It Is Fine To Play Small Ball At Low-Stakes No-Limit
Small ball is the art if keeping pots small in no-limit hold’em unless your hand warrants a big pot. This usually means that you have a big hand but often the definition of big pot, small pot and medium pot can differ from person to person. If I were playing no-limit hold’em then I would look at any pot with 10 big blinds or less as a small pot. Anything from 11 big blinds to 40 big blinds would be a medium sized pot and 40 big blinds and more would be a large pot.
These are all generalities of course which will often not fit in to your own game. For instance in a very loose aggressive game with raises, re-raises and all-ins all over the place then a small pot may be as low as 20-30 big blinds and a big pot could be 100+. So this metric can differ massively from game to game and also from player to player with regards your definition of it.
But what is a standard definition is the concept of small ball and in low-stakes games then it is often correct to play small ball as your weak tight opponents will often give up to raises and will already have clicked the “fold” button. I think that as you go through the levels then you need a higher variance game in order to be successful but this means having a bigger bankroll to go with it.
During my $100-$10,000 challenge then I have been using a mainly small ball approach that has kept me out of trouble. This has led to small but unspectacular gains. When you play in this small ball almost “anti variance” type way then you will make money in full-ring no-limit games simply through waiting for players to make mistakes. It takes patience and discipline to grind when you play this way and the patience comes in when you need to sit and wait for your opponents or a single opponent to make a big mistake.
This can mean that there are large periods of passing money back and forth which can get to you after a while and then it could well be you that is getting impatient and making the big mistake instead of the other way around. These periods of inactivity can get to certain people over others and they can arise through either inexperience or not respecting the money and trying too hard. There are several ways to play small-stakes no-limit games and many players advocate raising the stakes of the game by raising when you feel that you feel that you have an advantage over the other players.
There is a powerful logic to this argument but keeping the pots small while someone makes a mistake is also viable as well and will actually suit a more risk adverse player. It is always advisable to play in a way that makes you feel comfortable in poker and I can never stress this enough.
Carl “The Dean” Sampson