Poker Session Win Rate

Not Understanding Win-Rates/Variance. To access this content, you must purchase Poker Coaching Premium Membership or Poker Coaching Membership. The re-election rate for members of Congress is exceptionally high considering how unpopular the institution is in the eyes of the public. If you're looking for steady work, you might consider running for office yourself; job security is especially strong for members of the House of Representatives even though a significant portion of the electorate supports terms limits. The very best NL25 players in the world can expect to have a poker session winning percentage of around 60%. NL50+ Good Winning Percentage At NL50 and higher the drop in winning percentage becomes less and less. Mobile Legends: Bang Bang. For what it's worth, I'm sitting at 63% winning sessions. But really, don't look too much into this number. Hypothetical player: Plays extremely tight grinds out a small winning profit most nights, but when he gets bad beat goes on monkey tilt and drops a few buy-ins before quitting.% sessions won: probably around 60. Win-rate: -$10/hr.

Definition of win rate in poker: a winrate is most simply defined as the rate of money you win at the tables. This is shown as bb/100 which means how many big blinds you win per 100 hands.

A quick example of this would be:

  • You play 100nl - 0.50/1.00
  • You have a 4bb/100 win rate
  • This means you win $4 every 100 hands you play.
Note - Most poker tracking software like Hold'em Manager and Poker Tracker 3 allow you to easily track your win rate for each game and stake!

What is a good winrate in poker?

A lot of players get hung up about their poker win rates and this is normally due to the fact they were probably a lot higher years ago when poker was much easier. Also the ring of “4bb/100 is good” still sounds in their ears. Nowadays (2014) winrates can be seen as this:

  • 0bb/100 - Breakeven. Some players see this as amazing as they are rakeback grinders. So if they are getting 50%+ rakeback and promos they will be making lots of money from this. So high volume lots of hands and breaking even could be making them more money than a player with a huge winrate and no rakeback.
  • 2bb/100 - Great Work. This really is a super solid win rate and something you should be very proud of. Playing volume and having a good deal will make you a very successful player and put you in a spot that other players admire.
  • 4bb/100 - You are bordering on being a crusher! This win rate is huge and 99% of players out there will be extremely envious of this.
  • 6bb/100+ - Well you are almost in a world of your own now and you are one of the best out there. If you are beating the games at this level you should be grinding until your brain stops. There is some serious money being made so keep on crushing!

Something to bare in mind is what games you are playing, as well as rakeback and bonuses. These can be worked out as winrates to. You may have seen players saying “I have a 4bb/100 winrate including rakeback”. This could actually mean they have a -2bb/100 - 2bb/100 winrate and be making the majority of their money from rakeback. A pretty rough estimate is if you have a good rakeback deal you can lose -3bb/100 at the tables and still be breaking even overall. This shows how much room there is and how valuable rakeback and bonuses are.

Overall in the poker world most players lose so they will have a negative bb/100 winrate. Most winning players fall somewhere inbetween 0bb/100 and 4bb/100 with very little doing better than this. For those players who do earn 4bb/100+ they should look at moving up the stakes as they could be missing out on earning even more money at their current level.

Poker session win rates

Whats a good sample size?

Sample just means amount of hands. We need to have a big sample to see if your winrate actually means anything. A few of you reading this might have just played a session and seen you have won +35bb/100 and think you are the next Phil Ivey. Sadly this is untrue. Sessions mean nothing in the long run but its always great if its a winning session. A sample needed to truly see how good we are is 1million hands. Daunting i know but we as grinders can rack numbers like this up easily. Any sample of 100k hands + will give you a decent indication but variance can still bite us in the butt. So just sit back, learn, grind hard and when you see at least 6 figures of hands then take a look.

What else does our winrate tell us?

Once we have our winrate we can actually work out some expected earnings such as what we should average per day, week, month and even year. This is as long as the numbers stay the same. These numbers won’t give us the exact payouts we expect but they do give a solid indication.

Hourly Winrate Calcultion:

Working out your hourly winrate is simple.

  • 100nl player 50c/$1 blinds.
  • 4bb/100 winrate = $4 per 100 hands
  • A standard 6max cash game table will usually play around 100 hands per hour so this also makes it much easier for us to work this out.

= So from the above example if we played one table we would make $4 per hour.

Example of Average Grinder

  • An average grinder will be 6 tabling so we work it out like: $4 * 6 = $24. This is now our true hourly winrate (beats flipping burgers).

A few of you reading this may want to know exact numbers. So say you know you only play 82 hands per hour per table you just work it out like this:

  • $24 is our earning per 600 hands so per hour its $24/0.82 = $29.26.
  • If we are a true grinder who plays 8 hours per day at 100nl 6 tabling at 82 hands per hour making $29.26 we make 8 * $29.26 = $234.08 per day.
  • Remember, your poker tracking software automatically calculates your winrate per hour (even if you're playing multiple tables)

    Cliffs Notes:

    • Ensure you have a large enough sample size before critqueing your win rate.
    • Anything above 0 is winning!
    • Make sure you have a good rakeback deal - This will significantly increase your winrate.
    • Don’t pay much attention per session. Winrate is long term!
    • Remember variance - Our aim is to play solid poker in the long term to achieve a positive win rate!

Do you get frustrated playing poker tournaments? You play all the time and it seems like you never cash. And even when you do, you cash the minimum. Every once in a while you get teased with a deep run only to run Kings into Aces – resulting in another broken mouse.

