Learn to Win More Playing Small Ball Poker

Last updated on : 25 Jan, 2021

Learn to Win More Playing Small Ball Poker

The Subtle Art of Small Ball: The Small Ball Poker Strategy

Small ball poker has become a crazy popular style of tournament play. The curator, Dan Harrington is credited with coming up with the game of ball poker. It is one of the most intermediate style of poker. It gained it’s recognition over the decades that passed. It involves playing a greater range from the beginning and more hands aggressively. Here, you only use smaller bets and raises and save yourself from losing too much money. It is intended to primarily be used in cash games. It was made popular by the poker player, Daniel Negreanu.

Small ball poker has various characteristics:

  • Playing lots of pre-flop hands.
  • Making use of small bet sizes.
  • Stealing a lot of pots.
  • Giving up easily when your opponent shows more interest.

 Small ball strategy can sometimes leave an image of a maniacal plan of aggressive players, even if you are playing online poker. The aggression falls off dramatically on the latter half if they are losing. The advantage of small ball is that it focuses on lowering the risk of the maximum payout. It typically allows you to play a wide variety of starting hand.

What is the actual difference between small ball poker and long ball poker?

                                   Small Ball Poker                                                                                    Long Ball Poker

                           Playing lots of hands on pre-flop                                                            Playing tight range on pre-flop

                                   Smaller bet sizes                                                                                      Larger bet sizes

                                   Giving up easily                                                                                          Giving up less

                            Meant for advanced players                                                                           Meant for beginners

                                      Easier style                                                                                            Unexploitable style

                                        Steal a lot                                                                                               Avoid stealing

Long ball poker is a variant where you enter the game with a tight range and play aggressively. Whereas the opposite game plan focuses on playing small bets.

How does this variation really work?

 It is considered as the most profitable type of poker variation. This is when you use the right circumstances and gain the right opening. It potentially requires more skills than long ball poker but also is more profitable than small ball poker when executed correctly. Small ball doesn’t really work well if you have a shorter stack. Small ball players are not absolutely crazy. However, they may give the appearance of being crazy due to their aggressive playing, oh wait, hyper aggressive playing.

 Small ball poker has its own implied odds. After the first two betting rounds, it dramatically changes towards taking advantage of implied odds. After you make a strong hand, small ball players look out to bet aggressively for larger sizes and hoping to generate a payoff if they have lost. The initial investment is less, but the pot is bigger. Small ball players take advantage of these implied odds.

How do you play small ball poker anyway?

  • Open raise big: Small ball players usually take the opportunity to pick the pots at pre-flop. However, don’t try to force that action on them. Keep in mind that an intelligent person steals spots. He will never play a blind with aggression. Small ball players occasionally widen their raising ranges from their position. They can get aggressive when they are in a late position.

  • Be vigilant about cheap flops: Small ball players love to see through you. Intelligence is very well played, and some spots are better than others for defending these wide ranges. Big blind is an essentially favorite spot which usually guarantees cold calling. Small ball players would get comfortable defending their big blinds with aggression. But they cannot help us wait for cheap flops to win the pot.

  • Grab the opportunity to steal a cheap post-flop: Small ball players don’t typically raise big bluff, they always look out to pick up the cheapest pots. They continuously fire their bets on many flops even when it is completely missing. The opponents show interest in the pot and give up immediately. Small ball players always look out for the best price on their bluff.

  • Big pots with the best: Small ball players are considered crazy. The opponents might assume that since they are playing crazy aggressive on the flop and turn, they all continue the aggression on the later streets. However, the only time they look is for a larger pot.

No no’s in small ball poker!

  • Playing in short stacks.
  • When your opponents are actively trying to counter your approach.
  • Don’t exploit your opponents by deviating.

Problems that you theoretically face with small ball poker:

  • Too many hands are played on pre-flop.
  • Lack of aggression in players.
  • Overly strong betting and raising ranges.

How is small ball poker effective?

  • Your opponents will call more often with weaker hands
  • You can exploit when you have a strong hand.
  • Lose your table image.
  • It can win you bigger pots on smaller bets.
  • You can exploit your opponents by betting less. This would instigate him.
  • You can win a pot if your cards are monster cards.

There are a few tips I would like to share about small ball:

  • You can play as much as you want depending on your position.
  • You need to learn how to play your bet on post-flop.
  • You need to learn good starting hand selection.
  • When you are playing weaker hands in the beginning, play them only if they have drawing attention.
  • Try taking advantage of your position on the table.
  • Save your raising for when you are closer to the dealer, and there are literally no players.
  • It is easier to outplay your opponents if they are less in number.
  • You have to be experienced to be able to make yourself bankable on this playing style.

How to play small ball poker?

 It is technically super exploitable, why exactly would it work well? Are there any tricks you should consider to make the most effective use of small ball strategy?

