Poker Winrates – A Myth

Poker Winrates are one of the biggest fallacies in the poker world. Sometimes topics deserve a rant, and this is one of them. Sure, we all like the idea of becoming so good that we have some kind of a reliable “winrate”. That is total nonsense though….

Why Poker Winrates are a Falacy: 

1) We are all human. Yep, I would think that would be pretty obvious to people, but its implications may not be. You may play great on one day and horrible the next. As I write this article Serena Williams just lost despite odds being 300-1 in her favor. If you have a bad day in poker and play horribly is it fair to say you had a “winrate” that day? No, that is absurd.

2) There are multiple independent variables that poker players can not control. Assume that you are no longer human and are a robot so that variable (your level of play) is fixed. The robot still doesn’t have a “winrate” or “lossrate”. Why? Because there are still a couple of critical independent variables at play – think rake and opponent quality/behavior. Rake we can account for, but opponent behavior is extremely difficult to figure out. Ex. fewer maniacs that dump hundreds of big blinds to other players can have a huge effect on player winrates. However, you might not notice a subtle change in the frequency of their arrival if you play thousands of hands.

3) Generally the assumption with winrates is that in the “long term” everything balances out, and some kind of fairly predictable winrate emerges. This is hogwash – it assumes there are no structural changes occurring over the long term that may be altering their “winrate”. As we all know from reading my article Why Online Poker Is Dying there have been some major structural changes in the industry over the past 5-10 years. Almost all of those changes have been significant negatives for players. Very few / none of the players I know have the same winrate or lossrate they had in 2013, 2012, 2009, 2005, etc, etc.

Why Believing In Poker Winrates Is Dangerous For Your Bottom Line

1) When you start to lose you may not stop…. Many players who were once winners have lost tons of money by convincing themselves they are still winners when in reality things changed to make them losers.

2) If playing yields a certain “winrate” for you then it may feel like the way you play doesn’t matter. This isn’t the case and as a player you need to always bring your A or B game at least.

3) You might play too many tables. As we all know from my previous post poker table selecting is critical to your success. Sometimes if you think its all just a pre determined “winrate” its easy to slip into the habit of not table selecting aggressively.

4) Another bad habit that players fall into is becoming to passive while at the tables. If you are in the midst of a long session or playing multiple tables make sure you keep 3 betting light and 4betting light where appropriate.

Dealing With Uncertainty In Poker 

Human nature drives us to want security and guarentees. However, in poker no such thing exists. There is no reliable winrate, there is no insurance, and there are no guarantees. After all, there is a reason they call it gambling ;). Can you win gambling? Sure, but you can also lose…. The only way to ensure success is to stay one step ahead of your competition. The moment you fall one step behind you are losing. “Winrates”, lol.

-ThePokerCapitalist (No nonsense, no ads, straight talk on poker)

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