Monday, May 28, 2018

What is a Good Poker Winning Percentage?

What is a 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

9 comments:

  1. ok .. so I have VPIP/PFR = 35/30 over 100k sample because almost everyday I find fishes with more than 40 VPIP so I naturally open up more especially since I mostly play 6max Is this normal to have 35/30 over such a big sample or I have to play less hands ? ...

    Apart from that I am breakeven at this point ... profit= 3 dolars at NL5 ... so basically breakeven. I kept looking in HM2 to find leaks ... excluding sessions when I was in tilt .. my mind was blown when I filtered for bet/raise only line from PF to river and I found out I made 500 dolars from that line only(by playing a minimum of 3 hours per day)... all this money was lost from blinds - especially from calling a lot due to situations where the fish raises and I call him from the blinds when I am OOP or the fish calls an open raise and I also call just to play against him .

    My first logic from this statistics alone is to just simply reduce playing from the blinds so many hands even when I have fish at the table ... like play only 10 % of hands from blinds .... am I thinking right or am I wrong here ?

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    1. I also checked in my PT that I lose money on blinds for defending too heavily on micros. So I stopped and defend only vs obvious steals or with super hand and my winrat went upwards.

      I think it would be even higher if I played only from dealer and CO and simply go afk for the rest of the round. :D

      Good luck at the tables! :)

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  2. Hey Nathan,
    There is a difference between playing 500 and 5000 hands per session. Could you have included an average no. of hands per session?

    You mentioned 4-6bb/100 over the long term, does this equate to a 40-60% win session? Thanks!

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    1. Hey MikeB,

      Ya I actually thought about that and considered including it because you are absolutely right. There is a huge difference. But I am just assuming in this article that somebody plays the typical 2 hour session online multi-tabling, maybe playing a bit longer live.

      The 4-6bb/100 is the actual winrate that I think the very best players can get these days at stakes of NL50+. Once again, this is still a bit of a generalization. If somebody who is an excellent poker player literally only played one table online and bumhunted all day long (only playing fish), I am sure he/she could do better than this winrate.

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    2. Hey Nathan,
      Thanks for your reply.

      Is it not better to stay at a 90% winning percentage than to move up? Without table selecting, a 60% winning percentage is mediocre at best!

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    3. Hey Mike,

      While you will have a lower winning percentage at higher stakes this is hugely offset by the larger amounts of money in play. The rake also becomes less and less of factor at higher stakes. So ultimately you will make way more money at higher stakes.

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    4. Hey Nathan,
      Such as rakeback... thanks for making it clear!

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  3. Hello Nathan ! I started to play again 2 weeks ago ,after 2.5 years without poker ! I don't play poker to become a pro, I have a outside poker job but I love this game and grinding the stakes is a desire for every players, I'm not different.

    One hour ago , I lost 450 BB to a complete maniac ( VPIP 90 / PFR 90 / AF 5 / after 86 hands ! ! ! ). He was all-in pre-flop almost every hands. Each time I was all-in with him, I was large favorite ..... 86% ....63% ....75% but it's poker and he won every hands.

    Fuckkkk .... Just needed to talk about it ^^

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    Replies
    1. Welcome back to this crazy game kash! Sorry to hear about your rough luck to start :/

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