Sunday, June 17, 2018

6 Very Simple Ways to Play the Turn More Profitably

6 Easy Ways to Play the Turn More Profitably
Learning how to play the turn in poker more profitably can be one of the best things you can do for your overall results. And the reason why is that so many pots are won or lost on this street.

And if you really want to get ahead in poker, then you are going to have to learn to start taking away more than you fair share of pots on the turn. This is especially the case when nobody really has anything.

As I often point out, the reality of poker is that most of the time nobody really has anything very good at all (a weak draw or bottom pair usually at best).

The person who wants the pot more is therefore usually going to be the one who wins it. In this article I am going to give you 6 simple ways to start winning more pots on the turn.


1. Double Barrel the Turn More Often


The first and probably most obvious way to start winning more pots on the turn in poker is just to start double barreling more often.

What I mean by this is that as the preflop raiser, you bet the flop and then you bet the turn again. This is a very strong line that essentially forces them to have something really good in order to continue.

And going back to what I just said (most of the time nobody has much of anything), you can therefore see why this is such a powerful play.

But you can't just going double barreling any player. That is a recipe for disaster. You need to do it against the player types who often call the flop with a wide range but then give up later on.


The key HUD stats to look out for here are:
  • Low Fold to Flop CBet%
  • Low WTSD%

For more on what these HUD stats mean and how you can get them, see my HUD stats mega article right here.


2. Take a Stab When They Fail to Double Barrel


This brings me to my next point. When you are the preflop caller in position and they bet the flop but fail to follow it up on the turn, you should almost always be taking a stab at the pot.

It literally doesn't even matter what you have.


For instance:

Tight regular raises from EP

You call on the button with 78


Flop:

T62

Tight regular bets

You call


Turn:

K

Tight regular checks

You should BET


It is a serious mistake not to bet here. Your hand literally doesn't even matter.

You can't go around floating the flop loosely like this if you aren't going to take a stab at it when they show the first sign of weakness. That is losing poker.

Always remember that the whole point of a float is to pounce on any weakness they show later on. If you actually make your hand, that is just a bonus.


3. Check-Raise the Hell out of the Double Barrel Monkeys


As you move up the micro stakes you are going to encounter many ultra aggressive regulars. They literally have no concept of when to lay off. All they know is unlimited aggression.

And because most of the other players are so weak at these stakes this strategy ironically ends up working out well for them a lot of the time. Although it should be noted that they will usually pay dearly for it once they get to mid or high stakes.

Anyways, I love check-raising the crap out of these guys as a counter strategy. You should be doing the same with a wide range of nut hands and hands with some equity such as:

  • All sorts of draws (flush, straight, gutshot)
  • Middle pair
  • Bottom pair
  • Two overs

Now you definitely don't want to be doing this every time you have one of these hands. But you want to mix them in from time to time. I like to check/raise the turn against these kind of guys with a semi-bluff around 50% of the time. The other 50% is the nuts.

Once again, I am ONLY talking about the double barrel monkeys here with HUD stats of something like:

  • Flop CBet = 80
  • Turn CBet = 70

They are weak way too often on the turn. They know it. I know it. And I am going to make them pay for it.


4. Know When to Check Behind


Another mistake that people commonly make on the turn is not understanding when they should be checking behind instead of betting.

Poker is a constant balancing act of controlled aggression. You need to know when to lay on the gas pedal and when to slam on the brakes.

When you are the preflop raiser and a Nit calls your CBet and the turn comes with a throughly "unscary" card, you need to give this player some respect and check back.

Otherwise, you are just burning money.


Example:

You raise with AQ in MP

A Nit calls you in the big blind


Flop:

J84

The Nit checks

You CBet

The Nit calls


Turn:

4

The Nit checks

You should CHECK


It is a serious mistake to double barrel on this card versus a tight Nit. This player type almost always has something decent when they call you on the flop and that 4 on the turn changes absolutely nothing in his mind.

Save yourself some money and check it back.

For my complete guide on how to deal with ultra-Nitty regs at the micros click here.


5. Pot Control More Effectively


On a slightly related note is understanding when to pot control on the turn.

What I mean by this is learning when you should slow down, not because you think there is a good chance you are beat, but because it is in your best interest to play a smaller pot size.

This happens most frequently with hands like a small overpair, top pair bad kicker or middle pair. These are decent hands which do stand to be the best a lot of the time.

But these are NOT the kind of hands that you are likely to play a big pot with and wind up on the winning end very often.

