Keep learning and keep believing! Small ball strategy
An ode to cardmates.net
This blog post is going to be partly about cardmates.net in the introduction and the value that writing can have on reflecting on your poker experiences in real time, and by doing so hopefully help to improve your poker game. This will also be the last post I will dedicate to 'kid poker' for a while as I look at his small ball strategy in further detail to use in my own game. I'd like to begin with the qoute that Negreanu uses in his youtube instruction video: 'the day you stop learning, is the day your opponents will pass you by.'
So why the shout out for cardmates.net? I have only recently discovered this website and I'm really enjoying the communication between members and also the opportunity to write about a topic I certainly feel passionate about. My only regret is that I didn't discover this site sooner.
Writing about all things gambling and the beautiful game of Texas No Limit Hold'em and other forms of card games and the experiences connected with it can be a valuable process because it can give you clearer perspective. Sometimes while playing poker on a consistent basis, due to all the intense thinking and thought processes or ridiculous bad beats or huge wins, you can sometimes get lost because you get 'emotionally' pulled into the game. What I mean by this is that any strategies you may have previously had or goals or style of play can be thrown out the window if you play too much.
By taking a short break, as I have been doing recently to, for example, write instead, can be something that really helps sort out your mental and emotional mess and decide what you want to achieve in the game. Interestingly enough, I've enjoyed writing these posts and doing the research for them as enjoyable as playing poker itself. Ok maybe not quite as much, but definitely pretty close! In all honesty, you can't beat the thrill of the game can you? But sometimes getting off the rollercoaster ride is a good idea too!
So this post is also is a big shout out to all the cardmates members and the website itself which I think is fantastic. Thank you to all who have contributed to my posts with their comments so far. I also think the process of having written these posts and future posts will ultimately make me think about my game in a different way...hopefully for the better.
Considering poker training courses
Overall, I'm happy how I've been playing my poker this year, and I started playing again after a loooong time off. However, the other day I assessed my pros and cons in my game as a poker player, as I want to be honest as I can be with myself. If I play a rubbish I usually know it and know to stop for a while. In general recently, I've been disappointed not to make a few final tables in tournaments so I've genuinely been considering looking at getting some extra online poker training, I'm not too proud not to do something like this. It couldn't hurt to try to get a necessary edge over my opponents could it? I've already checked out tournamentpokeredge.com at $29.95 per month and cardplayerpokerschool.com - Any other recommendations of course are welcome.
I also feel that in life, going the extra mile is the way to go in order to be successful. 'Nothing was gained from staying in your comfort zone!' (As my younger brother surprisingly said to me the other day; very philosophical indeed from him, but then he is an artist).
So let me now share with you my weaknesses and strengths (I've put weaknesses first as these are the ones I should concentrate on the most) and then I will share with you some new concept of skills I got out of watching the three YouTube videos presented by Negreanu. In the video, he teaches a young 22 year old student how to effectively use his small ball strategy.
1. Sometimes I miss-read the opposition if I go up higher stakes and get intimidated by the opposition if I am not at my top level of confidence. For example, I lost a lot of money when I overplayed QQ once versus two pair on the flop.
2. I'm not aggressive enough or at least play too tightly in the latter part of tournaments (small ball strategy may be able to help.)
3. My main weakness is actually cashing out - when I do it really affects my game. Still not sure how to get around this one. I read once it is better to keep money in your account and build up the bankroll, but at what point is enough enough?
4. Still not that great at bluffing especially on the river. I usually check instead of value bet on the river if I'm unsure whether I'm definitely winning which in the long term might cost me profit.
5. Occasionally complacent if tired
1. When I'm hot I can roll really hot and make a lot of money. A few weeks ago I built up a stack of $25 to $150 in a short space of time - an hour or so, of course this is rare though and it depends on what the opposition is doing.
2. When I'm playing with great confidence I can make some great calls on the river after working out the play and judge if the opponent is bluffing or not.
3. Generally a good reader of the game I play with strong hands and vary my betting patterns to remain unpredictable
4. I'm usually very patient and aggressive when strong
5. Try to apply techniques learnt about from reading Poker books and usually to good affect.
6. I'm adaptable to opponent styles - 'plenty of ways to skin a cat'.
A potential solution
So recently, as I already said, my problem has been finishing higher up in tournaments due to a lack of aggression or proper strategy against potentially better players with medium to big chip stacks. Admittedly, I've also been unlucky a few times. Still, a few new tips and tricks could make a real difference!
Small ball strategy
From watching the video, Negreanu describes small ball strategy as a way of increasing chips without risking a lot of them. Small ball is a method where your image is presented as a maniac because you will be in a lot of hands and constantly putting pressure on the opponents for little risk and potentially big gain.
Overall, you don't need to commit all of your chips (or a large percentage) to bluff, when a smaller bluff in the right spots, notably the button, will work as effectively for smaller risk. Generally you need reasonably ok hands to do this with like K ♠️ 7 ♠️ or 7 ♥️ 5 ♥️ and throw away trash like 7 ♣️ 4 💎. Only bet preflop if there hasn't been a bet yet and the reason you need to have something is because small ball is a POST FLOP strategy, not PRE-FLOP. This is Ann important point to consider. If you bet three quarters the pot on the flop as recommended by Negreanu in the video and get re-raised, give up your hand. You will only have lost a small amount for a stab at winning another pot. Sometimes you can get lucky with consistent raises like this and hit the nuts, only for your opponent to raise big and you can win a huge pot!
Due to these reasons small ball can be an effective strategy but in order to be able to use it you do need to have some good experience as a poker player beforehand. So be warned. According to Negreanu, you need patience, discipline and poker know how to avoid big traps. Don't over commit your chips when using small ball in other words, but the clue is in the name.
I think this is an interesting strategy and one I may employ in my game for tournaments.
Thank you for reading and good luck at the tables all! I'll let you know how I get on.
Next up: Mixing alcohol with poker? Good idea or not?