Poker games have gotten a lot tougher the last couple of years. The win rates that were possible 2008 are just not realistic any more. That being said there is still a lot of money to be made from poker, especially if you are practicing good Table Selection.
The following is based on quite extensive research on various resources online including among others these:
- Pokertableratings for Cash games
- Officialpokerrankings for MTT’s (Multitable Tournaments)
- Sharkscope for Sit and Go’s
What I say here does not apply for microstakes. You can achieve significantly higher win rates there.
It does not apply to live games either. Hopefully variance is a lot lower in live games since you can read your opponents body language and manipulate them. It is also common that the skill difference is much higher than online.
Cash games: Above 2 BB / 100 is great and above 3 BB / 100 is world class.
BB / 100 is an historical way of measuring win rate in cash games. It comes from Pokertracker and the big bet in limit games. 1 BB = 2 big blinds.
Multi-table tournaments: Above 20 % ROI is great and above 30 % is world class.
ROI means Return on Investment. If you for example buy-in in a tournament and you have an average ROI at 20 % that means in average you win $20 each time you play that tournament.
Sit and Go’s: Above 5 % ROI is great and above 10 % is world class. Even at higher stakes it is basically impossible to earn > $10 / Sit and Go.
If you have higher rates than this you are probably running hot.
Many people underestimate how much you need to play to have a reasonably accurate understanding of your winrate. And there are many opinions – which is understandable because it varies with competition, style of play etc.
Personally I go by this guideline which I think makes sense:
Cash games: 30 000 hands to see if you are a winner. 100 000 hands to have an idea on win rate.
Tournaments: 500 tournaments to see if you are a winner. 1500 tournaments to have an idea on win rate.
Sit and Go’s: 500 Sit and Go’s to see if you are a winner. 1500 Sit and Go’s to have an idea on win rate.
I know, this sucks. Hate variance! When I realized this I strongly considered giving up poker. But still if you look at the graphs on the really good players who play a lot, they are consistently pointing in the right direction.
But if consistently winning money is an important concern in your poker game you have to accept these facts. Focus on the process of playing good poker. Make sure you do play good poker by analyzing your hands. Do not focus on the short-term results. You must learn to enjoy poker from the playing and not connect satisfaction to short-term winnings.
Some things to think about regarding variance:
- It takes a huge amount of time for the fish to realize they are not the shark – and that’s a great thing!
- It helps you cope with the down-swings. They are after all very natural, even for the best players in the world.
- Variance can go either way, it can make a big plus also!
- If you are a winning player, most of the time you will go plus. Maybe it is 90% likely you will be up after each 30 000 hands if you are a +2 BB / 100 player.
- If you play 4 tables of 6-max it will take less than 100 hours to reach 30 000 hands. That’s not too bad.