Basic Poker Strategy: Determining Your Win Rate

Your poker “win rate” is the amount of money you win over a set period of time or number of hands. It is also one of the single most important numbers any poker player can learn in order to refine their game and determine if they’re ready to move up a level or, heaven forbid, move down a level.

Your poker win rate is usually expressed in one of our ways:
bb/100 = The number of big blinds you win per 100 hands
bb/hour = The number of big blinds you win per hour of play
$/100 = The dollar amount you win per 100 hands
$/hour = The amount of money you win per hour

If you have a win rate of 10 bb/100 in $1/$2 No Limit Hold ‘Em poker, you’re winning $20 (10 times $2) for every hundred hands you play. (That is, for the record, a ridiculous win rate for most players, but I made it simple for you to understand.

In general, poker players use bb/100 to boast about their winnings to each other, but don’t be surprised if your Aunt Tilda doesn’t understand that so you have to revert to $/hour just to clarify.

So, what is a good win rate? Mathematically, any win rate that doesn’t to 0 or below is good. The majority of online poker players lose money, so if you’re already in the positive, you’re doing better than almost everyone else and are in a pretty elite group of players. But there are winners and there are winners, so let’s take a look at how to break bb/100 down even more.

If your win rate is 1-4bb/100, congratulations. You’ve got a very solid Win Rate that leads to long-term poker profitability if you can sustain it, particularly in higher-stakes games.

Have a win rate of 5-9 bb/100? You want to consider moving up if you’re currently punching below your weight to really start to profit from poker. This is where most pros that are profitable and have been playing for a while find themselves plateauing and that’s just fine.

If your win rate in poker is 10+ bb/100, then you’re probably reading this on a solid gold iPad as you ride your helicopter out to your private yacht. You are the elite of the elite. It’s more likely that your math is wrong or that your sample size is not big enough.

As I said, knowing your guideline is useful when comparing your game to other players, but it’s important to remember as long as you’re making money playing poker, you’re doing far better than the vast majority of players. More importantly, your win rate is a useful diagnostic tool for your game, letting you know when you can move upwards and when you should perhaps take a break from the higher-stakes games you’re playing.