Good Poker Win-Rates on PokerStars (2024)

Good Poker Win Rates on PokerStars

This article was written by blackrain79 contributor Fran Ferlan.

If you play poker online, your profitability is determined by your winrate. A positive winrate means you’re beating your current limit over the long run.

Your winrate can also tell you if you should move up or down the stakes.

So what is a good poker winrate these days on PokerStars?

In this article, we’ll analyze what sort of winrate you should be aiming for, as well as examining factors that actually determine your winrate.

Let’s get right into it.

1. Can You Win on PokerStars? What is a Good Winrate?

Let’s start by defining what we mean by winrate before discussing what you should aim for on PokerStars. 

In online poker, a winrate is the number of big blinds you win over a hundred hands played.

This is different from live poker, where you would calculate your winrate by the number of big blinds or dollars won over an hour, for example.

So let’s say you’re playing NL10 and your winrate is 5 BB/100. This means you expect to win 5 big blinds (i.e. 50 cents for every 100 hands played).

So what is a good poker winrate to aim for these days?

Well, this entirely depends on your individual goals, but as a general rule, anything above 0 BB/100 is considered a good poker winrate.

So why is this the case?

First of all, poker is a zero-sum game. This means that if you win, someone else has to lose and vice versa.

But to take that one step further, poker is actually a negative-sum game, meaning the total amount of winnings is actually going to be lower than the amount of money wagered in total.

This is because rake reduces the amount of money in circulation.

Rake is the small percentage of the pot the site takes out for giving you the pleasure of playing poker.

The bigger the rake, the lower your expected winrate and vice versa.

This means that not only do you need to beat other players, you also need to beat the rake to be a profitable long term winner in this game.

So if you have a positive winrate over a significant sample size, it means you’re already way ahead of the majority of the player pool.

That’s because most people only play poker recreationally, and are often making costly mistakes that are preventing them from beating the game over the long run.

In fact, I discussed the top 5 reasons why people lose at poker in my latest YouTube video.

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2. What is a Good Poker Winrate on PokerStars?

Alright, now that we’ve established what is considered to be a good winrate, let’s look at the winrates you should aim for across different stakes on PokerStars.

Let’s start with the obvious: the higher the limits you play, the lower your winrate.

That’s because the player pool gets progressively tougher as you start climbing up the stakes.

You are likely to face more regular players who take the game a bit more seriously and make less costly mistakes than their fishy counterparts.

There will also be far fewer recreational players about, which also means a lower winrate in general.

There may still be a few whales splashing chips around, but they will only be far and few in between compared to lower stakes.

With that in mind, here are good poker winrates to aim for on PokerStars:

1-2 BB/100 - Good

3-4 BB/100 - Great 

5BB and above - Crushing

These are good winrates to aim for after rakeback.

Getting a decent rakeback program is absolutely crucial if you want to maintain a good winrate over the long run.

Rakeback or cashback programs give you a portion of the rake you contribute back into your account as an incentive to keep playing on a  certain site.

However, bear in mind that these winrates are estimates at best, and it can vary wildly between players.

For example, elite poker players may achieve considerably higher winrates than those outlined above.

For example, I have some of the highest winrates of all-time on PokerStars (over 20BB/100), and I wrote an entire book showing how I did it.

But winrates on PokerStars like mine are very rare and will be achieved by only a tiny minority of the overall player pool.

Again, most players will lose money over the long run, so the actual “average” winrate is a negative number.

But these winrates are still achievable if you’re a decent regular beating your current limit.

Another thing to bear in mind is that you actually don’t want to have an insanely high winrate. 

Maximizing your winrate shouldn’t be your primary goal.

If you’re crushing your current limit over a significant sample size, it means you should move up in stakes if you’re sufficiently bankrolled for the higher limit.

Check out my full bankroll management guide to find out exactly how much you need for each stake.

However, the “significant sample size” is the key phrase here.