This is a constant mistake that I see newer poker players making. They get into all sorts of ridiculously bad situations in bloated pots with these marginal hands because they forgot to pot control.

It often makes a lot more sense to slow it down on the turn and create a little of that Deception Value that I so often talk about in The Micro Stakes Playbook.

This will help induce bluffs or allow you to just go ahead and get that value on the river anyways.


6. Have a Plan for the River


The last way to play the turn more profitably in poker is to have a plan for the river. So many times I see people blindly call the turn or bet the turn and you know that they don't have a clue what they are going to do on the river.

This is a huge mistake. You should always have a plan for every hand you play and the real planning should actually take place on the flop.

So what do I actually mean by planning out a hand?

I mean analyzing the player type and their likely range given the board texture and the action thus far in the hand. And then having a plan for what you are going to do on future cards.

Some of those future cards will be safe for you and some will be bad. For instance, you should know exactly what you are going to do on the river when the flush gets there AND when it completely bricks out.

This is largely a skill that I think you learn through experience. However, it is something that I suggest you highly consider starting to learn no matter where you are in your current development as a poker player.


Have a pen and paper on hand if you need to and write it out at first.
  • If the river comes an offsuit A, K, Q, J or T and villain checks, then I will...
  • If the river comes an offsuit A, K, Q, J or T and villain bets, then I will...
  • If the river comes a straight or flush completer card and villain checks, then I will...
  • If the river comes a straight or flush completer card and villain bets, then I will...

You don't have to bother with all the raise scenarios on the river because they are so rare.

But you should definitely have a plan for both safe and unsafe river cards. And if you are in position, then you should also have a plan depending on the action that your opponent takes as well (check or bet).


Final Thoughts


Learning how to play the turn more profitably is a crucial skill in your development as a poker player. If you are currently having trouble winning at the lower stakes, then I would seriously consider leak checking this street in particular.

In my experience playing at the lower stakes many players make the mistake of either being way too aggressive or way too passive on the turn. They also often don't have a coherent pot control strategy or a plan for various river scenarios.

Hopefully some of the tips listed above in this article will help you play 4th street a little bit better!

Make sure you pick up a copy of my free poker guide to learn my complete strategy for the micro stakes from preflop to the river.


Let me know in the comments below how you play the turn in poker. Do you have any tips of your own?

6 Easy Ways to Play the Turn More Profitably

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

My New Poker Strategy: Less Tables, More Study

My new poker strategy
Let's face it, poker has changed a lot over the years. This is especially true for the online version of the game.

I can still remember the "good old days" when I could hop on 12+ NL100 tables on PokerStars and be able to literally print money at $100+ an hour almost in my sleep.

I think I and several others thought it would last forever. This was pretty naive thinking looking back now. People were eventually going to get better, learn the game, and fish would go broke.

But regardless, we all have to adjust to the new reality of online poker now. And it's not easy!

Most players these days at decent stakes like NL100 take the game seriously now. Often they even study on the side, use HUDs and so on. And most importantly of all, it is very rare to encounter totally clueless fish anymore at these stakes.

So this means that we need to change our approach as well. I have made several adjustments to my poker strategy in recent years which have allowed me to remain profitable in the changing poker environment.

I am going to discuss several of them below in this article.


Play Less Poker Tables


The first and most obvious adjustment that I had to make in my poker strategy was to start playing less tables. And I mean A LOT less.

This was a difficult adjustment for me especially because I have always prided myself on being one of the sickest grinders around.

My New Poker Strategy

My approach when I coming up in this game was that some of them might be better than me but none of them will ever outwork me.

In fact I attribute much of my early success to simply being willing to put in longer hours, on more tables, and ultimately play more hands than anyone else.

This vastly cut down my learning curve and allowed me to pass by my competition in terms of understanding the game much faster.

But the problem is that by continuing to play on 20 or 30 poker tables at a time I could tell that I was putting myself at a disadvantage versus the other regs who were only on 2, 4 or 8 tables.


Something Has to Give


Even if I felt that I was better than them (have an edge) it wasn't enough to overcome this massive disadvantage.

Basically, I just didn't have enough time when playing this many tables to really think through decisions and find the most optimal lines to beat them. And they of course absolutely DID have that luxury versus me.

So I started seeing my winrate slip quite a bit and I knew that I had to make a change. I could tell that many of the better regs were specifically exploiting the fact that I was a mass multi-tabler who was forced to take predominantly ABC lines.

