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The Last Bet

Poker Strategy: Getting to Know Your Win Rate

In online poker forums and in discussions at casinos and tournaments alike, the term "win rate" comes up quite often. While it may seem pretty self-evident what it means, it's worth going into some detail about how win rate works and how it can help you make better decisions about your own poker game.

Win rates are generally expressed in four different ways:

• bb/hr: the number of big blinds you win in each hour of play
• bb/100: the number of big blinds you win for every 100 hands you
• $/hr: the amount of money you win in an hour of play
• $/100: the amount of money you win for every 100 hands that you play

All of these work fairly similarly, but since bb/100 is the expression you'll see most often in online poker forums, then that’s the one we're going to go with for the examples we discuss here

Joanna wins 10bb/100 when she's playing $1/2 no limit Texas hold 'em. This means that when plays a hundred hands, she walks away with $10 added to her bankroll. Frankly, that's not a good payout for someone who's capable of winning one out of every ten hands that she plays in. In her case, she should definitely look at stepping up her game, probably to $5/10 games over the next month. She’ll see a temporary dip in her win rate as she moves up, but her skills are obvious and she'd benefit greatly by playing for more money.

More players lose money while playing online poker than win. That's just a fact of how the game works. In the example above, Joanna’s win rate is spectacular and she should raise her game to match it. That said, if you’re playing at a high-enough level, a win rate as low as 3bb/100 can mean that you’re profitable, especially if you’re playing multi-table online poker.

The win rate is really about the long-term poker game. Too many players have a hot streak and start believing that their win rate means they should move up. Instead of looking at the last 100 hands you played, look at the last 1,000 or even 10,000 hands. Variance is a huge part of poker and a temporary boost in your win rate can easily be offset by a downward trend. Accuracy is key, and that’s only found when you have a lot of data.

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