Open-Limping In Late Position

It’s important to make a distinction between over-limping (which is limping after other players have already done so) and open-limping (which is limping when you’re the first poker player to enter the pot).

In stud poker, open-limping in late position is something you'll frequently see in low-stakes pokjer games, but almost never in mid-to high-stakes games.

The Psychology Behind the Limp

There are some social and psychological factors that may cause players to open-limp, instead of raising, from late position. You’ll frequently hear things at low-stakes poker games like:

  • “You’re just being a bully”
  • “Raising my big blind again!”
  • “Chop-blocker!”

It’s easy to vilify someone who frequently raises from late position when the action folds to them. But remember, your top priority in a poker game is not to make friends, it's to make real money gambling. You can be social at the table while also playing sound poker - no matter the pot limit or table stakes.

Why Late Position is a Big Mistake

Let’s go over some additional factors why open-limping from late position is an even bigger mistake than early-position limping.

First off, never underestimate how important position is in a poker game. You will get plenty more information about this in subsequent Lessons, but here are the nuts and bolts:

  • Playing poker hands in position is a massive advantage. Overall, you’ll win significantly more pots when playing pokers hands in position vs. out of position.
  • Therefore, it’s critical you make your in-position pots larger than your out-of-position pots. This is precisely why limping from an early position as the first player to enter the pot is a bad idea.

Reading the Blinds

The next consideration is how people play in the blinds. Again, we’ll dive much deeper into playing from the blinds in future Lessons, but let’s lay some groundwork now...

ALL poker players lose money long-term from the blinds. Even the best players in the world. Over any significant sample size, no matter how big of a winner they are in the game, all players will show a net negative when playing out of the blinds.

Why? The combination of paying a forced blind AND being out of position for the rest of the poker hand sets you up for disaster. Because the math is too much to overcome, you are looking to play a blinds strategy that allows you to lose the least amount of money long-term.

The quality of play at low-stakes games only compounds these problems. Simply put, poker players call way too much. For whatever reason, bad players feel an irrational devotion to their blind. They don’t like to fold it. But they also won’t 3-Bet at anywhere near an appropriate rate, so the result is many low-stakes players continually calling large raises with bad hands while in the blinds.

Use Your Opponents Mistakes to Your Advantage

If you remember Lesson 1, we make real money gambling in stud poker games by forcing our opponents into mistakes. Open-limping in late position does the opposite; it lets them off the hook and leaves free chips on the table.

Alternatively, open-raising in late position capitalizes on the bad tendencies of our weak opponents. We can raise frequently, and for larger sizes, knowing our opponents’ propensity to call out of the blinds.

This allows us to play larger pots while in position, which is all anyone can ask for. Assuming we don’t get greedy with what stud poker hands we raise, we can still expect to have a slightly stronger range of hands than what most live low-stakes players are calling with from the blinds. This sets you up for future success no matter your card games.