This is something that I didn't need to worry about in the beginning because most of my competition were frankly really bad and had no clue what they were doing. However, the times have changed and you only see this at NL2 now these days.

So the bottom line was that I had to drop the table count considerably in order to compete with the best regs in my games. So for several years now I almost never go above 8 tables anymore and 4 is usually my bottom.


Table Selection


Another hidden advantage of this massively reduced table count was the ability to table select much more effectively as well.

Again, the poker environment was much different 5-10 years ago. I didn't have to worry about this so much. I could just hop on a bunch of random tables at the micros and expect them to usually have one or two fish on them.

This just isn't the case anymore today at any of the popular poker sites unless you are playing NL2. If you play at any kind of decent stakes you are much more likely to hop on a table full of tight multi-tabling regulars.

Now this doesn't mean that they are all world-beaters. Far from it. Many of them are still pretty bad. But the big difference is that they aren't bleeding money on a massive scale like the fish do.

So by significantly reducing the amount of poker tables I have given myself the time to check every table for a fish (VPIP 40%+) and to leave if I don't see one.

I also have the time now to always have one eye on the lobby so I can look for the recreational players who I have previously tagged and look for new tables as well which might have fish on them.

Table selection is just a part of the job in today's games in my opinion. People who aren't doing this (and site selecting as well), are simply going to be left behind.


More Time on Poker Study


The next major adjustment I have made in my poker strategy in recent years is that for the first time ever I am spending a lot more time (and money) on poker study.

Back in the day there really was no need. Plus almost all of the material out there was pretty ridiculous anyways.

10+ years ago all we had were archaic books written by aging live pros who likely have very little to no experience with the online version of the game.

But in the past 5-10 years in particular there have been several modern poker books released. And for the first time ever they were written specifically by online poker players for online poker players.

I know especially well because I have written 3 of them myself!

My New Poker Strategy
Finishing up my latest book "The Micro Stakes Playbook" last year from my Bangkok condo.


Secondly, we have also seen the rise of several modern video training sites recently which I think are finally offering comprehensive top quality poker strategy advice for today's online games.

First among these has been Upswing Poker. I have taken 3 of their courses already this year and I have written a review for each of them here on my blog as well.

The Upswing Poker Lab was the one that helped me the most at the lower stakes. You can find my full review of this poker course is right here.

What they are doing differently from training sites in the past in my opinion is offering you a comprehensive program (a step by step course) which really helps brings everything together into one coherent system.

All of the instructors being world class pros obviously helps tremendously as well.


Out With the Old, In With the New


Training sites in the past by contrast mostly just offered a never-ending supply of individual "Hey, watch me play poker and talk about it for 45 minutes" videos.

The problem was that these didn't really offer much direction for the viewer beyond the specific poker situations that happened to pop up in that one video.

This is not even to mention how unbelievably boring they could be as well if no big hands happened!

I know all of this very well because I made over 100 of these types of videos for a major training site in the past. I was/am a longtime coach (now inactive) at the popular training site DragTheBar.com.

People still watch my videos there and send me comments to this day, but I always felt there was something seriously missing with this approach to teaching the game.

The Upswing Poker Lab has finally changed that outdated model forever in my opinion by instead offering a step by step structured course, filled with targeted theory videos, and taught by world class pros.

Bottom line, if you want to stay ahead in today's ever changing poker environment, you need to be constantly upgrading your skill-set or you will get left behind.


Final Thoughts


The poker landscape has changed a lot in the past 5, 10 and 15 years.

This is a game that will leave you behind if you do not learn how to adapt and constantly change with it. Now, of course this doesn't mean that some things don't stay the same.

Some strategies will always remain evergreen.

For instance, the same basic strategies that I used to crush the fish and beginners at NL2 online 15 years ago are still largely the same today.

But against thinking opponents at any kind of decent stakes these days you really need to know what you are doing in order to succeed.

This requires a commitment to staying up to date on the latest poker strategy. This also requires that you lower the table count in order to have the time to make better poker decisions and table select.


Let me know what poker strategy is working for you in today's games.

If you found this article helpful in any way do me a quick favor and give it a "Like" or a "Tweet" below. Thanks!

My New Poker Strategy

Monday, June 4, 2018

What is a Good Poker Hourly Rate? The Real Numbers

Good poker hourly rate
Last week I wrote about what is a good poker winning percentage. But something else that people often ask me is what is a good poker hourly rate.

Now as I often say, poker is not like a regular job where you can expect to just show up and earn a fixed income. In poker some months you will be up and some months you may even be down.

