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​Winning Poker Players vs Luck, Variance and Downswings

​200,000 hands of poker, what could go wrong?

​The stats below are based on playing 200K hands of No Limit ‘Hold’em cash ring games. The player is buying in for $100 at .50c / $1 blind games.

​Win rate is show in bb (big blinds) /100. For example a win rate of 1bb/100 means the player is winning $1 per every 100 hands played.

​Marginal Winning Player 1.5bb/100

  • On average you are expected to win $3,000
  • Chance of a loss 21%.
  • You’ll have a 30,000+ hand breakeven stretch 76% of the time.
  • You have a 71% chance of a having a $2,000 losing stretch.

Winning Player 2.5bb/100

  • On average you are expected to win $5,000
  • Chance of a loss is 9.4%.
  • You’ll have a 30,000+ hand breakeven stretch 58% of the time.
  • You’ll have a $2,000 losing stretch 47% of the time.

​Good Winning Player 5bb/100

  • On average you are expected to win $10,000
  • Chance of a loss is 0.4%.
  • You’ll have a 30,000+ hand breakeven stretch 30% of the time.
  • You’ll have a $2,000 losing stretch 20% of the time.

​Top Winning Player 8bb/100

  • On average you are expected to win $16,000
  • Chance of a loss is 0%.
  • You’ll have a 30,000+ hand breakeven stretch 9.3% of the time.
  • You’ll have a $2,000 losing stretch 5% of the time.

Brick & Mortar vs Online

​It would take a brick and mortar player 6667 hours or 556 full 12 hour days to play 200K hands (based on an average of 30 hands an hour).

An online multi-tabling player takes only 500 hours or about 42 full 12 hour days (based on 400 hands per hour average).

A Brick and mortar player could go months or even years without winning even though they’re actually a winning player.

Unless you are one of the best players at your stake you can expect to have some long breakeven and losing stretches. Even 2.5bb/100 winning players will experience $2,000 down swings almost half the time within a 200K stretch of poker.

Marginal winners (1.5bb/100) will lose money 20% of the time and winning players (2.5bb/100) 10% of the time after playing 200K hands.

This shows just how brutal the luck (variance) in poker can be.

The best way to avoid these long breakeven stretches and lower your chances of a big downswing is to improve your win rate. You can do this in a few different ways.

​Increase your skill

There are tons of poker forums that openly discuss strategy. Sign up and start asking questions. Read some of the older posts, you’ll find most of the fundamental strategies have been covered in depth.

Contact other players that are better than you or that are eager to learn. Start a mastermind group on skype or Facebook to talk about poker strategy and specific situations.

Join a poker training site - there are several out there although they can be expensive.

Read poker books - Although the advanced strategies in most books are out dated before they are printed they are great for learning the fundamentals, game theory and the mathematics in poker.

Better Game Selection​

​If you’re the 2nd best poker player in the world you still lose when playing the best player in the world. Your win rate is only relative to who you are playing.

“If you can't spot the sucker in your first half hour at the table, then you ARE the sucker”

If you can’t or won’t increase your skill you can always find and play with less skilful players.

Only play in games where you have a significant skill advantage over other players.Quit games when the line-up becomes too tough.

Sources:

http://pokerdope.com/poker-variance-calculator/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0128442/quotes

http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/27/live-casino-poker/average-hands-per-hour-live-nlh-1141593/

Note: 

*These stats are based on a standard deviation of 85bb/100.

*A poker player’s win rate will change constantly as the games are always changing and may get harder or softer. A player’s skill can also improve or get worse over time so these stats will never be perfect.