Small ball - Poker (Texas Hold'em)

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:: Poker gets bigger day by day, that's a proven fact. Crossfire-Users who are hooked on gambling have the urge to play poker to earn some money! I've decided to create this tutorial for players willing to learn a specific strategy called 'Small ball'. This tutorial is meant to be for poker-newbies as well as for advanced players. Of course there will be an argumentation about this strategy, whether it's good or not, but regarding my personal experiences it helped me to increase my bankroll a lot.

:: I'm not claiming to be the new crossfire-pokergod and I'm sure that crossfire has many other gamblers that are way better than me, it's just a support for poker-interested guys getting started!

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:: Basically 'Small Ball' is a strategy that applies constant pressure to your opponents, means you want to be in a lot of pots to make the strategy effective. Playing a lot of hands creates an specific image on the table, of course people will notice that you're quite often into pots. To others it'll look like you're playing careless, they will automatically think that you're a maniac and this will help you a lot, since your opponents will be confused and it'll be easy to steal some blinds and pots. Well, it does seem that way, but the most important point about this strategy is that you're risking less when you loose a pot!


:: Newbies tend to play preflop-poker and raise way too much, means they're wasting too much money before they even see the flop. For example if the blinds are 10/20 they tend to put 100 of chips in, that's way too much (5 big blinds) and we don't want to play like that while using Small Ball.

:: Following Small Ball strategy we will pay 40 or even 50 chips (2-3 big blinds) to see the flop. When we have the scenario of hitting absolutely nothing and when you get caught the damage is not so bad. In comparison to the newbie you've lost 50% less chips than him.

:: To be precise post-flop play is the key to small-ball success, difficult decisions have to be done after the flop. This requires some post-flop skills and experience, but with every hand you'll play you'll get better and more constant. Of course you shouldn't be a total newbie to be a post-flop player, you have to know the ropes.

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:: First of all blindstealing works out the best if you're the first to enter the pot, means that the other players already folded and you're the one to do a move. The golden rule for Small Ball is to risk fewer chips when stealing the blinds, so when you get caught you don't loose too many chips. Blindstealing is actually really important if you play Sit&Go's for example, to stay alive you somehow have to protect yourself from being sucked out by rising blinds.


Your hand: Ace - Nine (suited)

Opponents hand: King - Six (offsuit)

Potsize: 56$ / Blinds: 10$/20$


:: This hand is ideal to steal blinds with, for example we're calling 50$ to steal the blinds. That's some equal odds, you pay 50$ to win a 56$-pot. If it happens that you get called you have at least a hand with some value (an ace as a highcard). When you get called and the flop shows 'Ace - Seven - Three' you've got at least the highest pair and you can continue using Small Ball. When you've missed the pot tho, you have to lay down your hand when your opponent does a bet or even reraises your bet, but the most important thing is that you didn't lost too many chips then. Another golden rule for blindstealing says that you shouldn't try to steal with trash-hands, your cards need to have some potential. In the example we have a suited hand with Ace high, means we can get a flush or even the highest pair, ergo this specific hand has a lot of potential.

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:: First of all it's important to know that you can use your position to have an advantage. Let's take a look on another example from an earlier position..


Your hand: Jack - Ten (suited)

Opponents hand: Queen - Five (offsuit)

Potsize: 1200$ / Blinds: 100$/200$

Flop: Eight - Eight - King


:: So you've raised up to 500$ for example and you get called by the big blind. The flop comes up and you have nothing. Your opponent checks and it's up to you to do a step. This is an example where your position is an advantage and you could win a pot with a decent potsize. So your next move will be a bluff to win the pot, so you call 1/2 - 3/4 of the potsize to expel your opponent. You don't have to waste more chips, since the 600-800$ do the same like you would bet the whole potsize (1200$).

- your opponent folds and you've won a decent pot, your bluff worked out!
- your opponent calls, now you already know he might have something, now it's up to you if you do another move to win the pot or fold your hand, it's about your reading-abilities to make the right decision!

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:: Math is the most important factor for Small Ball and poker in general. Many people might say that poker is just luck of the draw, but that's totally wrong. Seeing a huge amount of poker pro's being on top for their entire life proves that poker requires skill and mathematics. I won't debate about this tho, I'd like to give you an overview how odds need to influence your game.


Your hand: Ace - Queen (suited)

Opponents hand: King - King (offsuit)

Potsize: 300$ / Blinds: 20$/40$


:: We have a very decent hand and our opponent decides to make an ALL-IN move, because he has a premium-hand (pocket kings). Altogether the potsize grew to an amount of 400$ and you need to call 150$ to have a showdown. Now let's take a look on the odds..

400$ devided by 150$ = 2,666.. = 2,66 : 1

.. even if you know that your opponent has pocket kings and he would even show you his hand you would still need to call his all-in move, because the odds are in your favour. While having these profitable odds you need to call any good hand, because you get 2,6 times more than you've invested.

:: Another keyword you should know are the implied odds. Now you don't calculate just for one stab at the pot, you actually compare the bet you do with the final potsize you could win, because you could hit something on the turn/river (you have a draw) that turns your hand into a straight (gutshot / open ended straight draw) or a flush for example. Means you invest money as you have a chance to hit something big and win a huge pot. Of course that doesn't always work out, but sometimes it's worth a try if the odds are in your favour.