Yes, you heard that right. Lose money.

I don't know of any other job out there where you can show up for work and at the end of the month the boss says that you need to give him money!

That is how poker works sometimes though, even for the very best players in the world.

So before I even get into this you need to know that there really is no such thing as a poker hourly rate. This just isn't how the game works.

But I know by now that no matter what I say here most people don't care and they will keep asking me this question anyways. And they want to know the exact numbers too!

So I will provide some wild speculations below on what is a good poker hourly rate.


Poker Hourly Rate at the Micros


This poker blog is mostly about the micro stakes so I will start there.

When I talk about the "micros" I am referring to low stakes game from 1c/2c blinds all the way up to 50c/$1 online. That is the $2 max buyin game to the $100 max buyin game. Also known as NL2 and NL100 respectively.

And if you are a live poker player then I am referring to $1/$2 and $2/$5 games here.

The common denominator between all of these stakes is that you find a lot of bad poker players and even outright beginners sometimes as well.

So you can often create some very high winrates in these games. However, since the amount of money that you are playing for is so small, the hourly earnings aren't exactly amazing.

This is why I often also say, nobody gets rich at the micros!

But not everybody who is reading this lives in expensive countries in Western Europe or North America. So it is very possible for many people to make a reasonable hourly rate from poker even at the micro stakes.


Table Count is the Key to Increasing Your Poker Hourly


Now before I get into the actual numbers I want to say that table count is really the biggest determining factor here.

Somebody who plays 12 tables at a time (online of course) is simply going to have much higher poker hourly earnings than somebody who only plays on 1 or 2 tables.

And the guy on 1 or 2 tables might even be a better player with a higher winrate (measured in big blinds won per 100 hands online). But the guy playing 12 tables at a time will still make substantially more in the end.

The reason why is because he is playing a much higher level of volume. He is simply getting in way more hands. And the reason why this matters is because in the end poker is really just a numbers game.

good poker hourly rate

Most pros like myself have played millions and millions of hands in order to let this numbers game play itself out over massive sample sizes. Amateurs on the other hand worry and fret over their day to day results.

The other thing is that most of the best online poker sites these days also have some form of rakeback or bonus system. And even though there has been some change in recent years, these reward systems have notoriously over-rewarded the high volume players.

The most famous example was over at PokerStars, the largest online poker site in the world. For years and years they heavily rewarded high volume players and inadvertently spawned an entire generation of what became known as "rakeback pros."

These were guys who didn't even win at poker tables. In some cases they were actually losing poker players.

But they made so much money in rakeback and bonuses by mass multi-tabling day in and day out that they ended up with large profits in the end, often well over 6 figures.

Now the point of all this isn't to advise you to learn how to play 24 tables at a time and grind like a maniac every day. Trust me, I have been there and done that and I don't really recommend it anymore these days.

But at the same time you do need to realize that if you are only able to play 1 or 2 online poker tables at a time, then there is no way that you are going to come close to hitting the hourly earnings listed below.


Good Poker Hourly Winnings at Low Stakes


So with the poker hourly rates below I will be assuming a moderate amount of multi-tabling of between 8 and 12 tables.

I will also be factoring in some conservative levels of rakeback and bonuses. This doesn't amount to much in micro stakes games like NL2, NL5 and NL10 but by NL25, NL50 and NL100 it can start to add up if you play a lot.

I will also be assuming that your poker winrate is in the elite top 5%-10% of players. These are the people who beat the games for the very highest winrates possible.

Keep in mind that most people actually lose at poker in the long run (i.e. their poker hourly rate will be a negative number).


NL2 - $4 an hour

NL5 - $7 an hour

NL10 - $10 an hour

NL25 - $18 an hour

NL50 - $30 an hour

NL100 - $50 an hour

$1/$2 live - $20 an hour

$2/$5 live - $50 an hour


So as you can see, the poker hourly rate isn't exactly amazing at the lower limits online. In fact it doesn't even surpass minimum wage in my country (Canada) until around NL25.

However, like I mentioned before poker is a worldwide game these days. In most countries on earth $7 or $10 an hour is actually a very respectable hourly wage.

So this is why you will actually find quite a few pros and semi-pros even at the very lowest stakes these days from places like Eastern Europe where the cost of living is considerably lower than in expensive Western countries.

And of course if you are a top winner at the upper end of the micros (NL50, NL100 or $2/$5 if you play live), then the poker hourly rate is pretty decent no matter where you live.


