• July 31, 2021

Poker Dictionary: Small Ball Poker

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“Small Ball” is an advanced style of play that was initially coined by Dan Harrington in his Harrington on Hold’em series of tournament strategy books.
However, this term and style of play later gained more recognition through strategy articles and videos by Daniel Negreanu
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Essentially, small ball poker involves playing a wider range of starting hands more aggressively, but only using small bets and raises to save you from losing too much money when certain plays do not work out.
Small ball poker is intended to primarily be used in MTTs as opposed to SNGs and cash games.
Why can small ball poker be effective?
Loose table image.
Opponents will call more often with weaker hands.
You can exploit this when you hold a strong hand.
This style of play can be very effective because you create a very loose table image for yourself. Therefore you should receive more action from opponents when you do have a big hand because they will perceive you as a loose aggressive player, and may feel that you are more likely to try and bluff them out of the pot.
If you play small ball poker correctly, in the long run the amount you win from opponents when they call you down with sub standard hands should outweigh the amount you lose from making consistent raises and bets without a strong hand. This is a reason why it is important to make small raises and bets instead of large, stronger bets.
Small ball poker benefits from players who call you down with mediocre hands because they do not give you credit for holding a strong hand.
The image you project onto the other players at the table is key to the success of the small ball concept. As already mentioned, the reason why this style of play is so effective is because your opponents will be more willing to call you down with marginal hands because of the way you have played in previous hands. So essentially, the small bets and raises that you may win or lose pots with in earlier hands are just setting you up for bigger hands later on in the session.
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Steve Carr

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