Friday, June 6, 2014

Good Win Rates For Micro and Small Stakes Online Poker Cash Games

I get asked about win rates perhaps more than any other topic. That or how many hours do they need to play to make $50 a day. You see these questions all the time on poker forums as well. They usually come from people who are new to online poker. I often reply with something along the lines of it depends on your skill level, the stakes and the volume that you put in. It is totally impossible for me to answer this question without this information.

Also, I take the time to remind them (or perhaps inform) that they are thinking about the game all wrong. Poker is not like a regular job where if you show up for X amount of hours you get paid X amount of money. Most people lose in the long run in this game in fact. In other words they go to "work" and their paycheck is a negative amount.

Show Me The Money!

Anyways, while these types of questions do seem really silly to me, I have gotten enough of them by now to know that people want to know about win rates no matter what. So let's get into it! Now the question always gets phrased to me as "what is possible." So let's start there.

In my opinion the top 5-10% of the entire player pool are the ones who are the long term big winners. These are the guys who are doing "what is possible." So that is who I am speaking about below. Also, I will be assuming that they are religiously game selecting (both table selection and seat selection) when they have the time for it. Elite players tend to always be doing this anyways.

Now of course the big thing with game selection is that when you are playing 18 tables at once you simply do not have anywhere near as much time to pay attention to it as someone who is 6 tabling for instance. The same goes for the quality of your actual poker decisions. This will drastically affect your potential win rate. So I will break down the win rates below into three different volume categories.

Lastly, what follows is just my opinion from playing at all levels of the micros and small stakes for many, many years. If you fail to achieve these numbers (or have already surpassed them) please don't send me hate mail!

Top win rates possible for elite players who play 1-8 tables.

NL2: 40bb/100
NL5: 26bb/100
NL10: 18bb/100
NL25: 13bb/100
NL50: 11bb/100
NL100: 9bb/100

Top win rates possible for elite players who play 9-17 tables.

NL2: 30bb/100
NL5: 17bb/100
NL10: 12bb/100
NL25: 8bb/100
NL50: 6bb/100
NL100: 4bb/100

Top win rates possible for elite players who play 18+ tables.

NL2: 20bb/100
NL5: 12bb/100
NL10: 8bb/100
NL25: 6bb/100
NL50: 4bb/100
NL100: 3bb/100

So there you have it! You can multiply these amounts by your projected daily volume to find out what the best possible average earnings per day are at your limit. You can also multiply them by your average hourly volume in order to find out what the best possible average hourly is at your limit. This is all pre-rakeback of course as well which can add up to thousands of dollars per month for high volume players at NL25 and higher.

Edit: You don't even have to bother doing the math yourself anymore. There is now a follow-up article for this blog post entitled "How Much Do Poker Players Make?" where I actually break down all of these win rates into dollar amounts, hourly, monthly and yearly with rakeback added in. Please make sure to finish this article first though because there is important information to come :)

The Let Down

Alright, let's inject some reality into this conversation now. The average win rate and daily earnings of a random person just getting started in online poker are both in fact negative numbers. Many people get caught up in the spell of the dream poker lifestyle. They have seen the millions being tossed around on TV and they figure that since they dominate their buddies every Friday night or have been "killing it" at the local 1/2 game for an inconsequential amount of hands that online poker is going to be a piece of cake.

The vast majority of them find out the hard way that it doesn't quite work like that. Let me now list the win rates that are much more common for these stakes. Keep in mind that at least 3/4 of people who play poker actually lose in the long run. So these numbers represent the average win rate that a winning player (only 1/4 of the player pool) can expect to attain at the various stakes.

Average win rates for 1-8 tables.

NL2: 10bb/100
NL5: 6bb/100
NL10: 4bb/100
NL25: 3bb/100
NL50: 2bb/100
NL100: 2bb/100

Average win rates for 9-17 tables.

NL2: 6bb/100
NL5: 4bb/100
NL10: 3bb/100
NL25: 2bb/100
NL50: 1bb/100
NL100: 1bb/100

Average win rates for 18+ tables.

NL2: 4bb/100
NL5: 2bb/100
NL10: 2bb/100
NL25: 1bb/100
NL50: 0.5bb/100
NL100: 0.5bb/100

You can pull out your calculator again and multiply these numbers by your projected daily volume and hourly volume in order to get your daily and hourly earnings. I hope this article proves valuable to all of the financial planners out there who want to know exactly how much they are going to make before they even get started!

Unfortunately though, poker doesn't actually work this way.

Your time would be much better spent simply forgetting about all of your future riches for now and instead focusing on playing as much as you can and working hard on your game away from the tables. You should aim to develop the work ethic, discipline, emotional control and dedication to continued learning that are all necessary for long term success in this game.

I am not here to encourage the dreamers who send me these emails asking about how much they are going to make. These are the people who are often doomed to fail in poker because they are thinking about the game completely wrong.

I am here however to encourage realistic people with the hunger to learn and improve to go pursue their passion for this game. People with no ego who want to earn it like the guy who I interviewed in my last post. It's fine to have big dreams in this game but put that aside for now. It is time to get to work. The money will follow.

If you found this article helpful then please do me a favor and hit the "Like" or "Tweet" button below.
Nathan Williams aka "BlackRain79" is a poker player, coach, DragTheBar instructor and the author of Crushing the Microstakes and Modern Small Stakes.