The last hint I can give you is not to risk all your chips on just one hand, using Small Ball should give you the opportunity to play many hands and increase your bankroll steadily, not to decrease it to 0 with just one move. All in all I'm not a big fan of starting-hand charts and that's why I won't tell you which hands you should be playing and which ones you should fold, it's up to you to find the right mix, but as I said you need to play hands with potential and not trash-hands. I'd advise you to play suited connecters, any kind of pairs and higher cards (Ten - King for example) and so on. Hope you liked the tutorial, feel free to criticize and improve something you don't like about this post, I'll change it then if I think it has to be changed since I'm not that highly experienced as well.

Regards, virtu.
QuoteKing - King (offsuit)

unexpected ^^
Rofl just won 250$ with ur help, thanks mate
Reading, will give a review.. I have a feeling that 50/50 is more efficient than your strategy though.

Well ok, nothing in that tutorial is terribly wrong, but ... All you really say is
Quote open with 2-2,5BB raises, bet 50-75% of the pot on the flop, call your opponents preflop shove with AQs if you have the correct odds against his range

First of all the title should be Small ball - Texas Hold'em. The only Poker game you discussed was Hold'em. Small ball can be applied to any other potlimit/nolimit games as well.

These are some of the things I disagree with:

- raising 5bb or more is always wrong

This is opponent-dependant. If your opponents will call any preflop raise, then you can just open raise 500bb all-in with AA. If all players are decent, then you've got a point and I favor ~3bb raises with antes

-Another golden rule for blindstealing says that you shouldn't try to steal with trash-hands, your cards need to have some potential.

Not a golden rule at all. If villains fold anything except monsters, then go ahead and raise with 72o. Postflop potential doesn't actually matter at all if you've got effective stacks of 10-25bb - no good player will call any of your raises, he'll shove or fold, in which case 72o = A6s in terms of strength. I'd only apply the rule to deepstack cashgames with no antes. That's it.

-Don't try to steal blinds if someone calls before you

This is simply a terrible tip. Usually open-limping in a low stakes game means weak hand, raising means strong hand, simple as that. Punish them with a decent raise unless you have reason to assume they limp dominantly strong hands, or your hand is complete trash and you don't think the limper is willing to fold anything, trash or not. Example hand: 6 people limp, all have 50BB stacks. You have T8o on the button. Raise to 9bb, everyone folds. Nobody has the odds to draw to anything with "hands that have potential", and it would make no sense for anyone (except maybe the first one) to slowplay a monster.

-Positions chapter is ok...

But it has not much to do with positions. You just happen to be in position to the opponent here, it's 50/50 either that is the case or not. A good title would've been "Continuation betting dry flops", which is a good concept to include for a newbie guide! Also, which 100$/200$ game has people calling out of position with Q5o!? :D

-Odds chapter is ok apart from
"The last hint I can give you is not to risk all your chips on just one hand"
This is just wrong. Of course you'll move all-in if that's the best move. Example: You have 100$ on the table and you're dealt AA. Villain raises to 100$. You snapcall.

It's wrong to say "move x is always wrong", unless it really is always wrong... If you're playing against optimally playing opponents, you're better off quitting the game since you're not going to make a profit. It's vital to abuse the mistakes and leaks of other players, instead of following some "golden rules".

Example of a golden rule: "Always bet the nuts on the river if it's checked around in a tournament". There are no exceptions. Folding the nuts on the river (apart from AKQJT boards) is always wrong. That's another golden rule.
Non-golden rule: "Don't steal the blinds if someone calls before you".
First of all thanks for the review, I'll add your points tomorrow or even try to just make a single part about criticism and how you can play small ball the way you described it.

Of course I'd call an all-in move with AA, even if the odds were terrible, I thought I didn't need to mention that, since I call with all premium hands when someone raised quite a lot and people on crossfire are hopefully not so dumb to fold aces! I guess Small ball has just exceptions where you can argue about your next move, how to play it, how much to invest etc..

Equally I wanted people to leave their shortstack-strategy bullshit since that's not even "playing" poker, you're just acting while watching some given starthand-charts, means you're not even improving your postflop-play, because it's about raising premium hands preflop and going all-in postflop.

All in all I have to agree with you that I could fill it out a bit more, but I guess it's a decent tutorial to get started! :P

P.S.: those blinds and hands were just fictitious, don't pay sooo much attention to them! xd
QuoteEqually I wanted people to leave their shortstack-strategy bullshit since that's not even "playing" poker, you're just acting while watching some given starthand-charts, means you're not even improving your postflop-play, because it's about raising premium hands preflop and going all-in postflop.

Huh? Congratulations to you if you manage to play tournaments without ever being in a short-stack situation. Also even in a cash game, if you have a respectable 200bb and all remaining opponents have 25bb, then you're playing with 25bb effective stacks and you'll have to apply short stack strategy, no matter if you want or not.
Quotehand charts

Just no. Unless you started poker 5 minutes ago. Look at your opponents, actions, and each situation as a whole, not a hand chart.
you keep misunderstanding me, I've said that people use hand charts while playing short-stack-strategy, I personally wouldn't use a hand chart!
just so you know i didnt read a word of what you just wrote.
Copypasta ?

using 50/50, earnin millions
you might want to add that this is not your intellectual property :/
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