Small ball vs. long ball in heads-up poker

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Posted on: June 18, 2020 6:20 pm EDT

A good poker strategy implies understanding all the different angles

When playing heads-up games of poker, the strategy is different than when playing in a table full of people. A common question among players is whether to take a “small ball” or “long ball” approach when playing heads-up, with each style having its own pros and cons. There are several things to consider when choosing one of the other.

First, the concept of playing small ball style means that you will avoid all confrontations against opponents whenever your whole stack or your life at the tournament is at risk. This means that if you decide to take this approach you will try to play many hands by either limping or min raising preflop and then trying to pick up pots on the flop with small bets. Playing this style implies that your stack will be ground out slowly and steadily but without taking unnecessary risks. It is also important to consider that if you are thinking about using this approach, you need to be prepared with a good post-flop strategy because it will happen a lot.

Of course, this approach is not for everyone and if you are more of the aggressive kind of player, perhaps the long ball approach might work better. It is quite the opposite, instead of playing a lot of flops and keeping it cheap, long ball players wait for big hands to attack with big bets. This means that a long ball player will build his stack on one opponent’s stack at a time. For a successful play, you need to also be good at post-flop action while making an effort to counter the small ball player’s strategy.

There is no right or wrong in this case; for some players, one works better than the alternative and sometimes, it can be a combination of both. The idea is to find the best combination that works for you when playing in a heads-up table.