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Poker School

Small Ball Poker - Increase Your Chip Stack WithoutTaking Risk

In this section we’ll cover:

Going all-in is a risky business and can wipe you out of a tournament if you make the wrong call. Some of the pros favour small pot, or ball, poker to build up their chip stack without the risk.

When to play small ball

You can make a lot of money playing small ball in the early stages of a tournament. There are so many bad players floating around the first few levels of a tourney that it’s worth playing as many pots as you can. But it’s not enough to know your opponent’s a bad player; you need to know what kind of bad player:

  • The weak tight player. When they miss the flop you can swoop in with a continuation bet and walk off with the pot. They’ll only put their chips in the pot when they’ve got the goods, so there’s almost no risk
  • The calling station. This player will call you down with almost any pair. Get involved in as many pots as you can and look for excuses to play in position. Just remember not to bluff and to value bet them into making that crucial mistake
  • The big pot guy. This player just can’t stop re-raising you. Limp your way past the flop and get into position for a pot that’s not worth stealing but is worth having. These players are perfect to outplay after the flop as they have no idea what to do from there

In the mid-to-late stages of your tourney, remember that some players will be short-stacked and desperate. As you approach the bubble you should have a good chance to play small ball against the player that really wants to make it into the money. Against everyone else, be ready to adjust.

When not to play small ball

When you’re sat across the table from the big dogs and you’re ready to go with a decent hand. Play big, raise big and force them to put their money in before they want to.