Small ball is an advanced style of play which was initially coined by Dan Harrington in Harrington on Hold’em series of tournament strategy books. Later this style and term gained more recognition through videos and articles by Daniel Negreanu.
Small ball poker is all about playing a wider range of starting hands more aggressively, but only using small bets and raises to save you from losing too much cash when certain plays don’t work. Small ball poker is primarily used in MTTs as opposed to SNGs and cash games.
Why small ball poker can be effective?
This style of play can be very effective as you create a loose table image for yourself. However, you should get more action from opponents when you have a big hand as they will perceive you as a loose aggressive player. They may feel that you are likely to bluff them out of the pot.
If you can play small ball poker correctly, you will win from opponents in the long run when they call you down with substandard hands should outweigh the amount you lose from making consistent bets and raises without a strong hand. This is a reason why it is important to make small raises and bets instead of stronger, larger bets.
The image you will project onto the other players at the table is a key to success of small ball concept. As we have already mentioned why this style of play is so effective is because the opponents will be willing to call you down with marginal hands just the way you have played the previous hands. So, the small raises ad bets that you may win or lose pots with in previous hands are setting you up for bigger hands later on the session.
Small ball poker can be more effective in situations where the blinds are small compared to the size of stacks. It will be at the start of SNGs and MTTs and cash games. Toward the end of tournaments, the blinds will be too great compared to the size of stacks to play small ball as there will be little room post flop plays.
The last thing you want to be doing in a tournament is committing a quarter or more of your stack into a pot with a marginal hand before the flop. Therefore, small ball would be the most effective at the start of the tournaments. It would be fine to use in MTTs, but with SNGs there is a problem in the structure is usually quite fast and the period of play effective small ball will not last for long.
The image you create will become almost worthless near the end of SNG tournament as the blinds will become great that the opponents will be forced into calling or folding no matter what your image might have been at the start of the tournament.