 You are bound to think of such questions. Firstly, small ball tends to work in favor of players because it is based around the idea of risking a smaller amount of money in an attempt to win bigger returns. A lot of people enter the pot and inflate it. It works mostly as a result of implied odds like I already said.

Should you be worried about your opinion?

No – despite what you may feel, the average opponent is simply not going to pay you enough attention to start generating your counters. However, there are also rare cases where your opponent is actively trying to counter you with the best small ball capacity they have.

What are the pros of small ball?

  • You don’t lose a huge amount of money: The big pots are reserved for the huge monster hands that come along rarely. It’s unlikely to have a session where you have four or five buy-in.
  • You can play as long as you want: Since it is easier to implement small ball, it requires lesser mental power to use to make strategies. This means you can play longer sessions before you get fatigued.
  • Lottery tickets: There are a lot of cheap pre-flop that can catch the big monster in the game. Just remember that flopping the nuts is very rare and all of those who lived can add up in a hurry. Jackpot honey!
  • You can retain your stack: Since it’s a small amount of betting, there are chances that the medium or a big stack goes in hand of one player. Tournament players who implement small ball minimize their stacks.
  • A better variation than any: Small ball approach can be a better variation that proves that being a crazy player who is blindly aggressive and calls for no reason is ok.

Negatives of small ball poker!

  • Big hands are rare: There any chances of a monster hand. Getting a huge hand doesn’t happen very often.

  • Your aggression lakhs: Your pre-flop aggression, a small ball player, rarely acts as one. Which means limp or call happens more often than raising.

  • Playing too many pots: You would try to get involved in cheap pots which you may play too many hands for. Small ball qualification for a monster hand drops from nuts to nut flushes or better.
  • It doesn’t win you tournaments: Small bet equals to small winning. Using small ball approach is used whenever your tournament monster has come along very rare.

Should you play small ball or not?

Now that you know a little more detail about the pros and the cons a small ball, the question is whether you would actively try to use small ball strategy in your own game?

Before you make a small ball mantra, make sure you know it is going to be useful to realize that players often mean different things when they talk about small ball poker strategy. It is an incredibly rare variant to work your poker strategies that are used by players. Rather than trying to accurately produce an approach from an official rule book, it would be better if you consider the topic and improve your mechanics of poker.

When NOT to use Small ball poker strategy?

  • If you are one of those inexperienced players on the table and a bad judge of your hands in poker. You would be a disadvantage to your fellow mates.
  • Big bluffs.
  • Don’t play hands that are of the least value.

Don’t bet big for no reason.

  • You should not use small ball technique is because it can create a negative image of yours.
  • Your fellow mates might start excluding you from the game.
  • You should not create a negative image of yourself because it can affect your further hands.

The elements of small ball poker:

  • In-expensive game: Small ball key concept is to find a hand which is cheap and playable. It should also be bankable. You’re hoping to make a very big hand but it is not possible. You enable and play smaller bet at discounted price. If you bag yourself a big hand then you have got yourself a license to play big and also bluff. The flip side of the coin is that you must use hands inexpensively. You won’t last long if you were in a poker tournament but if you play their hands, you will last longer, make small connector and raise pots.

  • Controlling the size of the pot: Controlling the size of the pot and limiting the amount. When you are playing a small ball and hoping to win, your bet is of smaller size.

  • Image is literally everything: Crucial for a small ball. First you have to project or loosen a match so that the opponents are usually to call the hands weaker than yours. Secondly, regardless of how well you project yourself as weak, literally wouldn’t matter to your opponents if they are brain-dead. You better play tight aggressive poker instead.

 Raising small amounts from any position on the table with marginal hands is an attempt to recreate a small ball style of poker strategy. Playing more aggressively helps you buy yourself a position. You use your position to your advantage. Not just by playing cards but by playing your position, you can win a pot. I believe that for amateur players time to play small ball will get themselves into tricky situations if they do not play wisely. You need a good hand to be able to play this game. As your game improves, you may be recognized as lose aggressive and will necessarily be a small ball star. Daniel maybe trained a little too hard to coin a super awesome new playing style that will take over the world of poker, but at the end of the day it’s just a weak variation for amateurs to try. Head to Spartan Poker to play online poker. Play more real money poker games and get access to our VIP Club.

Related Articles

Our Testimonials

Tanmaya inverted_comma

Spartan poker is one of the best platform where tournament buyins are convenient to your pocket with good prize structure. I have won multiple tournaments in spartan poker and would like to recommend it to all my friends


Deepak Bothra inverted_comma

Thanks Spartan Poker for promoting tournaments in India unlike any other website. Also the site has started unique promotions which competition had to follow without choice and ultimately created huge value for players.

Deepak Bothra

Samay Modi inverted_comma

Spartan Poker has been providing a platform that has changed the face of poker in India. From mind blowing promotions for new and existing players as well as the widest range of value tournaments, they have been successful in ensuring the best online poker experience.

Samay Modi


Best Tips for Short-handed Poker

Best Tips for Short-handed Poker

Read More