the bet or raise size. But again, the safe course here is to play to the strength of your own hand in this instance, unless you have observed a pattern.

Some very loose guidelines:

  • If they fold to your opens occasionally, expect them to have at a minimum connected or suited hole cards of any value when they call. Play post-flop with that range in mind whenever they bet/raise.
  • If you are insta-min-raised at any point by one of these people and do not have the nuts or near nut hand strength, strongly consider folding. This typically happens when they’ve checked the min-bet pre-action box which turns into a min-raise. This is a very aggressive move (for them). Yeah, sometimes you’re probably folding a winner, but most of the time you are screwed.
  • If you notice one of them min-betting the flop and turn, then nuking the river… you’re dealing with a “sapper”. Your best course of action is to trap these people; however, bluff raising the flop or turn can sometimes work as well (especially if you opened pre-flop). Usually though, you’ll want to dump your hand early if you miss the flop.
  • If you are raised or re-raised all-in, expect these opponents to have the nuts or very close to it. In your example, they had the set of Kings.

Dide, don’t even try to figure it out… it’s pointless.

A few weeks back, I was BB with a garbage hand, this lady limps in, and it folds to me. I raise to 4 BBs and she snap calls. HU to the flop.

Flop comes AJx with 2 hearts, I check, she min bets, and I call, thinking I will steal it later.

Turn brings the Jh, now a pair and 3 to the flush on board. I check, she min bets, I check raise 3/4 pot, she calls. Rut ro.

River is a blank, i check, she min bets,I fold my 9 high or whatever.

Then she shows her cards… 2 black queens.

I say, “Wow, NH, but why show?”

She comes back with, “I wanted you to see I wasn’t bluffing.”

I mumble, “Thanks!” and go make myself a drink. A big one, with plenty of alcohol.


Hi AKFolds, my advice is worth every chip you’ve paid for it and comes with a full money-back guarantee :slight_smile:

You seem to play at stakes way above my level so bear that in mind - you and your opponents almost certainly have far more experience and knowledge than I do!

Based on my experience, I assign a really wide opening range for RP players and I always assume that limping, raising, 3 betting with the whole range is entirely and equally possible! That is, I expect that I’m going to the flop with 1 or more players who are playing nearly, but not quite, any 2 cards (67%).

Preflop, against this range, your 98o has about 41% equity against a single player. You probably won’t lose as much equity as a premium hand does against multiple players but I’d still expect you to be down around 25-30% at most. If my maths is correct, a dubious assumption!, you’re getting 13:1 direct pot odds. I’m not comfortable assuming any implied odds but we don’t need them here anyway. 13:1 is more than enough if you really want to play this hand.

Raising preflop isn’t such a good idea with this hand - you might, might!, get some of the weaker hands to fold but there’s a truckload of hands better than yours that aren’t going anywhere. If I was playing with OPM (other peoples money) because of some good wins earlier in the session I’d be tempted to limp in from late position but otherwise I’d be folding.

That flop is great for you as you noted. Equilab puts your hand at 81% equity now. I’d definitely be tempted to bet pot size or greater in this position but first ask who is going to call? Anybody with Kx will want to see the turn, 3 of a kind obviously and straight draws. I can’t see any strong hands that are going to fold to your bet. On your side, you’re drawing for a full house, obviously, with great implied odds that really must be considered here. I think there’s no question that if you get your FH you’re getting at least 1 player to put their stack in the middle.

All things considered, betting here isn’t stupid but I’d prefer to check. If you’re really lucky you’ll get a free turn card otherwise you get some idea of what the opponents hold by way of their bet sizing. Your other option is a min-bet as a “probe”. I’m not a great fan of probe betting in general but, if I had played your hand, I think it’s a great option here. The truly weak hands are probably going to fold to any bet, really strong hands are going to raise and draws are going to call. You get a cheap turn card or some really good advice to fold and forget for minimum cost!

Anyway, you’ve got great equity and great odds and you opened the betting. When you get called here, you can narrow the range immediately to made hands that beat you and draws that also beat you. Of course, if you get to the turn or river and hit your FH, you take the pot. When the next player shoves, I would have alarm bells deafening the neighbourhood! Quite honestly, it’s either a really ballsy semi-bluff, 2 pair that dominate you or 3 of a kind.

You’ve got 4 outs on the turn and river = 8 outs in total meaning you need something like 30% equity against the revised range of this particular player. I didn’t do the numbers but my “gut feeling” is that you don’t have the equity to call here. Going with that is bitter experience that a shove should always be taken seriously! Most players, at my level, certainly don’t bluff anywhere near enough.

The last thing to consider is that folding is always 0ev. It is free to fold every single time.

Under these particular circumstances against unknowns, I really think folding to the shove was your best option.

You have probably worked out now that I’m not a fan of even entering this hand with your cards. After that, I think you have made some bad assumptions about preflop raising. Even little ol’ me will sometimes limp premium hands just to keep everyone off balance. I’ve also been known to 3 bet with complete rubbish for the same reason :slight_smile:

As I said earlier, checking or min-betting on the flop would have been my strategy but it’s not impossible that your bet would have folded the table. Then, finally, calling a shove in your position with your cards is just not realistic.