Good Poker Hourly Winnings at Mid Stakes


Now of course the whole point of poker for most people is to rise up through the stakes and get to where the real money is at, mid stakes and high stakes. This is much easier said than done these days though as the competition tends to get quite a bit tougher.

In fact you will encounter many more pros once you get past the micros. These guys aren't stupid. They are playing for serious money and their bills getting paid depends on them winning. So you better really know what you are doing by this point in order to beat them.

However, if you do manage to become a big winner in mid stakes games there is certainly a very good poker hourly wage to be had.

Once again these are just averages (some months it will be way higher, some months will be way lower or even negative).


NL200 - $90 an hour

NL400 - $160 an hour

NL600 - $250 an hour

NL1000 - $450 an hour

$5/$10 live - $90 an hour

$10/$20 live - $170 an hour

$25/$50 live - $350 an hour


So there you have it!

As you can see by the mid stakes games there is definitely some very good money to be made in poker. Way above the average salary even in rich Western countries.

And I am not even going to bother speculating about high stakes here.

I am sure you can imagine how large the numbers would be there for a top winner. Also, you can start adding in all sorts of other stuff like sponsorships and book deals as well by those stakes.


Reality Check


good poker hourly wage

Alright, let's bring this discussion back to reality now.

I need to be very clear here that only a tiny percentage of people will ever even make it to the mid or high stakes games, let alone become one of the biggest winners in them.

Now of course this doesn't mean that it can't be you. But unlike some other people out there I like to keep it real on this website and not encourage all the dreamers.

The reality is that the odds are seriously stacked against you.

Poker these days is a lot harder than it was 5-10 years ago when a decent (but not great) poker player could expect to rise up at least to mid stakes and make some good money in this game.

Today these games are filled with solid pros all waiting around to devour the odd fish who steps in. And at high stakes the competition is all world class now.

Even at the micros these days, you need to really know what you are doing in order to climb up the stakes and win big. Fortunately there are some pretty fantastic educational resources to help you nowadays.

The bottom line is that the numbers listed in this article are very much atypical these days (i.e. they are not normal for most people). I want to make that point abundantly clear.

But at the same time there are people out there who DO earn these amounts and even higher playing poker. After all, somebody has to win big right?

If you are willing to work extremely hard then anything is possible in poker. But it will not be handed to you anymore. You gotta really want it more than most people do.


Final Thoughts


I hope that this article was useful for some of you guys out there trying to calculate all your future riches by getting your poker hourly rate.

But honestly this entire article was written tongue in cheek because once again poker simply doesn't work this way.

If you are really determined to make $50 an hour for instance you would be much better off going to college or starting a business.

Here is what $50 an hour often actually looks like in poker.


Month #1 - Lose $100 an hour

Month #2 - Win $200 an hour


Most people cannot handle this.

They will freak out and lose their minds during month #1 and tilt away their entire bankroll. Therefore, they will never even get to see month #2.

This is why so few people even win at all in this game over the long run. They can't handle the swings.

This is the real nature of poker though. There is no such thing as an hourly winrate in this game. Poker instead is just a constant series of ups and downs.

Your only real goal should be to have more ups than downs over the long haul. Again, real poker players, pros, don't obsess over the money. That's what amateurs do.

If you take this game seriously then I would advise you to stop worrying about the money right now and start focusing instead on the things that you actually control.

And that is putting in the long hard hours both at the tables and away from them and challenging yourself to get better every time you play.

I also didn't write this article to be a complete killjoy either though. The facts are that there are people like me out there who have made a lot of money in this game.

And it allows me to travel the world and live a life of complete freedom. I wouldn't trade this for anything. But make no mistake, you have to work for it these days.

Make sure you pick up a copy of my free poker strategy guide to learn how.


Let me know your thoughts below on what you think a good poker hourly rate is.

Good poker hourly rate

Monday, May 28, 2018

What is a Good Poker Winning Percentage?

Good Poker Winning Percentage
People often ask me what is a good poker winning percentage. This refers to the percentage of the time you play poker where you can expect to walk away from the tables with a profit.

Or to "book a win" as some might say.

Because as you probably know, losing sometimes is inevitable in poker. No matter how good you are at poker, some days there just isn't anything you can do to win.

They have the higher flush, the better pair, they hit that miracle river card yet again. I am sure you know the drill!

So how often can you expect to book a win though when you play poker? What is a good poker winning percentage these days?

