Why Over 90% of Poker Players Lose in the Long Run

Many people are startled to see estimates that as little as 5-7% of players profit in the long-run when playing online poker. Many theorize that this number has only gone down as the years have gone on. I have come up with five reasons for this although there are no doubt other contributing factors. Would love to hear back from others who have given this some thought.

1) THE RAKE – This is something that many players seem to forget about when grinding out a high volume of games. forking over an extra 5-10% of the buy in to the house seems insignificant. Let’s take the following example however. 10 players enter a SNG at a $10 buy in. Each pays $1 to the house which is in line with what most sites charge. Total prize fund is $100 a typical payout would be $50 for 1st, $30 for 2nd and $20 for 3rd. It stands to reason that if you had the same 10 players repeat this game many times in the long run five would be winners and five would be losers. However if on average you are a 5% winner that means that for your $10+1 investment you are only bringing in $10.50 back! In order to break even at this game you need to be a full 10% better than the “average” player. It stands to reason that on average you will likely have only 1 or 2 of the 10 players that are winning. It is entirely possible though if you had 10 players of a similar skillset that no one is profiting พุชชี่888!

2) “PETER PRINCIPLE” – In Business school we learned at length of a phenomenon in corporate America known as the “Peter Principle.” Simply put the corporations tend to repeat the mistake of continuing to promote someone until they are no longer providing full value for their paycheck. They may have excelled at lower level roles but are unable to handle increased exposure/responsibility at the same level. In hindsight they would of been much better off being promoted one less time. The same translates perfectly to poker in my opinion. Early on in my poker career I realized that grinding out many tables at a time of lower buy ins suited me well. However most players (I’m no exception) make the mistake at least once of moving up to buy-ins that are above their skill level. They will go on a hot run at their lower buy in and mistake that as turning a huge corner qualifying them for higher games. Many will even start to lose at the higher buy in and justify their existence thereby claiming to “run bad” which compounds losses. Every player has an ideal buy in to maximize profits. Playing too low a game will leave money on the table but the much more common mistake is to move up too fast and blow weeks-months even years of profits. For example if your ROI at the following buy in’s for SNGS are as follows: $1: 12%, $5: %9, $10:3%, $20: 0.5% your average profit for the buy ins will be as follows: $1-$0.12, $5-$0.45, $10-$0.30, $20-$0.10. It is tough for such a player to accept that until his/her skills improve the optimal buy in is $5 and not $10.

3) DIFFICULTY FUNDING ONLINE ACCOUNTS – If you think about it when there is difficulty in getting money on to the sites, who is going to be most likely to give in to the resistance and find other means of entertainment? Here is a hint: it certainly will not be those who play poker for a living. The players most likely to leave the scene are those who are generally weak and lacking experience. These players were especially beneficial to the community as they were often populating games at higher buy ins when in reality were unlikely to profit even in the smallest games. If players are willing to go through extra efforts to fund their online bankroll they are likely to put more work into their game and be tougher players. Any competitive activity is made tougher for everyone when you remove the weakest players. From 2003 to 2006 the amount of online players more than doubled every year. With the Legislation passed in 2006 and Neteller getting shut down the growth fell dramatically with most growth coming from overseas.

4) TILT! – If anyone who plays poker and claims they do not suffer from the effects of tilt from time to time they are lying to you! It effects everyone. Realizing the symptoms and being able to either walk away from the table or calm your emotions are key to maintaining a high ROI. There is not many games of skill where so often you will lose hands to weaker players. When you lose as a 4.5-1 favorite 3 times out of 5 its hard not to get at least a little frustrated. Those who play long enough will often see people ranting in the chat box in all capital letters claiming the site is rigged. Another popular comment is when a player jams his chips in with a weak hand will defend it by claiming even when he gets his chips in good a suckout is certain. Maintaining the same level play even in bad runs is perhaps almost as difficult as it is to obtain the skills needed to be a profitable player. There is also an effect that can hamper players on good runs. They can start to feel that they have suddenly obtained a much greater skillset during a good run and start to play with a cockiness that is not good for their long-term results.

5) APATHY – I always played online poker not because it was great entertainment but because I enjoyed the extra cash. Don’t get me wrong there are worse ways to make extra cash than being able to sit on my recliner watching TV while grinding out 6-8 tables for a few hours but I’m not sure I can say entertainment value is why i played. However for the majority of players online poker was something of a diversion. Often I would see people doing crazy things to defend their Big Blind then typing in the chat box “go pick on someone else’s big blind.” When I see something like this I translate this into “it makes me feel good to defend my BB even at the expense of long-term ROI.” People love to create the huge all in hands they see on TV and will ram in JJ at an early blind level hopping for the best but in reality knowing better. It does not take a whole lot of work to become at least a small winner, but often the things that go into winning are not “fun” for players and they ignore what they have learned.

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