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Small Ball Poker

In baseball, "small ball" refers to doing the little things to win.  In poker, it refers to doing big things.  Mainly, playing hands you wouldn't normally consider worthy of playing.

The thinking goes if you play "small hands" in big ways on occasion, you establish a reputation.  Your opponents look at you as irresponsible, aggressive, "loose," prone to playing hands that are unwarranted of attention.  This, of course, makes them more likely to go along for the ride when you're actually betting a strong hand.

Another advantage in playing small hands is that sometimes they hit.  What may be an ugly flop for those playing high cards could be a beautiful one for you playing 7-4 offsuit.

Certainly, several factors have to be taken into consideration when playing "Small Ball." 

SCOUTING

First of all, there has to be an active "scouting" of players.  In other words, if you're all just there to have fun and play without noting any patterns of play, then no one's going to care if you're playing small, medium, or large ball.  You certainly need to know the tendencies of your opponents, and they need to know yours.  Moreover, they need to have a misread on your overly-aggressive style.

POSITION

Second, position is key.  No matter which round of betting, small ball is best when played after another player has opened.  This allows you to display your "power" and let others react to it (no matter what their conclusions).  If you open or check, it makes it difficult for anyone to get an accurate read – or make the read you want them to make.

LURING THEM IN

Third, you don't really want to scare everyone away.  Small Ball isn't about winning the pot right away.  You want them to see what you're up to.  That's what makes them think and keeps them guessing.  Of course, the best of all worlds is winning a nice pot while still showing off your 7-4 offsuit.

Those who subscribe to the Small Ball method like how it confounds their opponents.  They acknowledge that there are inherent weaknesses.  For one thing, percentages are stacked against them.  But they're usually willing to sacrifice a few losses for the sake of a "reputation" which they can use to lure opponents in when you have a strong hand.