I am going to cover it all in this article, stake by stake. And then I will also discuss live poker winning percentages as well.


NL2 Good Poker Winning Percentage


NL2 refers to the 1cent/2cent blind games online. These are the easiest online poker games to beat because it is the very lowest stake.

Therefore, you will often encounter complete beginners who are playing online for the first time. And sometimes they barely know the rules of the game.

Even the so called "regulars" are largely very new to poker and have massive glaring leaks in their game in so many areas.

So you can maintain a very high winrate in these games which ultimately means that you will have a very high winning percentage as well.

In NL2 a good poker winning percentage is 90%.

So what this means is that one of the very best players in this game can expect to walk away from the tables with a profit about 9 out of 10 times they play.

When I used to produce some of the highest winrates ever recorded in this game many years ago, I would actually almost never have a losing day. Maybe 2 or 3 losing days a year.

In other words my winning percentage at NL2 was something like 99%. People often ask me why I played so many hands at these low stakes.

Well, poker is a pretty fun game when you virtually never lose!


NL5 Good Winning Percentage


At NL5, which is the 2cent/5cent blind games, the winrates drop sharply though. As I have discussed before, the biggest relative skill difference in all of online poker exists between NL2 and NL5.

And the reason why is because NL2 is kind of like Kindergarten. It is the beginner's game. NL5 is for people who actually have some clue what they are doing though. They have "graduated" on up to it after all.

So there tends to be far less total beginners and far less totally clueless recreational players and weekend drunks.

This means much lower winrates and much lower winning percentages. Now don't worry though as you will notice that I used the word "relative" above.

With a solid understanding of the basics anyone can still beat NL5 pretty easily these days. And anyone who plays any kind of real higher stakes would quite simply laugh at anyone calling NL5 a hard game to beat.

In NL5 the very best players can expect to have a poker winning percentage of around 70%.


NL10 Good Winning Percentage


By NL10 (5cent/10cent blind game) the opposition gets a little bit better once again. Now most people have graduated past two levels.

So the regulars have a few more tricks up their sleeve. They are able to read hands a little bit better and they are starting to understand and think about poker in terms of ranges instead of individual hands.

There is also typically quite a bit more aggression both preflop and postflop which makes it harder to isolate the fish and run over the weaker regs.

The very best NL10 players can expect to have a session winning percentage of around 65%.

In other words, they will book a win 2 out of every 3 sessions they play. Still not too bad.


NL25 Good Winning Percentage


Once again there is another skill jump once you make it to the NL25 or 10cent/25cent blind game. This is the first level of online poker where you can realistically make a considerable amount of money like $1000 a month.

Therefore, you start to see some of the first pros at this stake. And that means that they actively study the game and are very serious about winning.

They are not only thinking about poker in terms of ranges now but also about how to balances their ranges and possibly exploit you as well.

This is still the micros though, so most players have many glaring weaknesses in their game even at NL25. But your win ratio will continue to drop nonetheless.

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.

This is the because the impact of the rake diminishes and the very best players will be able to beat these games online for somewhere around 4-6bb/100 over the long term.

This means that they will have a poker session winning percentage once again approaching something like 60%.

With these numbers though, you can probably see just how swingy the life of a professional poker player (or semi-pro) will be at these limits. They are only booking a win a little greater than a coinflip.

Now of course there are other things like rakeback and bonuses that can help prop up that winrate and turn more sessions into winning ones.


Downswings and Variance Can Change Everything in Poker


But I hope the point remains clear nonetheless. It is only at the very lowest stakes online that you should realistically expect to walk away from the poker tables with a profit on most days.

Once you get to higher stakes the players improve considerably and the idea of losing something like 5 or 10 sessions in a row is a completely normal occurrence.

In fact, this can happen at lower stakes as well. Many people drastically under-estimate the impact of variance in this game. All the of the numbers that I listed throughout this article are just averages.

It does not mean that you will always win X% of the time. Sometimes you can hit a bad downswing and have trouble booking a single winning session for weeks on end.

You need to be prepared for this no matter what stakes you are playing.


Good Live Poker Win Ratio


Now I am definitely not a huge live poker expert but having played in my fair share of $1/$2 and $2/$5 games around the world before, I know that the action is typically pretty loose and the skill level is often comparable to NL2 online or a soft NL5 game.

Therefore, I think one of the very best low stakes live poker players could realistically expect to walk away a winner as much as 80% of the time. 


Disclaimer!

Now please note though that throughout this article I have only been talking about the very biggest winners as I have mentioned several times.

