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Technique Op-Ed: Why Hellmuth's Limp Technique is Unhealthy for Poker
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Technique Op-Ed: Why Hellmuth’s Limp Technique is Unhealthy for Poker

Read all about the limping strategy Phil Hellmuth employed during the 'High Stakes Duel'

After Phil Hellmuth’s spectacular come-from-behind victory towards Daniel Negreanu within the ‘Excessive Stakes Duel’ on PokerGo, author Nick Fisk has written this technique op-ed analyzing the 15-time bracelet winner’s limping technique.


There is no denying that Phil Hellmuth’s heads-up comeback was a outstanding achievement. However what shouldn’t be forgotten is the weird technique of limping that Hellmuth employed as a way to obtain this victory.

It isn’t that Hellmuth did not have a elevating button. In one of many very first fingers of the duel, Hellmuth three-bet with {k-Hearts}{q-Diamonds}, Daniel Negreanu four-bet with {a-Spades}{a-Clubs}, and Hellmuth made a cautious lay-down.

However Hellmuth continued with the technique of limping from the button, even with fingers like {k-}{10-} or {8-}{8-} the place standard knowledge can be to no less than put in a elevate to no less than gauge the power of your opponent’s hand. Maybe earlier on, Negreanu was extra inclined to boost, after which mostly Hellmuth would simply name. As the sport floor on, Negreanu was extra inclined to test again and see an inexpensive flop.

Heads-Up Guessing Sport

There are such a lot of the reason why for me, limping is a poor technique, notably with moderate-good fingers. The primary cause, after all, is that post-flop, it actually turns into an entire guessing recreation as to what your opponent may need, and also you’re letting them doubtlessly flop that unlikely two pair with one thing like {9-}{4-}. If you happen to’ve limped with {k-}{10-} and it comes {k-}{9-}{4-}, you actually are in hassle. As well as after all, elevating pre-flop with fingers you hope to win with will increase the pot-size and the quantity you hope to win.

3 Causes Why Limping Pre-Flop Was Unhealthy

  • It turns right into a guessing recreation pre-flop
  • You run the danger of getting out-flopped
  • You fail to extend the scale of pots you would possibly later hope to win

Perhaps Hellmuth employed this strategy to minimize risk, but I don’t think this is an effective way of playing heads-up in the long term. In my experience, heads-up should be all about bet, bet, bet instead of check, check, check. It should be about using a fair bit of aggression to try and win both the big and small pots.

Another reason for the unusual play might be that down to Mike Matusow. A close friend of Hellmuth’s, Matusow had apparently been keeping an eye on the Polk v Negreanu match. So it might have been identified that Negreanu was tending to put in a lot of annoying 3-bets and so flat-calling might prevent this. Perhaps Team Hellmuth also figured they were more likely to win hands that got to the post-flop stage and limping ensured more hands got to this stage?

When You Should Limp Heads-Up

That’s not to say the strategy of flat-calling should never be used. I would definitely use it just about every time pre-flop against an ultra-aggressive player who was either shoving or massively over-betting just about every time pre-flop. But Negreanu was definitely no such opponent, not showing any particular aggression. I think Negreanu’s flaw, particularly as he went into a good lead early on, was imagining he was just going to waltz to victory without having to think too much about things.

Only towards the very end, once it was Negreanu who finally had the depleted stack did Hellmuth begin to correctly show a little more aggression. But even while Hellmuth had the lead, he was still prone to limping just about every time.

Dragged Out Heads-Up Match

You could argue that Hellmuth although showed great patience to come back from such a huge deficit, the match could still have ended way, way sooner if Hellmuth had just raised far more often from the button. The commentators pointed this out repeatedly and had more or less given up on ways of expressing their incredulity at Hellmuth’s apparent strategy.

I did almost wonder if Hellmuth had been instructed to limp so often in order to intentionally prolong the match, but I can’t really see if there would be too much benefit to that for anyone. All I can say is that I hope the employment of this woeful strategy was strictly a one-off, and we will see some more skilful, aggressive and entertaining play in any potential rematch.



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