Small ball poker is a playstyle where your aim is to get involved in many cheap pots and keep those pots small – unless you hit a monster hand and then you build the pot as big and as quickly as possible. This was largely popularized by Daniel Negreanu, and to a lesser-extent Harrington’s books, and is a style adopted heavily by players evolving from fishy play.
As you watch this video or read this entire guide, note that the goal is not to insult players that use this style. Heck, I used to implement a small ball strategy, and my training videos before 2014 reflect that. Instead, the goal here is to explore the pros and cons of small ball poker and get you thinking more deeply about both playing this strategy and exploiting other players that use it.
Why Poker Players Like Small Ball
The overall concept of small ball is a mixture of three
things: getting involved in lots of cheap pots preflop, avoiding getting
involved in big pots postflop without monster hands, and trying to get monster
hands paid off for maximum value.
Your poker mindset and the way you process challenges during and between sessions is a major determinant of your longterm success. There are three kinds of poker players when it comes to the mental game. Essentially, they break down into these categories:
Range balancing in poker is the act of ensuring you have a proper number of bluffs and value hands when you bet or raise. If you never bluff, your range is unbalanced and your opponents can easily fold marginal hands whenever you get aggressive. On the other hand, if you bluff too often, your opponents are more likely to call you with any pair because your range is unbalanced with too many weak holdings.
So balance is clearly important. We don’t want to do anything too often, nor too rarely, and allow our opponents to make simple profitable adjustments.
Small pocket pairs tend to create lots of confusion for players preflop. But because these pairs are…well…pairs – players rarely consider folding these hands preflop and end up stacking up lots of unnecessary losses. To simplify this and avoid getting lost in the minutia, let’s agree to put 22 to 55 in this category. While these pairs may have some showdown value of their own, their true value is primarily in flopping sets and stacking opponents that won’t fold second-best hands.
This explanation could make one think that playing pocket pairs is easy, but that would only be true in an ideal setting where you could dictate all the action and give yourself just the right pot odds to get involved. In real-life situations, though, you often have to play these small pockets with lower stack depth or facing big raises or 3-bets from your opponents – which changes your strategic adjustment dramatically.
Overlimping, or limping behind, is the act of choosing to limp AFTER one (or more) players have already limped preflop. Not to be confused with open-limping (being the first person to enter a pot preflop by limping in), overlimping can have some serious advantages when done properly.
And while aggression in poker has increased exponentially over the years which has led many players to think that raising/isolating limpers is always better – there are plenty of spots where overlimping proves to be a MORE profitable approach.
There are three main types of betting in poker: value betting, bluffing, and betting for protection. While bluffing is important and protection is a bi-product of understanding equity – knowing how to value bet in poker is an essential part of improving your winrate whether you play ABC poker or another style. In this guide, I want to discuss what a value bet is, why it’s so important, and some useful ways to improve your value betting strategy.
Whether it’s a session of terrible luck, or months of bad beats & a dry run of cards – downswings can leave you questioning your strategy and sanity. But even though these stretches of bad luck can hurt us mentally and financially, there are some key things we can do end a downswing quicker and weather the storm.
The concept of blockers in poker has been around for a while but, until recently, it’s one that has been far more stressed in Omaha games. Lately, however, we’re seeing the concept applied more in Texas Hold’em as well. While the value of blockers may not be as high in Hold’em as it is in Omaha, they’re still well worth considering as a part of a greater overall gameplan.
Ace Queen can be a tricky hand to play. Especially as the action mounts, it can be tough to discern if AQ is strong enough to go all-in with, or if it’s smarter to just fold it and save your chips. Today we’ll look at an AQ hand together and see how our answers compare to over 1K other poker players – and see if going all-in with AQ is actually the best play…
You know the game. The one where everyone wants to see EVERY. SINGLE. FLOP. These fishy games can be extremely profitable, but preflop decisions can be confusing, especially in pots where multiple players have limped before you. Should you raise with your small pair? Should you limp behind with AJ?
Well crushing these games largely comes down to answering questions like these – and this free poker video will get you on the right track… Continue reading