So the very biggest winners in live poker (which is about 5-10% of the player pool), will have a poker session win ratio of 80%.

If you are only a slightly above breakeven player over the long run (which is a much larger segment of the player pool), then your poker win ratio will be nowhere close to 80%. It might be as little as 55% or 60%.

And of course if you aren't a long term winning poker player yet (this is the majority of the player pool), then your session winning percentage will be below 50%.


Final Thoughts


I hope that this article helps some of you guys get a better idea of what a good poker winning percentage is these days in both online poker and live poker.

To be honest I get emails about this kind of thing all the time and that is why I decided to write this article and throw a bunch of numbers out there.

But when you really think about it, it's pretty silly.

The reason why is because poker just isn't a game where you can plan out exactly how much you are going to earn and when you will get it like in a regular job with a fixed salary.

Poker in reality is a never-ending series of ups and downs even if you are a pro. You simply cannot control your short term results. They will always be all over the place.

Your long term poker winnings on the other hand is something that you can control. But even still that will depend heavily on your skill level, work ethic, discipline and emotional control among other things.

This is why I always suggest that you simply focus on improving your game and consistently making good decisions at the poker table. If you do this, then the results will come in time.

Lastly, if you want to know my complete strategy on how to crush the micro stakes, make sure you pick up a copy of my free poker strategy guide.


Let me know your thoughts on a good poker winning percentage in the comments below.

Good poker winning percentage

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

When to Cash Out in Poker (5 Step Strategy Guide)

When to cash out in poker - poker cash out strategy
Knowing when to cash out in poker is almost as important as having the right bankroll. Much like you can't out-train a bad diet, you can't out-play a bad poker cash out strategy.

People who do not know when to cash out often end up harming their progress at the poker tables considerably. So it is vitally important that as a winning poker player you understand exactly when and why you should be cashing out.

My 5-step "cheat sheet" below will guide you through the process of creating a good poker cash out strategy that works for you.


1. Define What Type of Poker Player You Are


The first thing you need to do is define who you aspire to be in this game. Are you a professional poker player? Do you play as semi-pro? Or do you play completely for fun?

Your cash out strategy is going to be wildly different depending on which one of these you are.

A professional poker player will make regular cash outs to pay for his expenses. A semi-pro will cash out once in awhile to supplement his income. And a recreational player will only make cash outs to fund some luxury purchase.

But there is one cardinal rule that I always advise no matter what type of poker player you are. And that is to never make a cash out because you need the money.

This is a major no-no in poker. And the reason why is because this is what your day job is for. Or if you are a professional poker player, then it is your savings.

That is the money you should be relying on to pay for your bills, expenses, purchases and so on. You should never dip into your actual poker bankroll because you need to pay for something in your day to day life.

Note: I am referring to your poker "bankroll" here, not your poker profit. You absolutely will be cashing out your profit and I will explain that in detail below.


2. Define Your Poker Goals


The next thing you need to do is define what your goals are in poker. Do you have dreams of climbing up the stakes and challenging the best in the world at the nosebleeds with millions of dollars on the line?

Are you happy making it to mid stakes and grinding out a less impressive but still sizeable amount of money on the side or as a pro?

Or do you just play this game mostly for fun and mess around at the micros hoping to make around $1000 a month or so?

The answer is different for everybody here.

However, if you want to aggressively move up and get to the highest stakes in this game then the cash out strategy is very simple - Don't cash out.

And this is because every time you make a cash out you are just moving yourself further away from having the bankroll for the next limit.

This is a huge mistake that many people make that ends up harming their progress for years and years and they don't even realize it.

Like most things in life, you can't really have it both ways. If you want to make a lot of cash outs then you are going to hold yourself back in this game. However, there are some workarounds to this which I will discuss more below.


3. Do Not Cash Out While You Play the Micros


I need to mention one more caveat here before I get to the actual cash out strategy below though.

And that is if you currently play at the micro stakes (NL2 through NL50 or $1/$2 to $2/$5 live) then I would highly suggest that you do not cash out at all.

And it doesn't matter what type of poker player you are or what your goals are. The reason why is because cashing out regularly while playing at stakes this low is truly bankroll suicide.

You just aren't going to be able to make enough at these limits to justify regular cash outs. And consistently removing such a large portion of your bankroll will massively harm your progress in this game.

Now I do understand that there are some people who make a living playing poker at the micros these days.