30 comments:

  1. Good post Nathan. This may be a stupid question, but why do you still grind micro stakes and not go up to low or mid? Surely you would be profitable at those stakes and you would inflate your monthly earnings?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Simon! I have played regularly up to NL200 in the past and may again one day. Right now I just grind NL25 and NL50 and am perfectly happy doing so. These are also the limits that I coach and write about so it helps me stay on top of the games.

      Delete
  2. Nice post, as usual :)
    Thank you, for not supporting dreamers, and people who think about millions $ and cars.
    I am very appreciate your posts about work ethic and discipline.
    "There is no substitute for hard work"

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks again Nathan for bringing people back to reality and actually having a real "number" to strive for in PT or HEM. That helps alot. My poker sabbatical is over and now I really know those numbers posted for the average winning player are true, and if I want to at least pay for all the software and books I've purchased in the last 3/4 years, I can't skim-read anymore; or play my lazy LAG ways. Waiting patiently for book #2.......

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks TeeGee. All the best going forward at the tables. I am midway through the second full edit on the book. Really hoping to have it out before the end of this month.

      Delete
  4. and .....winrate en Zoom ..FR ?

    Any ideia?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't play much Zoom but it would be slightly lower across the board at all levels.

      Delete
  5. Yeah I am going along at about 4bb/100 of 25 NL FR Zoom.
    I think I should be playing a lot more optimally, putting people to the test, but I am not sure how to start implementing that.
    Also I have no real life poker buddies to help each other out.
    I think I am looking for coaching on a profit share basis.

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nice work, that is a good win rate for NL25 Zoom. A coach couldn't hurt but it sounds like you are well on your way.

      Delete
    2. Spoke too soon, lol, now 1.5 bb/100 for only 10,000 hands, but regardless I will keep on trucking and keep my patience.
      I hear you are big on table/seat selection, I can't stand that, I just wanna play, lol. So that's partly why I like zoom, I guess.
      Maybe I should post again when I get closer to 100,000 hands or so.

      Thanks

      Delete
  6. From what I've see... it's not worth playing more than 8 tables because your winrate will be lower and I would expected to be higher.
    In this case... why should I even bother to play more than 8 tables ? What would be the point ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rakeback. Despite the lower winrate the hourly is often higher for mass multi-tablers when this is factored in.

      Delete
    2. I see... I play at NL10 for now, I beat NL10 and I don't beat the limit yet. My winrate is 1bb/100... but you convinced me to play a maximum of 8 tables.
      I was thinking about buying a second monitor to connect it to my pc in order to play poker at 2 screens , but now I see it's not worth it.

      Delete
    3. Well I am not trying to convince anyone to play any amount of tables in this article. I have always said in fact that people should play whatever amount they feel comfortable with. All I am pointing out in this article is that there are clear differences in winrate depending on how many tables you play. Winrate is only one part of how much money you actually make at the tables though.

      Delete
    4. You say winrate is only one part.
      There are also other parts ?
      I thought winrate is actually the only measure you can analyze to see if you improved over a minimum sample of 100k ... like you said in your book.

      Delete
    5. There are three components that affect your total winnings or hourly. They are:

      1) Winrate
      2) Volume
      3) Rakeback

      Delete
    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    7. Hi Nathan, you say you play on PokerStars. How do you claim rakeback there? They offer the annyoing FFPs only, so I think anyway.

      Delete
    8. Hey David,

      You can use those FPPs to purchase cash bonuses once you are Supernova. If you are not SN then you can play in satellites like I discuss here:

      http://www.blackrain79.com/2011/09/how-to-spend-your-pokerstars-fpps.html

      to get the best value for them.

      Delete
  7. Also... why would the winrate would be lower at zoom poker ? You basically don't have to wait for hands and you have to chance to focus on every hand very easily without getting tilted.
    Why you don't like zoom blackrain ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can't table select like you can at the regular tables so the winrates will always be lower.

      Delete
  8. Great article Nathan thanks. very interested to see the figures. I read Crushing the Microstakes last year and have been trying to employ it in my play at 0.01/0.02 stakes. I have not played many hands around 7000 to date but I am at least in profit after 12 months on Pokerstars. I'm only playing a single table and rechecking my play every session back against your strategy and making any adjustments where necessary.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Reggae and all the best at the tables!

      Delete
  9. Nice post man! Although I think that there is a decent decrease in winrate from nl50 to nl100, at least as it is from nl25 to nl50.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Willian. Ya I agree with you. The numbers are definitely a bit arbitrary.

      Delete
  10. HI Nath !
    Whats up ?
    Long time no see ?
    CAn you tell me what is the iwnrate for zoom nl10 6max ?
    Is it possible to make money from zoom anymore ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Dzift,

      Good to hear from you. This post was meant to be a little bit tongue and cheek. Nobody knows all of the answers to these questions because nobody plays all of these games at once over huge samples. Winrates at Zoom will be slightly less at all levels for my educated guesses above due to the lack of ability to table select compared to regular games.

      Delete
  11. Are these win rates for Pokerstars or across all rooms?
    I presume the win rates at stars would be lower than other rooms.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These win rates are based off of my opinion on Pokerstars yes.

      Delete