Unlike regular NLH, where limping is usually the sign of a weak player, in 6+ it’s an integral part of the game. For that reason, there will be many more opportunities to isolate limpers and it’s very common to have two or more players limping, as the odds you are given to limp into the pot are very good, due to the ante structure. You can almost look at limps and ISO-raises corresponding to raises and 3-bets respectively in regular NLH, because it’s so common to limp into pots rather than open-raise.
Position is a very important factor in this game, so one might think that you can very aggressively exploit limpers, by raising a lot of hands to get position throughout the hand. In reality there will be many times, you’ll get reraised or flat-called from players behind. When you do get flat-called that often means that the limper(s) will also come along, so you need decent hand strength to ISO-raise.
What factors are important to determine when we should Isolate limpers?
When deciding to isolate limpers there are many other factors than your hand to consider. Here are four important factors to consider whether you should ISO-raise or not.
- Position matters!
- Stacksizes – shallow, standard or deep?
- Who’s left to act? Passive or aggressive players?
- ISO vs reg or rec?
1. Position matters!
Position is something we should always be aware of. UTG & UTG+1 limps are known to be much stronger, as villain should not have a raising range and limp tighter from EP. Therefore you should isolate with a tighter range vs early position limps, and widen up your range against MP and LP limps.
When facing multiple limpers you should pay most attention to the first-in limper. The second and especially the third limper will rarely limp behind with a strong hand to trap. This happens even less so in micro to lowstakes, where the majority doesn’t balance strong hands into their limp-behind range.
2. Stacksizes – shallow, standard or deep?
Just like in every other poker variant, stack sizes play a crucial role in our decision, whether it’s to limp, go all-in or to ISO against limpers.
Shallow stack size is ~60a and below, while standard is anything up to 200a, which would then be considered deep.
If we are facing a fairly shallow stack we should not ISO-raise as light as we might do against another opponent who is 200 antes deep or more. Why? Because if we ISO with e.g. AT, QJ or T9 and get jammed on by a shorter (shallow) stack, we are very often pot committed. This isn’t necessarily always a bad ISO-raise, but it definitely increases the variance in the game. Generally speaking, you should try to play more pots postflop, instead of getting it in with hands that are slightly +EV calls. Playing postflop will have the highest EV on your winrate.
When you are deep stacked you can ISO-raise with a wider range, since villain will face a tough decision if he has a hand that he would normally shove with against ~100 ante stacks. There are not many people that 3bet-bluff OOP, when playing deep, so we will very often be able to realize our equity with the hands we choose to ISO, compared to standard stack sizes where we get shoved on more frequently.
3. Who’s left to act? Passive or aggressive players?
This one is a bit more obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. If you have a very aggressive opponent on your left, you should opt to limp behind more instead of ISO-raising. You would have to fold against many 3bet-shoves and if you are limping with a premium hand, you will have a great scenario lined up for your limp-shove with dead money in the pot, making this a very profitable play in 6+ Hold’em.
4. ISO vs Reg or Rec?
You might wonder why it’s important, but if you are facing a weaker opponent (rec), it is better to ISO with a wide range of hands, because we will significantly profit from the fact that we could be playing heads up and in position against the recreational player. We will make less mistakes, given you already have some experience in 6+ postflop play and are familiar with equities and hand strength. If not, I suggest you check out some of our other beginners content as well as our odds calculator that should help you get a better understanding of the game and how equities run between hands.
These are the main things you should consider before you decide to ISO over limps. If you would like to become more familiar with solid ISO ranges, we highly recommend you having a look at our Starting Hand Chart Vol. 3, which covers ISO-raising vs. limps, for 100-200a stack sizes.
- Tighten up your range against shallow stacks and opponents that limp / shove a lot
- Isolate recreational players often with a wider range
- Be aware who is sitting behind you. Limp more behind on an aggressive table and vice versa
- Don’t ISO too wide vs EP limps – attack more MP and LP limps