The Tsunami

Strategize. Optimize. Pulverize.


How to Treat Your Poker as a Business: Expected Cash Game Win Rates

Happy holidays everybody! It’s almost Xmas, meaning that I’m in CT visiting my family. It’s damn cold here…I miss Vegas!

I’ve been trying to keep up with work, and I also managed to squeeze in some online poker two nights ago. Topping today’s to-do list are the following items:

1.) Work for CEREUS
2.) Analysis for a table game I’ve been working on for WAY too long. The game has a huge state space, which has made analysis really grueling. My client contacted me about a week ago, and I’d like to report to him with some good news…I just hate it when things linger.
3.) Work on the next version of Pocket Poker Pro (something else that’s been taking longer than I’d like)
4.) Next video for PokerPwnage.
5.) Website content

I also need to find time to find my girlfriend a Xmas present. I went to the Brass Mill Center in Waterbury, CT yesterday, but I couldn’t find anything (though I did get to play some World Poker Tour pinball). I have no idea if I’m going to return to Brass Mill Center or if I’m going to try some other place. BAH HUMBUG!

Now for some poker! This morning, I received an email from somebody asking a question about win rates. Since this tends to be a popular topic, I figured I’d respond here. The person who emailed me wants to know how feasible it is to make $40K-$50K per year at $0.50-$1 no-limit hold’em cash games playing an average of 2.5 hours per day.

If you’re massively multitabling 6-max $0.50-$1 no-limit hold’em cash games, a good winrate these days is 2-3 PTBB/100 (a PTBB/100 is equal to double the big blind…the term comes from Poker Tracker, which originally came out when limit hold’em was the game of choice; in limit hold’em, 1 big bet (BB) is equal to 2 big blinds (bb)). Many players grind it out at 0-1 PTBB/100 and make a good chunk of their money from rakeback and VIP loyalty programs. If you limit the number of tables you play at once and practice really good table selection, you can get your winrate up a little bit. But these days, a winrate above 5PTBB/100 is simply extraordinary (perhaps this is partially due to people like me).

At 6-max $.50-$1 no-limit hold’em, your MGR is about $0.07 per hand (MGR is average rake per hand divided by number of players at the table, and it’s the number that typically determines rakeback and loyalty program rewards). If you’re getting 27% rakeback (which is what you’d get playing at Full Tilt, slightly less than what you’d get playing at CEREUS, and about what you’d get from PokerStars’ VIP program given the volume of hands you’d be playing), then you’d be getting about $0.0189/hand from player rewards. Here’s what you’d need to pull off to make $45K per year assuming that you’re paying 2.5 hours/day and about 80 hands/hour/table:

$0.0389/hand = 1,156,812 hands/year = 3,169 hands/day = 1,268 hands/hour = 15.85 tabling

$0.0589/hand = 764,007 hands/year = 2,093 hands/day = 837 hands/hour = 10.5 tabling

$0.0789/hand = 570,342 hands/year = 1,563 hands/day = 625 hands/hour = 7.8 tabling

$0.0989/hand = 455,005 hands/year = 1,247 hands/day = 499 hands/hour = 6.2 tabling

$0.1189/hand = 378,469 hands/year = 1,037 hands/day = 415 hands/hour = 5.2 tabling

The bottom line: $40-$50K in a year at 6-max $0.50-$1 no-limit hold’em 2.5 hours per day is achievable for only a small handful of players. At 4 hours per day, a $40K-$50K year is within reach for a decent chunk of winning 6-max $0.50-$1 no-limit hold’em players (particularly those who are able to play 6+ tables at a time):

$0.0389/hand = 1,156,812 hands/year = 3,169 hands/day = 792.25 hands/hour = 9.9 tabling

$0.0589/hand = 764,007 hands/year = 2,093 hands/day = 523.25 hands/hour = 6.5 tabling

$0.0789/hand = 570,342 hands/year = 1,563 hands/day = 390.75 hands/hour = 4.9 tabling

$0.0989/hand = 455,005 hands/year = 1,247 hands/day = 311.75 hands/hour = 3.9 tabling

$0.1189/hand = 378,469 hands/year = 1,037 hands/day = 259.25 hands/hour = 3.2 tabling

Now that you’ve seen this calculation done for a specific game type, you should be able to reproduce it for any game. The big key is knowing your MGR (which you can get from Poker Tracker 3 or Hold’em Manager) and your effective rakeback. Alternatively, if you play the same game for an entire month, you can simply divide your effective rakeback by the number of hands you played to obtain how much rakeback you make per hand.

May Your EV Always Be Positive!

Tony Guerrera (The Tsunami)


Tags: , , , ,

Comments are closed.

KillerEV Updates

Leave your email address here if you wish to receive updates when new content is added to

Tony's Books

Tony's Blog

Show By:

  • Category

  • Date