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Q&A #103: Is My Winrate High Enough?

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I get this question in various forms all the time: “Is my winrate high enough?” or “What is the best winrate possible for my $X buyin no-limit game?” I’ve written on the topic before, but I have something more to say about it today.

Poker is obviously a social game. We play against one to nine other players at a time, and understanding their psychology and approach to the game is a critical skill.

But, ironically, I think playing poker is one of the most personal and solitary exercises around. Your successes go almost completely unrecognized. And when they do get recognized by some people, others will always pop in to explain how your accomplishment really isn’t worth celebrating at all.

Your failures also go almost completely unrecognized. If you lose $5,000 today, no one cares but you.

If your goal is to compete, be the best, and be recognized for it, you’ve picked one of the worst possible games. You might as well fire up the Solitaire game on your computer.

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21 Responses to “Q&A #103: Is My Winrate High Enough?”

JJS
@ Mon Apr 07, 2008 12:29:07 PM
1

Another excellent article Ed.

I would like to add, what makes the difference between being “awesome” and having a sour approach? I say it comes down to good pride and bad pride, or good ego and bad ego.

The good ego is when you compare yourself only to yourself. You love poker, and you want understand it better and play it better just for that reason. You will know when you are improving, and your satisfaction comes from within.

The bad ego comes from wanting to be praised. You want others to bow down and recognize how great you are. This always leads to trouble, in poker and in everything else.

The trouble is, it’s really, really difficult to recognize when you are afflicted with the bad ego. Everyone else can see it but you can’t. I’m not trying to be holier-than-thou, for I’m probably just as guilty of it as the next person. But if you know that this can happen, and keep a watch out for it, you can catch yourself doing this and gradually decrease it over time.

Manny Fresh
@ Mon Apr 07, 2008 12:33:31 PM
2

Beautiful

Bill Tucker
@ Mon Apr 07, 2008 01:20:30 PM
3

Fishing is more fun when you catch fish. And poker is more fun when you win.

JM
@ Mon Apr 07, 2008 01:34:22 PM
4

One of the best poker articles I’ve read in a very long time! Excellent!

Triplekill
@ Mon Apr 07, 2008 03:14:24 PM
5

Great post.
I had 3.75BB/100hands over last 20k in 25NL. I was kinda worry about my winning rate because I was told that 6-8+BB/100 hand is the “standard” winning rate.
This post really helped me clear my thoughts =)

VegasSocrates
@ Mon Apr 07, 2008 04:09:15 PM
6

‘As far as I can tell, a TAGfish is someone who tries to play well, but doesn’t play as well as I do.’

That is, I’m pretty sure, the funniest thing written here so far.

Steve Boyd
@ Mon Apr 07, 2008 05:22:23 PM
7

Once the online poker buzz dies down it’ll just be us nerds left who find poker just as satisfying in Excel and C++

:)

Deadmoney Walking
@ Mon Apr 07, 2008 05:36:29 PM
8

Great post Ed. It illuminates a great deal of the hey-look-at-me posts on 4.

JPat
@ Mon Apr 07, 2008 06:36:26 PM
9

Hey Ed,

now you have to start a series on “How not to burn out as a super-competitor”. Team up with Jared. :)

Anonymous
@ Mon Apr 07, 2008 10:44:38 PM
10

I thought “tagfish” meant someone who plays TAG preflop, but is inexperienced and makes large mistakes postflop?

Stu Pidassol
@ Tue Apr 08, 2008 01:25:46 AM
11

So when I get up and do the hip thrust and double are pump, yelling “CAN YOU FEEL IT?!” is NOT the thing to do? :-P Enjoyed how the article made me think about something other than pot odds, number of outs, how much should I bet, etc. (but I appreciate those articles, too!!!)

Krollspell
@ Tue Apr 08, 2008 03:56:15 AM
12

Thanks, Ed, for putting things in their proper perspective. Very good article.

Wouter
@ Tue Apr 08, 2008 11:13:55 AM
13

you made my day, Ed much love

14

[...] the day and his call got me thinking about it all again. One post that really stuck out was a great post by Ed Miller over at Noted Poker Authority related to the philosophical side of poker. Near the end [...]

Evan
@ Tue Apr 08, 2008 01:54:54 PM
15

I know this is a stupid question, but how does one even calculate your win rate? I know it is based on bb/100 hands, but how do you even keep track of how many hands you are playing live?

Ed Miller
@ Tue Apr 08, 2008 06:27:35 PM
16

Evan,

Live players typically keep track of the number of hours they play and think of their winrate in terms of dollars or big blinds/bets per hour.

BTR
@ Tue Apr 08, 2008 06:51:45 PM
17

“f your goal is to compete, be the best, and be recognized for it, you’ve picked one of the worst possible games.”

I like to think of it as the world isn’t quite ready to crown me the World’s Best Badugi Player ;)

Pawel
@ Wed Apr 09, 2008 02:34:22 PM
18

Sam pa lhun gyi drup par jyin gyi lob! (a prayer for Peace&Happiness) and a

Pawel
@ Wed Apr 09, 2008 02:35:38 PM
19

tiny video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYKPyjH2sVQ

(ahh! I don’t know how to type the links)

20

[...] the day and his call got me thinking about it all again. One post that really stuck out was a great post by Ed Miller over at Noted Poker Authority related to the philosophical side of poker. Near the end [...]

threads13
@ Fri Apr 25, 2008 01:20:56 PM
21

Great article, Ed. I think this touches on some other deeper concepts especially this part…

“Winrates measure only where you’ve been, and poker is always about where you will go from now on. “

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