Well as you gain experience, you learn that in order to be successful as a poker player you need to get comfortable with running bad. This is even more prevalent if you are a poker tournament specialist. But no matter how experienced you are, these bad runs can test you and make you question your skill level. This is especially true if you are an amateur poker player who only plays a handful of tournaments a week. You can actually go months without cashing and this duration of time in between cashes can skew your view of reality and affect your play.

Now if you read enough poker forums and websites you will hear about all the online tournament pros who are regularly taking down five and six-figure cashes. They paint this picture of guys constantly making final tables and raking in mounds of cash. You may even be a bit jealous and wonder, “what do those guys have that I don’t?” Well, I’m hoping this article will help answer that question and provide some much needed perspective on the topics of volume and variance.

Amateur Poker Players vs. Pros

Amateurs – For the purpose of this article, an amateur player is someone who plays about 1-3 times per week, usually at night. They have a “real job” and may have a family or are in college full time, so they can only put in part-time hours. But make no mistake, this player is serious about the game and spends time on poker forums, watching training videos, etc. Since we’re talking about tournament poker, the amateur in this article plays mostly large field no-limit hold’em tournaments. They may be a winning player, break even or maybe a slight loser in the game thus far in their career.

Pros – A professional is someone who plays online poker for their sole source of income. For this article, we are using those who specialize in large field online poker tournaments.

The Stats

Suited match blackjack free. Before reading too deep into these numbers, keep in mind that the purpose of this article is to provide perspective into your own results by comparing them to the results of other players. It is not meant to be a scientific study.

The numbers below represent an average of 10 players from each category and use results from both Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars from 2010. The pro stats were taken from 1/1/10 until 8/22/10 and the amateur stats were taken from 1/1/10 until 9/20/10. They only include tournaments with over 180 players.

# Played3557661.5
Avg Played/Day**21.53.58
In the Money13.10%15.7%
Final Tables3.13%2%
Top 31.36%0.54%
Top 3 when at Final Table43.61%28.09%
Longest Non-Cash Streak4722.5

* Pro stats were taken from a ranking of the top 10 online tournament players. Amateur stats were taken from a sample of 10 amateur players who volunteered their screen name for use in this study.

**Avg. Played/Day is based on a 5 day week, but also only includes playing 2 sites. Actual volume per day may be larger for those who play more than 2 sites and less than 5 days a week.

What Do These Stats Mean?

As you can see, the pros are not these mythical beasts who cash all the time and final table every tournament. Media attention can sometimes give off a false reality as it only highlights their wins and never mentions how many losses it took to get there.

The realities are:

  • Even the top pros only win tournaments less than 1% of the time. For some it was as low as 0.60%. So this means they are winning only 1 out of every 100 times. Of course variance doesn’t always come on schedule and they can go 200-300 tournaments without a win.
  • Top pros only final table around 3% of the time. Some are as low as 2%.
  • Top pros are only cashing about 13% of the time. This means they lose money 87% of the time they play! In fact, amateurs cash more often than pros. The difference is that when pros do cash, they cash deep more often.
  • Pros have massive downswings like everyone else. In fact, becasue of the volume they play, they have had longer non-cash streaks.

Why have the pros averaged a $400,000 profit this year before September? It is in their ability to close tournaments. There is a reason why their ROI is 58% higher. Let’s look at the stats:

  • Pros make 1/3 more final tables than amateur poker players.
  • At a 9 person final table, the average of hitting top 3 should be 33%. Pros are hitting this 43.61% of the time.
  • Of the times they cash, pros are final tabling almost twice as often as amateurs (23.9% compared to 12.8%).
  • Pros finish in the top 3 almost 3x as often as amateurs.
  • Volume, volume, volume. Let’s not forget that pros play all day, every day. This is their job. They have a distinct advantage of overcoming bad variance much quicker and also seeing “the long run” of making profitable decisions quicker.

Keep in mind that the group of amateurs used were volunteers from various poker forums. While not all were winning players, the fact that they study the game says they likely have better results than an average amateur. Also, because of their volume size an individual amateur’s skills may be better or worse than their results show.

Improving Your Game

How can you use these stats to improve your game?

Add More Tables

Get outside of your 1-3 tabling comfort zone and simply add a couple more tables. I know the argument is that it’s harder to make reads, but the volume you put in will make up for that. In addition, this extra volume means you are playing more hands and will result in improving your game even faster. This extra experience will more than make up for the short-term loss of a perfect read.

Play More Days

Just try to add 1 more day per week. Don’t be lazy. If you currently play 7 tournaments a day, adding 1 more day x 52 weeks = 364 more tournaments/year. Even at the amateur ROI average above of 20% and average buy-in of $30, that means an extra $2,184 in profit.

Stop Caring About Individual Tournaments

It’s easy to expend emotional energy in any single poker tournament. You’re trying to win of course. But the odds are that you’re not going to. In fact, you’re only going to cash about 15% of the time. All you can do is focus on making good decisions and the variance will work itself out in the end.

Play for the Win

There’s a reason why amateurs cash more than pros. They care more about it and tighten up near the bubble. But you will miss out on valuable opportunities to accumulate chips if you are playing just to cash. In addition, you can’t fear busting or making a mistake when you get deep. In order to make real money playing poker tournaments, you have to trust your instincts and play to win.

If you’ve ever grown frustrated playing poker tournaments, don’t sweat it. Keep in perspective that even the best players in the world don’t win that often. The only way to balance out negative variance is to put in enough volume where your skill can prevail.

Good luck at the tables.


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By Donovan Panone

Donovan started playing poker in 2004 and is an experienced tournament and cash game player who has a passion for teaching and helping others improve their game.

  1. Great, revealing article. Stats like these are very encouraging. Thanks, Donovan

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