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Poker Strategy With Andrew Brokos -- Limped Pots

Understanding The Old Poker Adage, "Don't Go Broke In A Limped Pot"

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Andrew Brokos“Don’t go broke in a limped pot” is right up there with “Never draw to an inside straight” as one of the most timeworn adages in poker. Like most of these bits of received wisdom, it serves as both a helpful warning to inexperienced players and a hindrance when those same players start trying to think about the game in more nuanced ways. This article seeks to extract the relevant wisdom from that statement and repackage it in less absolutist terms to help you better evaluate the strength of your hand in a limped pot.

Why Not Go Broke?

There are two major causes for caution in limped pots. The first is the depth of the stacks. Although it’s common to measure stacks in terms of big blinds, the more relevant metric is really the size of the pot. In their book Professional No Limit Hold ‘Em, Ed Miller and his co-authors use the very helpful “Stack-to-Pot Ratio,” or SPR, to measure stack depth.

In a game with 100 big blind stacks, if three players see the flop in a raised pot, there will often be 10 or so big blinds in the pot and 97 in the effective stacks, meaning an SPR between 9 and 10.

In a limped pot, even if more players see the flop, the SPR will be much higher. For example, if 5 players limp in, there will be 5 big blinds in the pot and 99 in the effective stacks, for an SPR of nearly 20.

“Going broke” in this limped pot would entail putting in twice as much money relative to the size of the pot as would getting all-in in the aforementioned raised pot. Even though you’re putting in roughly the same number of big blinds in both cases, you need a much better hand in the limped pot because of the higher SPR. It’s hardly a revelation to say that you need a bigger hand to play a bigger pot.

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