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$1/$3 win rate analysis

Since it’s the end of the year I decided to look back on my results from not only this year but the last 3 years to get a more relevant sample size.

90% of my hours are played in a $1-$3, $300 cap game where the rake is 10% up to $6 with $1 for BBJ/high hand payouts. I would estimate the average stack in these games to be about $200. Since January 2016, I have played 900 hours of $1-$3 and my win rate is exactly 4 BB($12) per hour.

The reason I am posting this is that I am not sure how to feel about these results. I hear people like Bart & Rob make reference to 10BB win rates & think that my results are not very good. However, I know they play in much deeper games than I do and are able to play full time. When I consider the high rake and shorter stacks in my game, along with only playing about once a week I think my results might be decent.

Moving up to $2-$5 isn’t an appealing option as I play in a small market where the difference between these levels is significant. That game is full of regulars, including a few professionals.

I am asking for feedback from people like @Bart, @RobFarha and @KiLee as well as anyone else in a similar situation to mine (full time job with a family, playing about once a week at low limit) for their thoughts on these results. Thank you.


  • KiLeeKiLee Posts: 266Pro
    edited December 2018
    900 hours isn’t a big enough of a sample to come to a solid conclusion. There are many variables affecting your winrate including, but not limited to- game textures(you don’t always play in same games) stacks, straddles, rake,variance, and your game that might’ve changed from the beginning of the year, etc. the more I play poker, the more I realize that hourly rate is inaccurate and inconclusive measuring stick. Having said that, the rake sounds expensive.
    Thanked by 1irwinbet
  • MrOMrO Posts: 159Subscriber
    I'm in the same boat as you. I think 4BB is pretty low, tho. Are you pushing your edges and bluffing enough? For this year small sample size playing 2-100 spread where there is a cap on the betting. I am about $30/hr for 270 hours. I'm part time too with a full time job. Next year my goal is to play more hours. I also agree if you're part time I think the 2nd biggest game in the room if you can afford it is best, less pros.
  • Bart HansonBart Hanson Posts: 6,113Administrator, LeadPro
    edited December 2018
    I echo what Ki says above. And I've always said that I do not even know if a game structure like this is even beatable at all, due to rake considerations. Your game looks pretty high but at least it is a rake.

    Let's say that the average pot size is $50. SO thats $5 + $1 for the jackpot that is dropped very hour. And let's conservatively say that you get in 25 hands an hour to make the math easy. That means that $150 per hour is being raked out of the game (50BB). Conversely, if you look at my LA 5-10 game, the drop is about the same ($5+1) which equates to 15BBs per hour. So you rake % in terms of BBs is 3x mine at 5-10. I have an extra 35bbs to win per hour with lower rake. And let's say I am one of the best players at the table. My share of that 35bbs is probably around 5bb. Its probably not quite as simple as I am making it but if your rake % was the same as mine in your game it looks like you would be winning 9-10bbs per hour.

    You can see why 4bbs isnt so bad and might even be one of the highest winrates anyone in that game has.
    Thanked by 1irwinbet
  • CycleVCycleV Posts: 1,196Subscriber
    My situation is pretty similar. I don't know if I have much good advice for you, but I'll set it up:

    My poker market is small, and almost all 1/3 $400 cap. There are about 30 tables spread across 4 casinos within an hour, and about 24 tables are 1/3. The only bigger NLHE is 2/5 $1200 cap, only 2-3 tables total, and there are 3 PLO tables that run consistently. Rake is much higher than yours, and waitlists are always so long that even 1/3 is populated almost exclusively by regs. Like with you, the 2/5 is usually half pros. The game is rarely good, occasionally not awful, but even then, I might be a crusher for a NLHE rec but I know I'm a usually a dog vs half the table. (PLO is a different beast.)

    I had 800 hours of mostly 1/3 under my belt over 2 years. +4.5BB/ the first year, +6 the second. There are pros even down at 1/3, mostly younger guys who are at the moment fine with ease/safety of the stakes and accept the limited income ceiling that you can get there. They have a higher hourly than I did, but not by so much that I felt there was much room to grow anymore. I don't believe any of them are making 10BB/hr playing exclusively 1/3. But frankly, I wasn't happy with the ceiling. I dabbled in the 2/5 on occasion, but only when the lineup was manageable. But I felt like I'd hit a wall with poker as an intellectual challenge, and tbh, I wanted to win more money. I went back and forth in my mind for probaly a full year, before deciding in mid-2018 to move up almost exclusively to PLO and occasionally 2/5 NLHE. NOTE: a pro trying to move up stakes shouldn't do it this way, but I don't need the extra income. (Though I do really want it.)

    I made the move for personal, psychological, and intellectual reasons, but my side income from poker has almost completely dried up. After an extra 5 figures over each of the first 2 years, money-wise this last year sucked eggs. Frankly, under a certain light it's embarrassing to think about how much time I spent with poker for how little payoff it provided. (Though at this point it is always good for recs to remind ourselves that most people's hobbies COST money, so really I shouldn't whine about only making a few grand from mine. But seriously, sub-minimum wage for 2018.)

    I would say that my choice to move up was aspiraional, in that I hope there will be a financial payoff as I continue to improve my skills. I aspire to something more that what 1/3 was giving me. But where your situation and mine differ is that I'm single, no kids, and I have more time to dedicate to working on the necessary skills to move up. If I wasn't putting in so much study, I'd be a clown thinking I could hang with the pros and rich kids with unlimited bankrolls. (As it is, I've barely treaded water for 6 months.)

    IMO when Bart or any other LA/LV pro talks about 2/5 being almost the same as 1/3, I think that is a generalization that doesn't hold up very well in smaller poker markets. My 2/5 game is WAY tougher than the 1/3 I can now sleepwalk through. With that in mind, I think if you're only playing once a week, it will be hard to ever be anything other than a dog if 2/5 is the biggest (or close to the biggest) game in your room. I also think that probably at least 2/3 of the regs in your room are break even at best, so while 4BB/hr is burger flipping wages, it probably does put you near the top 10-25% of your pyramid.

    Like I said, I don't necessarily have any advice to give, but I'm letting you know you're not alone.

    Or you could move to wherever Jaman lives. He seems to have an unlimited supply of V's that I can only dream about.
    Thanked by 1irwinbet
  • sivaddivadsivaddivad Posts: 341Subscriber
    edited December 2018
    We have a 2/2/3 $300 cap game in the casino I play at with $5 drop. Most grinders I talk with believe the upper bound to be around 6-10BB (depends on who you talk to).

    For what it's worth, I put in around 1200 hours at that game and earned 8bb an hour, but ran way above expectation for the first 800 hours... I think my true win rate was closer to 6bb an hour. I was in business school and playing near full-time for most of it, but I had never played poker seriously before, so my skill level wasn't that strong.

    I now have your situation (except I play the $5 blind game almost exclusively), but I don't think much would change. Only difference is I'm not improving as much as I was then, but I counter that a bit by playing during the juiciest times (Friday and Saturday night).

    Based on slight difference in game size, and the low sample, I don't think you are too far off.
    Thanked by 1irwinbet
  • WtwebsterWtwebster Posts: 44Subscriber
    I think that it’s important to factor in whether or not you’re improving. What was your win rate for the last six months of the latest year compared to the first six months of the first year? If you’re not improving that’s the aspect of your game that needs focus. I’m in a similar situation playing low stakes but, and this is huge, in Portland OR where I play rakes are illegal. Yup. No rakes. Makes beating a game at 1-2 or 1-3 much more realistic. So move to OR.
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