To fix your leak, as you perceive it, you really need to give your opponents a wider opening range than I think you currently do and do not draw conclusions based on them limping!


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If the CDC came out and told people that playing offsuit ragged aces and Broadways was the way COVID-19 was spread, people still wouldn’t fold them here :slight_smile:

Don’t play 9/8o from the SB multiway, period

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I think your a SnG player & maybe MTT? Seriously in a ring you wont pay a SB to see a flop multiway with 98o? If its suited its barely a stronger hand. Suited connectors are great multiway & Vs monster hands & premium hands that hit.

You start with over 100BB standard in ring and need to call 0.5BB to potentially win a lot. Its a very small gamble & cost.

Totally agree in a SnG or MTT fold it. You have 50BB or less even at the start of a game. If you play 98o in Sng or MTT your prob not winning a lot. In ring its an easy, cheap gamble.

I play mostly tournaments here (MTT and SNG) and mostly ring games on cash sites. When I do play ring games here, I never play 9-handed. Life is too short to sit around trading nut hands with calling stations for play chips. In the ring games I’ve played (mostly 1K/2K), I have a sick winrate.

So no, I wouldn’t even limp behind with 9/8o from the SB with 6-7 limps already. Most of the time I’ll whiff completely and give up the extra 0.5BB on the flop. Even worse, sometimes I’ll connect marginally, have to call a few more BB’s on the flop and then fold the turn or river. Worst case scenario is when I connect hard and someone is freerolling me with the same hand but with the flushdraw as well.

In silly soft games there’s no need to play big pots out of position with garbage. More can go wrong than right and I’m not interested in playing whack-a-flop.



I agree: the 9player is not my game in ring. Its pretty profitable to just play like a NIT on these 9PLY but also boring & crazy unpredictable at times. I’m mostly not interested in grinding.

I’m guessing that on a cash site you would rarely or almost never see 6-7 limps? OFC most of the time most hands miss the flop and cant/shouldnt continue multiway. I’m deff folding almost always in an SnG or MTT, bc of stack sizes & the risk Vs reward could = short stack or bust. Doesn’t 98o present similar unlikely risk/reward situations as suited connectors although a little less often? Suited connectors could occasionally run into better/nut flush or trips Vs trips better kicker etc.

I’ve heard that many good/pro tournament players will not play low pocket pairs for fear & experience of running into better sets & losing a lot of chips or busting. I agree with reducing risk, resisting the urge to gamble despite ridiculous equity or pot odds that many will argue.

I respect your discipline in folding for 0.5BB. I think I’ll gamble the 0.5BB OOP and try & make very disciplined flop/turn fold in these kind of scenarios most of the time. I’ll fold Q2o etc but I think I’m gambling 0.5BB with 98o kind of hands often in ring.

Out of interest I know you don’t play 9PLY ring on RP but if you were here on the SB what would you call & limp with, excluding obviously opening/raising hands like TT or AJo etc.

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Believe it or not, in low stakes and micro stakes, people still limp a ridiculous amount. Maybe not 6-7 limps but more like 2-5 limps if no one raises. I’ve seen people limp call hands like k2s all the time.


As the victim of many bad beats here on Replay (recently lost ~25 million across two hands where I 3-bet 3x over an open, got called out of position by suited gappers [79s and 68s in one hand and 79s in another], bet the flop while ahead and lost by the river), you just have to remember that bad plays are losing plays in the long run, even if they work sometimes.

You went along with the mass limping, which is fine, but your hand is quite bad, especially out of position. So, it is probably best just to fold because you are going to lose a lot more than you win in the long run, even though you have the odds to call. Being the aggressor is really the only way to win pots without having the best hand, so playing passively is like trying to play to break even.

Similarly, your opponent with KK is going to end in a multiway pot with lots of limpers, so they are both making the pot smaller than it would be if they raised and reducing their equity in the pot, while putting themselves in a tricky situation postflop. If the flop comes A98 or Q98, or really any situation apart from hitting a set (which only happens ~12% of the time), they are in big trouble. Yes, limpers on Replay can have any two cards, so in a 6-7 way flop somebody will hit it big, whether it is with 74o or KK. But, keep trying to take the initiative and you will be way ahead of these players in the long run.


pocket pairs, suited aces, suited connectors - mostly hands that can make the nuts or close to it.



Yea I noticed a few players limping even on RP 6MAX ring playing 500/1M elite stakes, from UTG or earlyP. One very high ranked player was also often limping in early position & then 3bet, 4bet or 5bet depp on action with premium hands. Like trapping or slow playing preflop lol. Even Phil Hellmuth doesnt do that.

Getting back to the OP personally I think its standard to just call the SB & take a flop in this ridiculous scenario that does happen more often than occasionally on RP.