As I have discussed before, in places like where I live in Thailand the cost of living is much lower than in most western countries. This attracts many people to come here and grind the micros on a beach somewhere.

Even in cases like this though I would highly advise to cash out only the bare minimum that you need and focus more on bankroll building and moving up the stakes.

Because let me tell you from first hand experience, it isn't so glamorous to be grinding the micros for years and years on end.

Your goal in this game should be to move up past the micros and on to mid or high stakes if you intend to make a career out of this.


4. Poker Cash Out Strategy at Mid and High Stakes


Mid stakes though (NL100 - NL1000 online, $5/$10 to $25/$50 live) is when you can finally start making some decent money in this game. I am talking thousands of dollars per month with regular play.

I personally went pro many years ago when I reached NL100 online. This is the 50c/$1 game with a $100 buyin. I was consistently making around 3k - 5k most months playing in my spare time each night.

This was considerably more than I was making at my day job working in an office so it became pointless for me to keep that job anymore.

And now of course if you manage to make it to high stakes some day (NL2000+ online, $50/$100+ live), and consistently win, then you probably don't need cash out advice in the first place. You will need investment advice instead.

So supposing you make it to NL100 or higher, and depending on the poker site that you play on, you might be able to make hundreds or even thousands a month through rakeback.

I would definitely suggest cashing out ALL of the rakeback each month because that can almost be looked as the interest on your principal (your bankroll). Rakeback is essentially free money that you get just for playing the game.

But you can also cash out a certain percentage of your winnings as well and still progressively move up to higher stakes. Now the percentage of your winnings that you cash out is subjective and totally up to you.

online poker cash out strategy

However, I would suggest not going any higher than 50% of your profit at the poker tables though. So for instance, your poker profit for the month is $10000. You can cash out anywhere up to $5000 of this.

And of course what this means also is that if you have a losing month, then you do not make a cash out that month.

This will allow you to continue to grow your bankroll and progressively move up to higher stakes games while still paying your bills through your profit.

As a professional or semi-professional poker player you should also have a large amount of savings that you can use during losing months to cover your expenses as well.

The bottom line is to cash out from your rakeback and profit starting at mid stakes (NL100+). But leave some of the profit in your bankroll (~50%) in order to continue climbing up the stakes.

Disclaimer: If you are totally fine playing NL100 or NL200 forever and not moving up (some people are), then you can of course ignore this advice and just cash out 100% of your profit each month.


5. Cash Out Your Poker Winnings Once a Month


The last thing that I would recommend is only cashing out your poker profit once a month, at the same time, assuming you won in that month of course.

By only cashing out once a month you make it just like a regular job where you just go to work each day and you don't focus on the results (your paycheck).

Some months your paycheck might be really big, 10k+. Some months it might be nothing at all. It's all the same for you as a pro or a semi-pro though.

Because you will clearly understand by this point that this is simply the way that poker works.

Poker is a constant and never-ending series of ups and downs. The entire goal of the game is to simply have more ups than downs. This is how winning players think about poker.


Poker Tools and Poker Education


It was mentioned in the comments below that poker tools and poker educational resources might be an exception to the advice above. And I agree with that.

I do think that it is fine to invest in tools such as PokerTracker/Hold'em Manager, poker courses, poker books or even a coach, if you feel that these will lead to better results.

Ideally of course you would want to use your poker winnings to pay for these. But if you have been struggling at the poker tables for a long time, and you aren't winning yet, then it makes no difference anyways.

You should do whatever you need to do to start turning a profit. And if that means dipping into your bankroll to invest in the tools and education that will get you there, then so be it.

For a complete listing of all the poker tools and educational resources that I recommend these days click here.


Final Thoughts


Having a good poker cash out strategy is a crucial part of your success at the poker tables. It is just as important as having the correct bankroll to play with in the first place.

If you currently play at the micros (which is most people reading this), then I would recommend just not cashing out at all no matter what your goals are in this game. The purchase of poker tools or poker education being the lone exception to this rule.

And this is because it really harms your progress. Your goal at the micros should be to simply get a solid fundamental strategy and learn how to win consistently.

Think of the micros as kind of like your poker education. Once you "graduate" past these stakes to the higher limit poker games (NL100+), then you can finally start rewarding yourself with regular cash outs.

Only in months where you win though. If you don't have a winning month then you don't cash out. Also, you should never cash out more than 50% of your total profit if your goal is to continue moving up the stakes.

Let me know your thoughts below on when to cash out in poker. What kind of cash out strategy do you use?

When to cashout in poker