Just because you’re “crushing” your current limit over 50 thousand hands, it doesn’t mean you’ll be able to maintain the same winrate at the higher stakes.

In fact, when moving up the stakes, you can expect your winrate to be cut in half.

We’ve already established the reason for this: tougher opponents and less recreational players at higher limits.

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3. What is a Good Winrate at Lower Stakes On PokerStars?

When playing at the lower stakes on PokerStars you can expect to have a higher winrate due to the fact that the games are likely to be a lot softer than at the higher stakes.

The very lowest stakes would include games like NL2, NL5 and NL10.

This means the games with the maximum buyin of $2, $5, and $10, respectively.

I have already written complete guides for how to crush all three of these games on PokerStars by the way.

Here are some good winrates in these games:

3 BB/100 - Good

5 BB/100 - Great

10 BB/100 and above - Crushing

The reason you can expect a higher winrate at these stakes is the fact that these stakes are going to be populated by a lot of recreational poker players.

These players primarily play for fun, and are likely to make all sorts of fundamental mistakes like playing too many hands, calling down too much, tilting easily and so on.

The best strategy to employ against these players is a simple tight and aggressive (TAG) strategy.

TAG strategy involves:

a) only playing strong starting hands

b) playing them aggressively, both preflop and post flop

c) playing most hands in position.

While these games can be beat relatively easily with proper bankroll management and  game selection, your goal should actually be to move up the stakes once you master the basics.

One of the reasons for this is that microstakes players usually need to pay an exorbitant amount of rake, which can really eat into your winrate.

As you start climbing up the stakes, the rake structure is usually a bit more forgiving.

4. What are Good Poker Winrates in Small Stakes Games on PokerStars?

For the purposes of this article, we’ll define small stakes as everything between NL25 and NL200.

These games have a maximum buyin between $25 and $200.

While games like NL25 and NL50 can still technically be considered microstakes, I think it’s important to make a distinction between these stakes and the very lowest stakes.

That’s because when you get to these stakes,  you’re likely to encounter a lot more regular players who take the game a bit more seriously.

This means they’ve likely studied the game of the felt, and some of them have probably studied some advanced poker strategy, as well.

It’s also worth mentioning that there’s a big relative skill difference between online poker players and their live counterparts.

For example, if you play a $1/$2 cash game at your local casino, the games are likely to be very soft due to a lot of recreational players who don’t really know what they’re doing.

But if you buy in for $200 on NL200 online, you will encounter a lot of tough, competent regs and maybe even some full time professional poker players.

So the same dollar amounts don’t mean the same skill level by any means.

Now, you may still very well encounter a few whales at these stakes as well, but they’ll be far and few in between.

By the way, a whale is a very bad player who is just there to have fun and splash some chips around.

These players may be frustrating to play against, especially if they happen to hit a very fortunate run of cards, but they will also be the biggest losers in this game by far.

Check out my other article on how to beat crazy poker players to learn how to absolutely crush the whales.

So a scarcity of recreational poker players at stakes like NL100 and NL200, as well as a number of strong regs is naturally going to lead to a lower winrate.

With that in mind, here’s the winrates you can expect at NL100 and NL200 if you’re a winning poker player over the long run:

1 BB/100 - Good

2 BB/100 - Great

3 BB/100 and above - Crushing

Again, some elite poker players may very well have higher winrates than these, but these players are going to be exceptionally rare.

These players are likely to be full time professionals who have put in a tremendous amount of work into improving their game.

Aside from their superior technical game knowledge, these players have also worked a lot on their mental game, which allows them to perform at the highest level despite how they’re running in the short term.

Check out my other article on traits of the top 1% poker players on PokerStars to find out what separates the pros from the rest.

This last part about mental resilience is crucial, and the reason why it’s the case has to do with variance.

The problem with having a relatively low winrate (like 1-2BB/100) is that your results can be extremely swingy over the short run.

And even the short run is far longer than most players expect.

