You may have heard someone talking about a certain pro playing small ball strategy at a recent tournament and thought to yourself, "What is small ball?" Small ball is a strategy that is based more on seeing a lot of flops and relying on your hand reading skills to outplay your opponents. The opposite of small ball would be the home run approach, usually used by beginners, which relies heavily on winning huge pots with all-in bets.
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Many consider the small ball strategy to be difficult to master. Some pros advise that beginners should use more of a "heroic" approach to the game. This means that you should be raising more pre-flop and not letting the small baller's see the flop. By cutting out the amount of flops the more experienced players see, you are keeping them from outplaying you after the flop.
Someone taking the home run or long ball approach should go all-in more often, but not too much. Sometimes a large raise will do the trick. The small ball player wants to see many flops for cheap, take this away from him and you may have a chance.
It is no coincidence that many of the top poker players use the small ball poker strategy. It takes great skill to master, and is definitely not exciting
to watch. It has been noted that Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey, Michael "The
Grinder" Mizrachi, Daniel Negreanu, Erick Lindgren,
and Gus Hansen all play this strategy. They all prefer to grind it out
instead of playing a risky, heavy-betting game.
It has been said that small ball is like throwing little jabs here and there, while long ball is like constantly throwing haymakers. One thing is for sure. If you are a beginner and find yourself getting outplayed after the flop, start the heavy betting. Use proper judgment of course. Just because you go all-in does not mean your going to win. In contrast, if you want to be a good small ball player you should work on how to read your opponents. It is a key element to this difficult strategy.