This is a discussion on "small ball" poker within the online poker forums, in the Learning Poker section; I've heard this phrase, "small ball poker" quite a few times--mostly in reference to Daniel Negraneau actually--and have basically no understanding on what it means
I've heard this phrase, "small ball poker" quite a few times--mostly in reference to Daniel Negraneau actually--and have basically no understanding on what it means or how to play "small ball" in poker. I'm looking for any thoughts from anyone, the good, bad, and the ugly. No really, I won't even get annoyed at the people just like parroting things or whatever like I usually do.
It doesn't matter what you can do--what matters is what you will do.
The term comes from baseball - small ball is getting a lot of base hits that eventually become runs - like the Kansas City Royals - VERSUS long ball, which is a team hitting a lot of home runs.
Small ball - marathon, long haul poker (essential for multi-day tournaments)
Long ball - sprint, short term poker
So a long ball poker player tends to risk his entire stack a LOT more than a small ball player who risks a little to accumulate chips over the the long run. Small ball is the ideal strategy for big, long, slow tournaments, like the WSOP Main Event. For small, short, fast tournaments then long ball comes more into play - there just isn't time for small ball.
Inherently the small ball player will need to see more flops than the long ball player. Because of this you need a couple of skills to make it work - you must be able to have the discipline to give up and fold when a hand goes south on you. This means you have to be excellent at having a read on your opponent. Basically you need to be a skilled and experienced player. You must also have fearless aggression.
Long ball = risking a lot to make a lot.
Small ball = minimizing risk, using less chips, to see more pots.
Rayer does an excellent introduction to Small Ball and Negreanu goes into some technique overviews (BELOW):
__________________ "Most of the money you'll win at poker comes not from the brilliance of your own play, but from the ineptitude of your opponents. "
I play a lot of micro short handed cash games.
I wonder if small ball poker is aplicable for these. Or is it more a tournament strategy? I'm trying it now in the cash games but have mixed results.
Maybe because they play more loose at short handed tables?
A small preflop raise will almost always being called at these tables.
Minimum bets, no bluffs, saving the small bank on every street
That's not true tbh, having no bluffs isn't part of small ball. Not bluffing at all is just bad poker in general. If you don't bluff your value bets won't get paid off.
But to explain to OP:
Small ball is keeping the pot smaller preflop, which leaves more room for postflop play (as a 30% bet of a 1k pot is alot more than 30% of a 600 pot). Therefore you can get involved in a bit more pots. To play this effectively you must feel pretty comfortable with your postflop game.
Yes I agree it's for more experienced players and also only when all players are deep stacked in a tourney, usually at the beginning. You can't play small ball if there are short stacks looking to move all in at your table, or in a fast tourney where people more all in all the time. You will just bleed chips.
Is this a strategy more suited for tournaments? Or can I use it also for cash games. I'm trying it in short handed cash game table now. Because I noticed that I get called a lot so I get a lot of action. In this way I can keep the pots smaller and can play more hands. Not that I'm too loose. But I play the top 10, pockets, higher suited connectors, Q10, K10. That kind of hands.
And I have the discipline to fold with too much resistance. Maybe too fast sometimes.
I think I'm not good enough postflop for the small ball but I'm trying to learn from my mistakes. Have still a lot to learn :-)