For example, even if a player has a solid winrate of 2 big blinds, they could still go for prolonged stretches of breaking even or losing money.

This can mean stretches as long as 100,000 hands.

Again, 100,000 hands may seem like a lot, but it’s really not in the grand scheme of things.

So if your winrate is very low to begin with, you may want to consider improving your winrate first before jumping up the stakes.

If you want to learn how to quickly improve your winrate on PokerStars and rapidly move up the stakes, enroll in my Blackrain79 Elite Poker University.

To be a winning poker player these days, it takes a lot more than knowing which hands to play in which positions (although that is covered in extensive detail in video #5)

As you start climbing up the stakes on PokerStars, you will encounter more and more difficult opponents who will try to make your life difficult.

To defeat these players, you need to be comfortable playing a lot of marginal spots.

For example:

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What should you do?

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5. The Sample Size Matters a Lot When it Comes to Your PokerStars Winrate

Now let’s talk about the perils of extrapolating your expected winrate based on the small sample size.

A high winrate over a small sample size does not equate with your skill level, nor does a bad winrate equate to a lack of skill.

In poker, your short term results are not really indicative of your actual skill level.

And the reason for that has to do with variance.

Simply put, variance measures the difference between how much you expect to earn over a certain sample size and how much you actually earn.

The bigger the difference between the two, the bigger the variance and vice versa.

For example, let’s say you’re beating your current stake with a winrate of 5 BB/100 over 100,000.

Again, this might sound like a big sample size, but it’s really not if you look at the big picture.

But a sample size of 100,000 hands can at least give you a rough idea of your skill level.

So here’s a million dollar question: if your winrate is 5 BB/100, how much can you expect to earn over the next 100,000 hands you play?

If you think the correct answer is roughly around 5 big blinds over 100 hands, you’re likely in for a disappointment.

The correct answer is: you have no idea.

Your winrate could be 10 BB/100 or -10BB/100, depending on variance.

If this sounds unreasonable, I suggest you play around with a variance calculator and see what results you come up with.

Chances are, you'd be surprised by how much of an impact variance can have on your results.

Also, some game formats will inherently have higher variance built into them.

For example, Pot Limit Omaha (PLO) will have higher variance than no-limit hold'em, and 6-handed tables will have higher variance than full-ring tables.

6. Forget About the Winrate, Focus on Improving Your Game Instead

Your winrate is a crucial metric that determines the level of your poker skill, but focusing too much on your winrate can actually be counterproductive.

This is especially the case if you don’t already have a proven track record of beating your current stake over a significant sample size.

If you only have a small sample size of hands played (anything less than 100,000 hands), your winrate doesn’t really tell the full story.

That’s because variance plays a significant role in your short term results.

Even if you’re a winning poker player with a solid winrate, you can still experience prolonged stretches of losing or breaking even.

Check out my article on how long you can run bad in poker. 

Spoiler Alert: The answer is probably way longer than you think!

Now, I’m not saying all this to discourage you.

Variance cuts both ways, and you can also run better than expected at any given time.

But even then, it’s important to keep things in perspective, and not to assume that you’ve cracked the code of winning at poker, and it’s only a matter of time when you’re playing high stakes with the best of them.

In fact, this is where a lot of players actually slip up.

They run very well over a certain sample size, and they start calculating how much money they’ll make in the future with their current winrate.

Then they start figuring out how long it will take them to fire their boss, retire early, and finally go on that cruise around the world.

Until variance inevitably swings the other way, and their bankroll takes a huge hit along with their confidence.

The point is, every poker player who takes this game seriously should look to improve their winrate.

But if you don’t already have a proven track record of winning over a big sample size, worrying about your winrate is putting the cart before the horse.

Fixating on your winrate means results-oriented thinking, which is not conducive to your development as a poker player.

Instead, you should focus on the process, meaning you study the game off the felt and work to fix your leaks.

At the end of the day, this is the single best way to actually improve your winrate.

