You’ve already read a few examples of how to play small ball, but here are two key tips on how to do this:
#1 – Pre-flop either limp or raise small. You'll notice players like Gus Hansen and Daniel Negreanu limp into hands first to act much more than the average player. If they do raise, it's usually a very small raise like a minimum raise or 2.5 times the big blind raise.
They do it with a wide variety of hands and from all positions. The reason they do this is it lets them see more flops, generates action on their bigger hands, and provides deceptive nature to the types of hands they play. It is not uncommon to see a small ball player limp in early position, face a raise from a later position player, and then put in a re-raise.
If you were the player facing the small ball player’s limp re-raise, what would you put them on? Probably a big hand right? Most often it will be, but this play allows a small baller to make this move with a wide range of hands because they are playing so many hands unpredictably.
The other thing limping or raising small does is encourages action. Poker players often can't resist themselves, if they see three people already in the hand, they are going to join the party. The most important thing, however, that limping or raising small does is it keeps the pot size small and helps them to control it post-flop.
#2 – Play more hands in position. While it might seem that small ball players ignore position because of how often they will play from earlier positions, their bread and butter comes from playing hands in position and taking advantage of weak post-flop play.
For a small ball player, it is very profitable to make a bet of 300 into a 1,000 pot when it has been checked to them on the flop. Over 10 hands, the small ball player would only need this bet to be successful three times to make a profit. However, a traditional ¾ pot bet would need to be successful five times to not lose money. By playing hands in position, you give yourself the opportunity to pick up these easy pots more often because of the information you have available to you.
The Main Holdem Strategy Index: The Great Game of Holdem