There’s a maxim that says in Hold’em Position is everything. It holds true though for all forms of poker. As a new player I remember not paying nearly enough attention to the difference position made in poker. I was too interested in the cards I held in my hand. But eventually, if you’re going to make a go of hold’em you’re going to want to understand poker table position. For the moment, let’s take a brief look at how a poker table is set up, where you are in the action, and why it makes a difference, check this link right here now.
Most poker tables are played with 9 or 10 players. In the image above we’ve used a 9 player example. The important things to note at the moment are as follows:
- The person with the white dealer button is, remarkably, the dealer. The importance of being the dealer is that you get to act last in each betting round and so can see the other player’s actions before you make your decision.
- The player marked ‘SB’ is the small blind. They are required to put out a blind bet before the cards are dealt.
- The player marked ‘BB’ is the big blind. They are required to put out a blind bet double the size of the small blind before the cards are dealt.
- The player directly left of the big blind is called ‘Under the Gun’. They have to act first in the first round of betting, and are in early position.
Playing Small Ball Poker
The decision to start playing small ball poker and integrating it into an overall adaptive poker strategy is a change players on all levels are making. The style of play now known as ‘small ball’ has probably been in circulation as long as poker has. However, its recognition and emergence as a profitable form of play has been assisted through its adoption by poker pro Daniel Negron, the man also responsible for the styles current moniker. For those of us who have suffered one too many bad beats at the business end of a massive pot, it seems there might be some pretty tempting reasons to implement small ball poker into our playing repertoire.
Small Ball is an advanced poker play the primary benefits of which is the establishment of a very loose table image without abandoning proper hand selection, and the prospect of seeing a high percentage of flops whilst still maintaining small pot sizes. Significantly, central to the method is the desire not putting our stack at risk, unless of course we want it to be. Whilst the method is one which relies heavily on post flop ability, it promotes action by fostering the perception in our opposition that we are loose aggressive players constantly sniping at the pot, even though we’re looking to consciously control the pot size.
Whilst the premise can be summed up pretty simply, there are a couple of factors which mean playing profitable small ball poker requires a little brain power. Firstly, the decision to implement a small ball poker approach in any given session depends on our opponents. If we are facing a hyper aggressive table that are prepared to increase the pot size heedless of any play we might make, then we’re better off adapting a tight posture and waiting for a spot to capitalize on our opponents zeal.
Similarly, our opponents need to have at least some understanding of the way we are playing. If they lack the situational awareness to grasp the image we seek to project, this may be a limiting factor in how profitable this method of play is against them.
The real profit in small ball comes from creating a poker table image which doesn’t reflect the way we are playing, and taking down numerous small pots with marginal hands because our opponents fail to give us credit for our respectable holdings, and also pay us off when we hit our monsters. It is the creation of this table image and making narrow calls, bets and timely poker bluffs that attributes to the skill factor required to implement this method of play.
The Nitty Gritty
Position and poker hand selection are critical to playing small ball poker. We’re looking to play as many hands as possible with position, and with a range of hands that still hold potential. Suited connectors and suited gapers are prime real estate, with suited becoming playable. Our opening hands might span many of the Sklansky Groups, particularly groups 1-6, but we’ll continue to discard trash hands.
Small ball poker involves smaller than usual raises. Against the right field a raise of 2.5xBB in early position and 3xBB in late can have the marginally same effect as raises of twice that size, but the difference to the end pot size can be significant?
Pot control may also necessitate checking at some point in the hand, although logic suggests this should be against boards which aren’t drawn heavy. The benefit though of small ball is being able to evaluate your opponents’ holdings on each street without putting our stack at significant risk. Checking behind on the flop or turn can assist us to determine the strength of their hand based on their response. A check on the river can be used to induce a small bluff, or avoiding a situation where your opponents come over the top of our bet with a river bluff of their own.