The other best way is to simply get my free PokerStars cheat sheet.

When you focus on the process, the results will follow. When you focus on the end result, but ignore the process, you’ll never get to where you intend to go.

7. How to Actually Improve Your PokerStars Winrate

Your winrate is a close, but not a perfect approximation of your skill level.

Rather than an actual representation of your skill, think of it as a snapshot of your game at one point in time.

Your winrate is going to be influenced by a number of different factors:

a) your skill level

b) the skill level of your opponents

c) your game selection (i.e. playing in games where you have a comparative skill edge over your opponents)

d) variance

e) your mental game

Let’s break it down one by one.

The most important factor that influences your winrate is obviously how good you are at this game.

Good poker players who put some effort into improving their game can expect a higher winrate than the players who don’t.

This means you need to approach poker as a game of skill.

If you think poker is all about luck, there’s no point in worrying about your winrate, anyway.

But knowing all the advanced poker strategy is not enough to just start printing money.

You also need to play better than the opponents you’re facing.

If you’re the sixth best poker player in the world, but only play against the top 5 players in the world, you’re still not going to be a winning player.

This means the only way to win in this game is to play in games where you have a significant edge over your competition.

This is where game selection comes into play, and this is where a lot of players tend to trip up.

When picking games to play, it’s important to leave your ego at the door, and only play in games you can realistically beat over  the long run.

If you’re barely breaking even at your current stake, you should probably drop down in stakes and try to find softer games.

Now, some players may play higher stakes because they want to challenge themselves against tougher competition, and fair enough.

But there’s nothing stopping you from honing your skills and trying to improve your game at the lower stakes.

When players object that the lower stakes aren’t really challenging enough for them, it’s often just disguising the fact that they’re chasing the action and want to gamble it up with more money on the line.

It’s also often just an ego thing, as mentioned before.

There’s no place for ego in this game.

Sure, having confidence in your playing abilities is important, but it’s not the same thing as having an ego problem.

Over the long run, your results will tell the true story, no matter the opinion you might have on your own game.

The fact is, most poker players think they are better than most, and unluckier than most.

You never hear a player saying something like: “I really suck in this game, but variance has been very kind to me lately.”

It’s always the other way around somehow.

This is why the best players understand the impact of variance, so they don’t even pay attention to their short term results.

They also work hard on improving their mental game, which is another huge tripping point for many aspiring poker players.

Mental game has to do with how you deal with the inevitable swings in this game, and how you react when the cards simply aren’t falling your way.

The mental game is a topic in and of itself, and it’s beyond the scope of this article. 

But this is covered in extensive detail in The Micro Stakes Playbook, which I specifically wrote for pros.

Good Poker Win Rates on PokerStars - Summary

To sum up, a good poker winrate these days is anything above 0 BB/100. That’s because most players actually lose money in poker over the long run.

So if you have a positive winrate over a significant sample size, you’re already way ahead of the majority of the player pool.

Fortunately, you don’t need to learn a ton of advanced poker strategy to achieve a positive winrate. 

By following a simple tight and aggressive (TAG) strategy and practicing proper game selection, you can achieve a healthy winrate in most low stakes games.

You should expect your winrate to drop as you start climbing up the stakes, because you are going to encounter more difficult opposition with less recreational players around.

So your winrate will depend on a number of different factors, namely your skill level, your game selection, as well as your mental game.

But at the end of the day, you shouldn’t really worry about your winrate, because how much you win or lose is not entirely within your control over the short run.

So instead of focusing on your winrate, focus on improving your game every day and try to become the best poker player you can be.

If you do this consistently, the winrate will take care of itself.


This article was written by Fran Ferlan
Poker player, writer and coach
Specializing in live and online cash games

For coaching enquiries, contact Fran at
Or apply directly for poker coaching with Fran, right here

Lastly, if you want to know the complete strategy I use to make $2000+ per month in small stakes games on PokerStars grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.

Good Poker Win-Rates on PokerStars