Strategy / Small ball 2.0 according to Daniel Negreanu

Small ball 2.0 according to Daniel NegreanuSamedi, 21 décembre 2013

While in Prague for EPT10, the world #1 player in 2013 was doing color for the Main Event live stream on He had as always some very interesting comments about the state of the game, especially in regard to pre flop 3bets, 4bets and 5bets.

For as long as I can remember, Daniel has been an advocate of "small ball", which means keeping the pot as low as possible before seeing the flop. Many top players followed suit rapidly, up to a point. The usual pre flop raise went from a standard 3-3.5 times the big blind to more like 2-2.2 times. This left ample room for the original raiser to either fold to aggression or to 4bet when he really had the goods.

While the principle makes sense, we live in a fast world, where 3,4, and 5bets are par for the course pre flop. Daniel disagrees. He said in his color commentary he played the whole tournament without ever 3betting pre flop. This way, he kept the pot size under control and most important, he never gave away his real strength early.

Asked if he would 3bet with pocket Aces, he reluctantly admitted he might in certain situations. Nevertheless, the whole idea for him is to never give away information and always keep the pot at a size he is comfortable with. He did agree though that if you're playing against far better players than yourself at a table, then by all means be aggressive and try to force them into having to choose between relinquishing the pot to you while they might have a better hand, or giving you the chance to upset them and accumulate more chips.

While most players wince at the small ball thought, there certainly is a parallel that can be made with another great tournament player, Phil Hellmuth. The fact that both these great players have a similar approach to tournament play should at least make us rethink the way we ourselves play the game. Especially those of us not ranked in the top xxx in the world!

Have you ever tried such a strategy? How did it work for you? What did you like/dislike about it?

We would love to hear from you about it!

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